New Zealand

Why is New Zealand’s deputy PM rowing with Chumbawamba?

In their musical heyday, the English anarchist punk band Chumbawamba enjoyed a reputation for having an irreverent attitude towards those in political authority. Twelve years after they musically packed it in, a political figure abroad is making even more of a name for himself for his own irreverence towards Chumbawamba. The group has asked New Zealand’s deputy prime minister, Winston Peters, to stop using their best-known song, ‘Tubthumping’, as a curtain-raiser at his rallies and in his fulminations against the woke peril. The populist politician, though, is vowing that the show will go on. It doesn’t help that the 78-year-old Peters is not only his country’s longest-serving parliamentarian but one

The shoplifting scandal engulfing New Zealand’s Green MP

New Zealand has just lost one of its most stylish politicians after shoplifting allegations were made against her by two of the country’s high-end fashion stores. The Iranian-born Golriz Ghahraman, who had just begun her third term as a high-profile Green party MP, today announced she will be standing down from parliament with immediate effect. In her resignation statement, Ghahraman said her mental health has been ‘badly affected by the stresses relating to my work’, leading her to ‘act in ways that are completely out of character’. Although she did not address the allegations in any detail, she said she took ‘full responsibility for my actions which I deeply regret’.

Did Maori MPs mean to insult King Charles?

The co-leaders of New Zealand’s Māori party, Te Pāti Māori, have defended their actions at the swearing-in ceremony at parliament in Wellington on Tuesday. The party’s MPs all broke with protocol by standing and giving a whaikorero (formal address) when it was their turn to be sworn in. In their remarks, members of the party swore allegiance to the mokopuna (grandchildren) and said they would exercise their duties in accordance with Te Tiriti o Waitangi (New Zealand’s founding document, the treaty of Waitangi). They each then approached the Clerk of the House to give their affirmations of allegiance to King Charles, a prerequisite to formally becoming an MP.   Much of this tension

Kate Andrews

New Zealand’s smoking ban u-turn is bad news for Rishi Sunak

New Zealand’s new coalition government has announced that it will scrap Jacinda Ardern’s plan to usher in a generational smoking ban. The scheme would have steadily lifted the legal age for buying cigarettes from 2027, effectively stopping anyone born after 2008 from purchasing them.  The right-leaning parties now in power – the National party, the libertarian ACT party, and centrist New Zealand First – aren’t even going to give such a strange experiment a chance. No doubt they want to avoid the myriad problems the policy will conjure up in future, including burdens on businesses one day having to ID people in their 50s and 60s. But what the U-turn

New Zealand’s coalition goes to war with Jacinda Ardern’s legacy

New Zealand finally has a government again. It’s been 40 days since Labour was defeated in the country’s election, but the centre-right National party, which won the vote, has struggled to form a coalition. At last, it has thrashed out a deal with the libertarian ACT party, and centrist populist New Zealand First. The coalition is good news, at least, for foreigners seeking to live in New Zealand. Earlier this year, the National Party announced a plan to whack foreign buyers with a 15 per cent tax on houses worth over $2 million (£1.6 million). Now that idea has been ditched – a casualty of the coalition agreement. But New Zealand’s

The worst Noel? Why Kiwis are turning against wealthy foreigners

Wealthy foreigners are flocking to New Zealand, but not all Kiwis are happy about their arrival: not least locals who are fed up with their neighbour, Noel Edmonds, of Deal or No Deal and Mr Blobby fame.  Edmonds moved last year with his wife to a small village called Ngātīmoti, in the Tasman region of New Zealand’s South Island. The couple purchased a vineyard and cafe called Dunbar Estates, which they set about adapting into a pleasant English enclave called River Haven, complete with restaurant, general store, and a traditional English pub called the Bugger Inn. The Bugger Inn offers a ‘Dickens Cider’. Edmonds reckons this is ‘Kiwi humour,’ but some locals

Is New Zealand about to return to the world stage?

After six years of Labour party rule in New Zealand, the country’s foreign policy brings to mind the line about everything being at sea except the fleet. While the conservative National party of prime-minister-elect Christopher Luxon won on familiar-sounding domestic problems – galloping consumer prices, spiking interest rates and urban crime – the importance of foreign policy was not that far away.   For decades, New Zealand has made much of its independent foreign policy stance Luxon, a former airline boss, has hinted that he will be on board the diplomatic jet as soon as he has finished hammering out a coalition agreement. While the National party mustered an emphatic majority on

How the National party toppled Labour in New Zealand

Just three years on from Jacinda Ardern’s phenomenal outright victory, New Zealand’s Labour government has collapsed, slumping to half its vote from 2020. It is on the verge of losing some of its safest seats and languishing behind in most of the Māori electorates. The centre-right National party has won, with Labour prime minister Chris Hipkins calling Christopher Luxon to concede defeat. The National party and its libertarian coalition party, ACT, are in a strong position to form a government, with Luxon, a relative newcomer to politics, becoming the country’s next prime minister. With more than three-quarters of the vote counted, Labour’s vote was a shade higher than 26 per cent

There is still everything to play for in New Zealand’s general election

With two weeks to go before New Zealand’s general election, the contest is so close that many have stopped bothering to make predictions over who will win. And yet, despite such competition, one would be hard-pressed to call the parties’ campaigning lively. The election is being contested by a pair of unprepossessing men named Chris: wonkish, technocratic, affably bland on the stump, they have been crisscrossing the country in a spirit of hokey conviviality. One making cheese rolls, the other dressing up as a pirate; one wedged himself into a tot’s chair to stir goo at a children’s centre, the other drove a tractor ten yards. Neither candidate has been

New Zealand’s election spells trouble for Hipkins’ Labour party

New Zealand’s parliament adjourns this week, officially kicking off six weeks of political campaigning ahead of a general election on 14 October. But it seems that Chris Hipkins and his Labour party might find it difficult to maintain their grip on power.  Persistently high food prices at the supermarket, and a string of cabinet mishaps have seen a waning in support for Hipkins’ Labour government. For the first time, he has found himself on a level pegging with Christopher Luxon, the leader of the National party, in the race to become prime minister. Several weeks ago, a poll conducted by pollsters Taxpayers’ Union-Curia, revealed support for the Labour government stood at

New Zealand mourns after Auckland gun rampage

Two people are dead after a gunman armed with a pump-action shotgun stormed a building in Auckland’s central business district this morning. The gunman has also died. At least six people are injured, including one police officer who was transported to hospital in a critical condition. The police officer is now stable. The incident occurred hours before the opening of the Fifa Women’s World Cup, which is being co-hosted by New Zealand. The shooter has been identified as 24-year-old Matu Tangi Matua Reid. He was serving a sentence of five months home detention for domestic violence and had approval to travel to the building site as an employee of a subcontractor that

Is New Zealand changing its tune on China?

Is New Zealand’s prime minister changing his tune on China? Chris Hipkins said this morning that China’s greater assertiveness has led to the Pacific region becoming ‘more contested, less predictable, and less secure.’ New Zealand is reliant upon China, a country that makes up about a third of its export market. So, when Hipkins, visited Beijing last month, it was hardly a surprise that he avoided saying anything to offend his hosts. But back at home, in a speech to the China Business Summit today, Hipkins felt able to be a little more forthright in his rhetoric; yet this largely served to emphasise a disparity between the language of direct interaction,

Will New Zealand regret kowtowing to China?

New Zealand is reliant upon China, a country that makes up about a third of its export market. So, when the country’s prime minister, Chris Hipkins, visited Beijing this week, it is hardly a surprise that he avoided saying anything to offend his hosts. The Global Times, China’s state-run tabloid, said New Zealand’s ‘proactive’ diplomacy and actions with respect to China set ‘an example for other western countries’. In reality, that meant toeing the line on controversial issues like human rights, tensions in the South China Sea and China’s expansion into the Pacific. Hipkins would not divulge what he discussed during his 40-minute chat with president Xi, or what was put forward by

Kiwis are tiring of New Zealand’s blundering prime minister

It’s all going wrong for New Zealand’s prime minister Chris Hipkins. Hipkins’s laidback, convivial persona and managerial skills were seen as a welcome contrast after the loftier ambition but patchy results of his predecessor, Jacinda Ardern. But a series of political scandals and blunders means Kiwis are rapidly tiring of their leader. The latest trouble involves transport minister Michael Wood, who has been ‘stood down’ after he failed to declare shares in Auckland airport when he became an MP. Hipkins described Wood’s ownership of the stock while he was regulating the aviation industry as ‘not acceptable.’ ‘I’m not sure that Michael himself even has a really good explanation for that,’

Has New Zealand found the key to the UK’s housing crisis?

It may be difficult to imagine a housing crisis more dismal than the one Britain is experiencing right now, but New Zealand’s has come pretty close. One survey of the world’s most advanced economies showed that NZ was the ‘most vulnerable’ in the world for the less well-heeled to buy homes. Despite this, however, the Antipodeans could yet emerge in better long-term shape. At the very least, housing ought not to be a point of serious difference between New Zealand’s Labour party government and its National party-led opposition when the country has an election this October. Both major parties have until this late point in the parliamentary term put aside their usual

New Zealand’s opposition embroiled in AI-attack ad storm

New Zealand’s opposition National party has admitted using artificial intelligence (AI) to generate fake images for its political attack ads. The ads featured AI-generated images of a group of robbers storming a simulated jewellery store, two nurses of Pacific Island descent in a Wes Anderson cinematic aesthetic, and a crime victim gazing solemnly out of a window. Another ad was an AI approximation of a poster for The Fast and the Furious franchise, the cast’s likenesses devolved into generic faces, like something you might see on sweatshirts or lunchboxes in a short-lease tat shop. Questioned on whether the images had been created by AI, National Party leader Christopher Luxon was caught flat-footed.

Is New Zealand that bothered about becoming a republic?

The prime minister of New Zealand, Chris Hipkins, has said he wants his country to end constitutional ties with Britain and become a republic. Speaking just days before he attends the coronation of King Charles, Hipkins said: ‘Ideally, in time, New Zealand will become a fully independent country, will stand on our own two feet in the world, as we by and large do now.’ Hipkins, who replaced Jacinda Ardern as Labour leader in January, told a press conference in Wellington on Monday that while he imagined it would eventually happen, he was not planning any moves for the country to become a republic. ‘I’m on record as being a

Jacinda Ardern’s disappearing act

Former New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern bade farewell to parliament a few weeks ago. Ardern had resigned as PM in January, saying she no longer had ‘enough in the tank’ to lead the country. After half-a-decade in charge, and regularly feted on the world stage, Ardern has all but vanished as a ubiquitous figure of the age; but more striking is the extent to which her political legacy has, too. So what has she been up to since? Ardern has been appointed a trustee of a Prince of Wales’ environment award, named the Earthshot Prize. The prize was created by Prince William to fund projects that, in a not-unimpressive mission statement,

New Zealand has much to learn from the treatment of Posie Parker

A promotional clip for New Zealand uploaded to social media the other day looked like the usual decorous fare churned out by the country’s tourism agency: all deep-blue skies, golden sands and soaring mountains. The words were another matter. There was no come-hither voice enjoining visitors to experience ‘pure New Zealand’. Rather there was the miserable sound of Auckland this past weekend as the women who gathered to hear the biological sex campaigner Posie Parker were confronted by a much burlier mob determined to ‘turf the Terfs’, as one of their placards had it.  New Zealand’s record tallies with Parker’s view of it being ‘the worst place for women’ she had

The Posie Parker mob has embarassed New Zealand

New Zealand has, until recently, dwelt in splendid isolation during the culture wars. Kiwis have typically been reluctant to discuss social issues, the raising of which usually causes a kind of social static and brings down the mood. The antipathy, tribalism and performative outrage of identity politics hasn’t been much of a problem Down Under. But, in the last few years, things have changed. During the first Covid lockdown, when the country’s prime minister Jacinda Ardern was, in the eyes of the global media, an almost ethereal entity visited benevolently upon these shores, the country was united and sincerely committed to leading the way in the response. By the second