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Chris Trotter says equal opportunity misfortunes, experiences related much more closely to one’s location in the socio-economic power structure, may be more important than race in determining a life's economic success

Chris Trotter says equal opportunity misfortunes, experiences related much more closely to one’s location in the socio-economic power structure, may be more important than race in determining a life's economic success

By Chris Trotter*

Telling people things they don’t want to hear may be interpreted as either an act of bravery, or foolishness. In a world grown extraordinarily sensitive to charges of racism, a government report which states that “family structure and social class had a bigger impact than race on how people’s lives turned out” is bound to create controversy. But, this is exactly what the British Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities (CRED) has done, and controversy is exactly what it has got.

In one of those ironies with which history abounds, the Report, commissioned by Boris Johnson’s Conservative Government in the aftermath of the world-wide “Black Lives Matter” protests of 2020, and which highlights the critical role played by social class in generating inequality, has “disappointed” Sir Keir Starmer, leader of the British Labour Party. Starmer’s namesake, Keir Hardie (1856-1915) a pioneer of working-class representation in the British parliament, would have found Starmer’s response ideologically inexplicable.

According to a BBC news report (2/4/21), the CRED Report found evidence that “factors such as geography, family influence, socio-economic background, culture and religion had ‘more significant impact on life chances than the existence of racism’.”

It is difficult to think of a statement more calculated to upset those for whom white racism – personal and institutional – constitutes the key explanation for the negative experiences and life outcomes of people living in Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities. The only information likely to prove more “triggering” is the CRED Report’s finding that, in terms of raw numbers, there are more white families living in poverty in Britain than black families.

Since whites make up the overwhelming majority of UK citizens, this might seem like a trivial finding. The very important issue it raises, however, is the impact of life experiences completely unrelated to race upon the way people’s lives unfold. The closure of a factory, or a coal mine. Extended periods of unemployment. The impact of clinical depression on familial relationships. The consequences of drug and alcohol abuse. All of these are equal opportunity misfortunes: experiences related much more closely to one’s location in the socio-economic power structure than to the colour of one’s skin.

The same socio-economic dynamics are, of course, at work in New Zealand. Indeed, those with good memories will recall a very similar debate which erupted over the “Closing the Gaps” policy promoted, and then abandoned, by the Helen Clark-led coalition governments of 1999-2008. Exactly as has occurred in Britain, the research undertaken in what appeared to be a race issue came back with the unwelcome news that the “gaps” in New Zealand society were generated overwhelmingly by socio-economic factors.

The problem which then confronted Clark and her Finance Minister, Michael Cullen, was that any programme actually capable of closing the gap between working-class and middle-class New Zealanders would be prohibitively expensive. Limiting such a programme to lifting Maori alone out of poverty, however, would inevitably provoke an electorally fatal political backlash from the working-class whites left behind. Unsurprisingly, the controversial programme was quietly shelved.

Over the course of the nearly 20 years that separates “Closing the Gaps” from the promises of the present Labour Government, the power of class-based arguments to influence government policy has declined considerably. Excluding the overwhelmingly middle-class trade unions catering to the health and education sectors and the public service, the trade unions’ purchase on the New Zealand working-class has been reduced to almost nothing. (Today, less than 7 percent of private-sector workers belong to a union.) In the third decade of the twenty-first century, the most powerful ideological currents flowing through New Zealand society are those relating to race and gender. Among professional policy advisers and analysts “class” has become a dirty word.

Benefitting hugely from the rise and rise of “Identity Politics” in New Zealand society have been those Maori families sufficiently well-placed to have benefitted from the professional and managerial opportunities arising out of the Treaty of Waitangi settlement process. The well-credentialed children of this rapidly expanding Maori middle-class are now preparing to have another crack at closing the gaps between Maori and Pakeha.

Before that can happen, however, it is vital that the sort of observations contained in the British CRED Report be rendered practically unsayable in New Zealand. In this regard, the research project entitled Whakatika is certain to prove immensely helpful. Based on more than 2,000 face-to-face interviews, the project details its respondents’ experience of Pakeha racism. Be it the racist “micro-aggressions” perpetrated by individuals; or the “unconscious bias” manifested across virtually all of this country’s “colonial” institutions; Whakatika reports a racism so pervasive that it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that the maintenance of racial inequality is basic to the preservation of Pakeha identity.

Nearly 80 percent of respondents, for example, considered the portrayal of Maori by the non-Maori media to be negative all of the time or often. Nearly 90 percent reported either experiencing or witnessing discriminatory treatment of Maori in shops. The conclusions drawn by the study’s authors were unequivocal:

“The results of Whakatika show the need for broad anti-racism activities that are based on mana motuhake and that strengthen Māori connections to te taiao, our lands, rivers, mountains and harbours. Similarly, the results indicate that racism and discrimination are so widespread that they will never be conquered through isolated activities, such as unconscious bias training, alone. Addressing racism requires a constant, consistent, Māori-focused multipronged approach.”

Given that the authors’ definition of the problem: “Racism is an attack on our rangatiratanga. It maintains colonial power structures, systematically disadvantaging Maori.”, it is difficult to see the sort of arguments and observations advanced in the CRED Report being presented here without irresistible pressure being brought to bear upon the Labour Government to have them declared wrong, objectionable and unacceptable.

Leading the charge in this respect will be Labour’s Maori caucus. It is large enough now to prevent the party’s Pakeha leaders from replicating the Clark-Cullen duck-shove of twenty years ago. This time, a “Māori-focused multipronged approach”, based upon the rangatiratanga guaranteed by Te Tiriti, will be allowed to proceed – Pakeha working-class, or no Pakeha working-class.

The problem, of course, is that if a great many more factors are at work in the generation of social inequality than one’s ethnic origins, the “Māori-focused multipronged approach” is doomed to fail. If “geography, family influence, socio-economic background, culture and religion” all have a role to play in shaping the lives we lead, then any uplift programme which fails to take these factors into account cannot possibly succeed.

If you were to ask a working-class Pakeha if she had ever been looked straight through by a snooty shop assistant falling all over herself to serve the obviously wealthy woman standing behind her, the chances are high that she would say yes. If you were to ask a Pakeha working-class bloke if any middle-class person had ever asked for his opinion on anything other than sport and/or cars, what do you think he would say?

We have spent the last 20 years being made acutely sensitive to the injuries inflicted by racism and sexism. This is a very good thing – no question. Not so good, however, is the fact that, over the same 20 year period, the equally debilitating injuries of class have been ever more thoroughly hidden.

Those in a position to do something about it, don’t want to be told; and there are now far too few advisers who are either brave or foolish enough to tell them.

*Chris Trotter has been writing and commenting professionally about New Zealand politics for more than 30 years. He writes a weekly column for His work may also be found at

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The demonisation of poor "white" (I personally dislike the terms "black" and "white" when we're all just different shades of brown/pink...) working class people in the UK by the UK press and both sides of the political spectrum led directly to Brexit IMO.
It's also why many traditional working class voters have abandoned the Labour party there.
The racism against Maori here is certainly real and destructive, but we need to be smarter than the UK about how we deal with that or risk a massive backlash at some point in the future.

My experience is affluent Auckland North Shore where racism is of minor significance compared to wealth. Where it does exist it is a far bigger burden on Asians and conspicuous Muslims.
When writing opinions in comments it should be the force of the argument that matters not the perceived colour of the writer. But I hope there will be many comments contributed by Maori and also Chinese, Indians, Pacifica writers. It is just too easy for a European elderly male like myself to say an issue is overblown even if that is the shared experience of my multi-ethnic family. Note the writers of the British Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities are not all white, male and stale.


Haven't the Labour Party more abandoned the Labor Movement? They aren't targeting the working class and lower middle class voters any more. They've moved upmarket and are looking towards educated progressive voters instead of the average man in the street. You've seen this with the introduction of sales tax on fuel (disproportionately disadvantaging lower income workers) and protection of the property market from taxation (disproportionately advantaging the wealthy.)

This is typical of the “left” in the West. As the centre-left parties adopted the neoliberal economic model, they shifted towards the professional class. The working classes are the losers, but where are they going to go? Besides they are to blame, not the policies that favour the professional class and elites. The workers can educate themselves and join the ranks of the professionals.

If workers are counting on Labour to look after them, they are sorely mistaken


The thing I like about the gym is, you either put the effort in to do 20 pullups, or you don't. Doesn't matter who you are.


Too bad if you were born with no arms, deformed arms or lost one or two of them in an accident. You can put in all the effort you like but you ain't getting anywhere in the "pullup" race.

Choose something else

It's a bloody analogy for life, you don't get to choose another one.


PA… or born with no brain to make an intelligent comment?

So that would be the Yvil pathway then

Yes, strictly linear


What happens if you can't afford entry to the gym because all your money is being paid on rent? You don't even get the chance to do the pull ups.

Or you can't get to the gym because you've got to trek across the region at an unholy hour to beat the traffic because you have a job that can't be WFH by default?

Use the park

I thought the pull up competition was in the gym - or is that only were the wealthy flex their muscles? Everyone else does pull ups in the park.

The arena is irrelevant if it means so much to you. Let's choose a socioeconomically neutral venue.... And commend the effort

Do you have somewhere in mind (in NZ) that is socioeconomically neutral? Or is that simply a statement of idealism that doesn't match reality for many in current day NZ society....

Yup, that's the great thing about exercise - if you want, you can go to the gym, but local councils also provide exercise facilities like parks, where anyone who wants to can exercise for free. Is your analogy meant to be an argument for greater provision of social housing?

If you want to take it to that level, ok let's do that. Would you agree everyone should have equal opportunity to access a pullup bar, or housing, and from there if they exert the will and effort they can succeed?

al, I'm sorry but you just don't get it, you always revert to asking others to make your life better (local councils in your example above), the point we're making is that YOU can make your own life better, yes yourself, instead of always asking others

But I didn't ask the council for a park. That's the point.

And really, where do you get off asserting that I 'always' revert to asking others to make my life better?

Fun fact parks and many outdoor public areas are not accessible to disabled people and also fun fact if you have rotting skeletal muscles with MD you likely will only kill yourself faster by further destroying them. There is a huge amount of ableism in your comment where sure you have access to parks and council facilities but a great many people don't, you have access to housing but most severely physically disabled people don't even have access to 2% of NZ homes and many in NZ are homeless for years even with this govt. Next time try thinking about people other than yourself.

Sure, the whole exercise analogy is a pretty stupid one - that was essentially my point. I agree that the things needed to participate in society (like access to publif facilities, and access to safe, stable, fit-for-purpose housing) should be available to everyone.

IO, if you can't afford the gym, do some push ups, some squats, a run in the park rather than the treadmill, find some exercise stations at the park, there is of course plenty one can do, but it seems most would far prefer to complain about their situation rather than focus on making it better. Herein lies the blame for one's own failures in life

Really what you mean is that the rules are currently working in your favour, so rather than those who are getting the short stick trying to change the rules, you would prefer them just to shut up and accept things as they are. Complaining, often and loudly, is sometimes a part of making things better. Do you think that if no-one had complained about the housing crisis, that the Government would be taking any steps at all to fix it?


What Yvil was saying sounded like "make the most of your situation, even if it sucks".

You can still campaign to change what you perceive is unfair but don't just sit there moaning and looking for excuses.

OK, but 'campaigns' don't just start fully formed from nowhere. They start with people noticing things they think are unfair, pointing this out, explaining why, and convincing lots of other people that those things are unfair.

So in your view, what is the crucial difference between 'noticing an unfair thing and pointing out why it's unfair' and 'moaning and looking for excuses'? Example: noticing that its a lot more difficult for people to buy their own homes than it used to be, and pointing out that this is partly because of decades of government policies that have favoured asset owners over those who don't own assets. Is this 'moaning and looking for excuses' on your view?

Good points. I guess the difference is whether I'm doing it to make a difference vs feeling sorry for myself and wanting someone else to blame.

To continue the gym analogy, I'd like to go to the gym too but I can't really afford a gym membership so I have bought some cheap freeweights and an old rowing machine off TM; not ideal but at least I'm getting some exercise. I think everyone else but me seems to be driving a new BMW but I'm where I am financially through my own silly fault, so while I can (and do) rant about the growing inequality and social divide I have to take some responsibility too.

al, why don't you understand "Take care of your life, no matter were you're at, and DO whatever you can to make it better"?

Yes Computer, this is precisely my point

Fun fact parks and many outdoor public areas are not accessible to disabled people and also fun fact if you have rotting skeletal muscles with MD you likely will only kill yourself faster by further destroying them. There is a huge amount of ableism in your comment where sure you have access to parks and council facilities but a great many people don't, next time try thinking about people other than yourself, with bodies and conditions other than yourself. If you cannot even bathe unaided but are highly technically capable why is your life valued at nothing by this govt, who denies disabled access to housing and parks but worth over 100k to an American company. Why is it in NZ disabled are legally denied any housing they can enter, denied mortgages and homeless even while earning in the top tax brackets.

the chin up bar is now set so high it's out of reach for those without a ladder (or is that a silver spoon)

A rational article that only needs the title changed - replace 'may be' with 'are'. It is self evident. Which is not to deny my Maori relative visiting North Shore from his Australian home being disturbed by some pakeha women tightening their grip on their handbags when he walked by. Or to deny my son having had the 'N****' word used against him. Or that all three of the Maori families I know best are all multi-millionaires.
Conclusion: having electorates reserved on the basis of race is fundamentally wrong (even if it has on balance done good in the past). Extending it to local govt is stupid. Certainly they are less sense than having electorates reserved by religion or class.


What a crock, usual race bating. This happens to non Maori also. I grew up in a poorer area. Experienced attacks plus racial slurs for being white, when dating Maori girlfriends the Maori men weren't to happy their so called gals were dating a whiteboy. Was not alowed into a polytech course because of not being pacifica. Uncle died in the far north and there was the comment " why all the fuss for a white man" however the Marae and most people were awesome. It's just nasty people regardless the race.
Women clutching their handbags as a boy or man walks past. Get real, this can happen what ever race walks past. Usual victimhood mentality rather than calling out bad people and bad behavior.

The old Kaumatua have unfortunately got to old or died off and replaced with insane academics. The old Kaumatua's had more Wisdom and didn't blame the white man for everything under the sun. They called out where the crown had mistreated their people, called out bad behavior, even their was respect for the warriors / soliders on both sides. You can frankly go stick your constant racist Pakeha narrative.


I'm sad that my coment was judged as race baiting. Like your first paragraph it was just personal experience. I'm not sure about 'constant racist narrative' - how long does it take an immigrant to become pakeha? I thought the term applied to those non-Maori with NZ ancestory - I've been calling myself 'recent immigrant'. You may be right that too many of my comments are about what is loosely called race - the modern obsession with ethnicity trumping all other matters does seriously bother me because it is attempting to put a wedge between my wife and I and our children.

When it comes to well-being and fair opprtunities race matters but it matters less than several other factors. I agree with Mr Trotter that wealth & class are the most important.


The wealth of one's parents will increasingly determine peoples' material wellbeing, unless there is a big change in government policy. Increasingly over the past 5 years we have seen the 'bank of mum and dad' providing young people with the only hope of home ownership. For many young people with poorer parents, it's going to be very hard to buy a house.


And those young people of today, who grow up, will be even less able to do anything for their children - if they can afford to have any.
Can't we see where this lunatic economic, and so social, policy is leading us all?

Yep, perpetuation of intergenerational inequality.


We went for auctions when buying our home had our pre-approval from the bank which was our absolute max. We had no financial assistance from family. With this one auction, we bid to our absolute max and couldn’t any more. When we stopped bidding, the agents rushed to our side, pressuring and coaxing us to call our parents. He offered to pause the auction so I can quickly call my parents and my husband can call his to see how much they were willing to front up. The guy went on to say you just need another $150-200k like it was a minuscule sum. As though how dare I come to the auction when I can’t even get more. His attitude was appalling. Then he asked us if our grandparents were alive and if we call call them. Surely they want to help their grandkids he said. The coaxing didn’t stop until I was clearly upset and left the auction room. It took us more than a year after that to land a home. We missed out on so many and well over stretched to finally get in. I wonder how many people he would have coaxed and pressured to raise the prices up. Sad unethical society we live in.

Yes I was so very upset for days and I really wanted to complain, but my husband told me not to waste any more of my energy on him. I wish I did though, although doubt anything would have come out of it. Vultures don’t change colours.


What an awful story.
Good that you finally got a home.


If you want to feel better about things, go to the property investment FB pages and look at (mostly) grown men crying like babies because their interest deductability is being taken away. Reasonable chance it was their cohort who you were bidding with for many of the properties - they using equity in other properties and claiming interest as a cost of doing 'business'.


The property investors group are a powerful wealthy lobby group.
Thank goodness Labour in the end had the guts to stand up to them.
National would not dare.

Small 2 bed House next door to us sold just before the changes to an investor for close to a mil. It’s on a small subdivided section so no real development potential. A yield of around 2.5% before costs, surely that makes little sense but I guess the guy who bought it will use the yield to pay most the mortgage and hope for CG. Now that they have to pay tax on that 2.5% I doubt any investor would be bidding that amount as the numbers stack up even less. So if it were to sell now to an investor either it would only be for $700k or so or they would have to expect a big rent increase.

Wow that is going to be so tough on the investor when his tax and interest goes up. But really he should have taken more personal responsibility

what sort of business plan is that? if it wasn't for the low cost of leverage it would have been chucked in the bin where most "rental" business plans belong.

Yes, Auctions.

It is interesting that Auctions only started to become more common after the RMA inadvertently started to restrict property supply. The price set at auction is not by what the person who wins the auction pays for it, by the price the underbidder stopped at.

Auctions are perfectly made for where supply is less than demand as you almost always need two people per one property to make it work.


Labour need to stop dreaming about soft landings, the ponzi psychology is too deeply entrenched. A circuit-breaker in the form of a correction is what it will take. Of course ponzi grifters don't like it. Why would they? The alternative a future where the only way onto the money escalator is a leg-up from parents onto the ladder or future inheritance of property. The ones with landless parents are only left with an altogether different set of options

Fritz...Exactly. We need to find a way to ensure being born to property owning parents (or not) does not almost completely determine your financial destiny.

Nationalise land. On death it returns to the govt who then pay your beneficiaries for the property on it.

Inheritance tax?


The hands off policy to housing and banking of the last thirty years will mean the determinant going forward will be property ownership rather than race or social status.


Racisim in NZ is just not on the scale of say England with a class structure or South Africa where I have been assured if you actually live there your opinion will change real fast. Lots of grey areas however if you want to be honest about it, take India probably one of the worst worst in the world with their cast system and many other countries simply divide along Religious lines so its no better or worse really is it ? its just racism in different forms. On the other hand you have people playing the race card and its getting a bit tiring, you know 150 years later and they are blaming someone else.

Before apartheid, blacks lived within different tribes, each with their own language; the two largest tribes were the Zulu and Xhosa. The pre-apartheid history of these tribes was volatile.
During apartheid, these sentiments remained, but there was a common enemy in the white oppressors. However, when apartheid ended, that common enemy disappeared. The deeply ingrained rage and resentment were then turned toward each other.
Both the Zulu and Xhosa, as well as other tribes, fought for supremacy in the new democracy. The result was further separation, creating an environment of violence, rather than one of unity and rebuilding.
The streets ran heavy with the blood of black South Africans, but almost no white blood was shed. In their fight for supremacy, an uprising of the Zulu and Xhosa, under the guise of official party organizations, created a war. There were riots and fighting in the streets. Thousands died, and bodies blanketed the ground.

In the same vein Yugoslavia. Once Tito’s iron grip & totalitarianism, UDBA enforcing etc, was broken, the lid burst off the barrel & out broke centuries of pent up vendettas & genocidal barbarity.

FG. I’d refine your ‘pent up vendettas & genocidal barbarity’ a little more to the 1990’s Balkans conflict essentially being a religious war prosecuted with blessings of those prosecuting the religious cleansing by senior clergy.

Partisans vs Chetniks well before that MM. The former won and put the lid on the latter. Tito would have grabbed too Trieste, if not for timely placement NZ infantry.

ps. took time for a refresher. Wish hadn’t. Wiki thoughtful enough to illustrate typical Chetnik execution of a Partisan by way of heart removal.

FG. Yes, some horrific images from that period. The Nazi puppet Ustashe state led by the monster Ante Pavelic was so depraved that even debased SS officers disassociated themselves from the regime. Then it was Croats ( enjoying the patronage of the Catholic Church) murdering orthodox Serbs and Jews in the horrific Jasenovacs concentration camp. The vile serbian leader Milosevic was ( with orthodox priestly blessings) to exact a terrible revenge in our lifetime for Pavelic’s crimes of the 1940’s. Muslims also became cannon fodder in the territorial ambitions and ethnic cleansing that wracked the region after the soviet empire collapsed. It is (in relative microcosm) a salutary, horrifying and to us perplexing demonstration of unleashed religious fanaticism.

It was a political war under the guise of religion in a historically incredibly religious part of the world.

Carlos. Maybe not on the same scale but in NZ it is nevertheless still common. I’m a pakeha who grew up in deprived circumstances but over time moved to a very different economic universe. I’ve experienced significant economic discrimination from both ends of the scale. It’s a real thing. As is the race based unconscious bias currently endured by my obviously part caucasian grandchildren. NZrs are more tolerant and accepting of cultural differences than many other peoples but legitimate complaints of active discrimination are not ‘playing the race card’.

There are wealthy and poor in all ethnic groups, travel anywhere in the world and this is obvious.
Accumulation of wealth is an understanding of how to leverage money and hard work to enjoy a life of prosperity.
These are skills that should be ingrained into our education curriculum. Unfortunately here in NZ they are not so understanding of wealth becomes a family or learned skill.
Government policy which removes the obvious ways to build personal is not helpful like the recent announcement on housing.
So to your great photo (students from Harrow on the hill in their top hats standing with students from another school ) the wealthy want their children to grow and prosper and therefore educate them at schools and amongst peers who have this work ethic.
As to any reference to Maori wealth.
It is massive and the Maori incorporations are great businesses something we should be celebrating.
Maybe a story on some of their farm operations.
Waiarapa Moana near Whakamaru for example and how they use the resources to grow their shareholders. Tainui development around Hamilton.

So dafarmer - I agree on the hardwork front. But when you say 'accumulation of wealth is an understanding of how to leverage money'. I agree with you on that front when interest rates are falling - like what you have probably experienced the last 35 years.

But when interest rates start rising - leverage could well be your enemy if you're not productive enough to cover the rising interest costs. The reverse of that cycle might be about to start if you look at Treasury yields.

Absolutely I_O
These are conversations we have has a family and amongst friends and peers.
Strategies and actions in place.
These are concepts and thoughts we need to develop in our education system so everyone has the opportunity to understand wealth creation.

Wealth creation?

Time will tell but with hundred of thousand of kiwis invested in loss making residential properties I’d question that phrase!

Haha. Yea "wealth creation". Otherwise known as debt magic.



Imagine developing the curriculum and teaching Leverage 101. In the old days, we used to teach Savings 101 (i.e., all NZ kids had a Post Office Savings Bank account and through the schools they could make deposits).

It kind of comes back to fundamental ethics - leverage is a form of usury; savings is a form of prudence.

Maybe we'd be better to teach fundamental ethics.

Credit cards & other loan sharks blew all that asunder. Too many today, when spending, cannot differentiate whether money earned and money borrowed is being used.

Absolutely - leverage has been brilliant for people over the last 30+ years. But that cycle looks like its come to an end. It might be a massive paradigm shift if interest costs rise but we don't see significant increases in productivity (and therefore ability to service the increasing interest costs). Leverage won't be your friend - it will be your enemy. are right and it amazes me that so many investors cannot even comprehend you might be right. I can only imagine how somebody like AC would respond to your post.

Asset Price = Free Cash Flows / Discount rate.

If you can understand that then you'll realise that falling interest rates have been a blessing to asset holders. The opposite will also be true if the discount rate rises substantially faster/higher than the free cash flows the asset generates. If the economy doesn't grow at the same rate (i.e. productivity) as any potential inflation - there will be a lot of bad assets that are leveraged with debt. Prices could get decimated.

But as you know, most peoples price projections are based upon recency and confirmation bias (i.e. property doubles in price every 10 years...because that what has happened the last 40 years).

For property investors, their free cash flows are going to fall with the new rules around interest deductability (assuming Labour also puts rent caps in place).

The main reason for much of the disparity is the very fact that there has been this focus on race, sex, and now, geography, family influence, socio-economic background, culture, and religion, etc. While these things are real, they are outliers as being the main cause of why people are where they are.

And by focussing on them as a first-principles become a 'go to' crutch that takes our focus off things that benefit all people regardless of race, sex, religion etc.

The one thing that the Clark/Cullen Govt. could have done, and every Govt. since is set up a policy that allowed housing to developed at 3x median income. Just like other jurisdictions have done.

Imagine this, owning or renting a house at less than 1/2 of what it costs now. And the extra disposable income it would give you to save, invest in education etc.

Dale. The UK study concluded that societal structure and other primary factors such as geography directly created socio economic disparity rather than being the simple ‘outliers’ you dismiss them as.

The point I'm making is that the right policies lift all boats. no matter the size.

For example in Texas, where their housing development policy allows the housing of all races, sex, geography, etc. to get a house at 3x median income, this is what the life of a single, POC, female gets you.

In Auckland we have 5 or more young professionals having to share one house just to make the rent affordable, with house prices at 10x median income.

The UK is a basket case for housing with the smallest new house size in Europe at 73m2. With NZ being a commonwealth country, it is where we got our basic house policies laws from. The last place we should be looking for advice on housing is the UK. Historically, until the early 1990s, NZ was 3x median multiple. When Savage did his reforms it was at 3x median multiple. This Govt. thinks they are going to do it at 8x median NZ average, dreaming.

If we were serious about inequity, we would enact housing policies that allowed housing to be developed at 3x median multiple, and most of these inequity issues would be small and more easily addressed and would be true outliers.

It's an easy one to fix, whereas some of the other ones are impossible, or simply disappear if housing problems were solved.

Dale. I agree ‘fixing’ housing would go some way to addressing a chunk of social issues but given the CRED survey identified other factors such as family influence, culture, religion etc as also contributing strongly to ‘life chances’, along with the socio economic exclusion effect of housing woes, it is wishful thinking to believe that adequate housing would ‘lift all boats’ to the extent of significantly reducing the social dysfunction that is the product of a range of causal factors. The solo parenting prevalent in some groups, cultural attitudes to academic success and other inherent barriers to personal progress would remain. Not arguing with your core proposition that political mismanagement of demand and supply factors has directly caused our housing crisis nor that substantial resources and effort to have as many citizens as possible owning their own homes is urgently needed but doubt that adequate housing would be a fix all panacea.

Not arguing with what you are saying either, but not all things are equal in priority, and I'm saying that until you fix housing all those other issues you speak of with be multiplied by the failure to address housing.

Warm, dry, healthy, affordable housing (which NZ does not have) touches, savings, food, health, education, well-being, etc. Fixing housing first as a priority will lessen the burden of fixing everything else. And I mean fixing it without Govt. subsidy. When you have the Middle Class now needing Govt. support, you know the systems dysfunctional.

And not fixing housing first, and concentrating on what are generally outliers as the main issue, is for the most part a distraction and has become a form of Bread and Circus's to stop people from focussing on real solutions.

Im not sure anywhere in the US would be a good example of equal outcomes. While I agree it would be good for house prices to be much lower I’m not convinced we could ever see 3x multiples again here. Even if land were free, just installing the infrastructure to a new house costs almost all of your 3x multiple, let alone the cost of building the house.

If we are talking about housing, Texas land policy is a great example.

I've run comparable scenarios with real development figures and I could lower the price between 1/3 and 1/2 depending on who you let do what. I've developed both systems in different jurisdictions, it only Govt policy that has allowed us to get to where we are and is stopping us from being where we should.

The main cost after getting rid of land banking is having to join council wastewater systems which are the council using new developments as a proxy to replace old infrastructure that they failed to provide a long-term maintenance fund for. If you let the developer install modern STEP systems, the price you be lower, and quicker, and is more environmentally friendly. And all those people in older existing houses would get a hell of a rate rise surprise if the rates were targetted to those with the problem, which funnily enough some are starting to get regardless, as the charade is being exposed with crumbling infrastructure.

People are so used to being ripped off, they think it is some universal norm.

And it wouldn't be a complete failure if it was lowered to only say 5x median multiple.

Surely transport is the main cost. Probably not so much in Texas where it is flat and plenty of room for 30 lane motorways. And I assume they socialise the transport costs?

If you watch the video in my comment at12:38 above, it gives this person budget costs including transport costs.

And you are missing the point. What is the transport cost for anyone living and working in the CBD in Dallas or Auckland? It's very little and about the same in each case. The difference is in Dallas the CBD apartment costs 4x median income and in Auckland 10x median income.

And if being flat was a prerequisite for cheaper housing, they would have the world's cheapest housing in Australia, as you know they have some of the dearest.


Mr Chris, only thing important in New Zealand is to be a part of housing ponzi for your social, economical and mental well being. Full stop.

Rest everything is BS. Welcome to NZ.


"Social class may have a bigger impact than race on how your life turns out"

Agree today it is only housing class that.......

Vote for Jacinda Arden

“social class had a bigger impact than race”.. on outcomes. Music to the ears of class warfare warrior Trotter but the CRED report findings are inconvenient for the prevailing NZ narrative of of colonialist originated racism as primary cause of Maori social ills. He demonstrates trademark integrity by challenging this fundamental plank of his own progressive tribe.

The question should be who is hoarding land now. Its not Mr Mitchell anymore.. Give you a clue its people with more exotic surnames

Dago. But the wearisome meme of grey baby boomers is nice and safe, eh.

The use of dichotomies in the article: middle class v working class and Pākehā v Māori - to my mind, blurs our consideration of the fundamental social problem of increasing wealth disparity in New Zealand.

Dichotomies are exclusionary.

Pākehā refers to the descendants of the country's white colonisers who have, over many generations, benefitted from the massive dispossession of Māori land, more often than not, through confiscation. Hence many current NZ's do not fit within this dichotomy, they are tauiwi (those who do not whakapapa Māori), but they are not Pākehā. The dichotomy, Pākehā v Māori is not fundamentally about race, or about Māori v all others - but about dispossession of both Māori culture and land as being part of one's ancestry/geneology/whakapapa (either the victim or the benefactor of that dispossession).

Our society benefits from both Māori and Pākehā knowledge, awareness and acceptance of ancestral histories. My husband's colonial ancestors were one of the first to bring the industrialsed milling of kauri to NZ. He is Pākehā but has always viewed that history from a lens of pride, industriousness and nation-building - he was never taught about the dispossession and destruction that accompanied his family's arrival here.

Additionally, the article uses the dichotomy: middle class v working class. Many of NZ's working class are middle class - both these terms are irrelevant to my mind. It arises from the days of factory floor/production workers v management, I think. Today's application would more appropriately refer to lower, middle, upper wealth accumulation versus dispossession - and that too traces back to ownership of land/assets/property.

That said, the basic premise of the article: that current policy initiatives and the language (the way we frame the issue of inequality) are likely to exacerbate the problem, is sound.

Kate. Wealth accumulation as class hierarchy is as problematic as the definitions it seeks to replace but says much about our values as a society where a crassly acquisitive individual outranks those of learning or culture. I might also take issue with your depiction of Maori land disposition being ‘more often than not’ through confiscation. Vast tracts of land changed hands by way of processes that both sides at the time believed to be voluntary.

Vast tracts of land changed hands by way of processes that both sides at the time believed to be voluntary.

Not sure where you get that idea/impression. My understanding is that first there was conflict/confiscation (i.e., war);

Then there was the Native Land Court - a State/legal mechanism to dispossess;

Both being examples of different mechanisms of dispossession by confiscation.

The 1860’s land confiscations were around 1.2m hectares, about 4.4% of land. I’m not arguing this wasn’t odious and demanded rectification nor that areas of land hadn’t been previously acquired by settlers through nefarious means. Just the inference contained in your ‘more often than not’ comment. It may also be worth observing that anger on the part of tribes that had been dispossessed of land through previous inter tribal conflicts led to a high percentage of Maori supporting the crown in the NZ wars.

Interesting information. I'm a fairly recent immigrant with only a poor knowledge of NZ history but it often seems as if we look back on early Maori leadrs as some kind of idiots and I doubt that. They probably had different goals - getting ahead of a neighbouring tribe being more important than some concept such as national and ethnic unity. So maybe early Maori traded their wealth for warfare. Which English NZ did in WW1 and WW2. Now Maori are poorer than Pakeha and Pakeha are poorer than Americans.
I hope Middleman and Kate are both making submissions to the proposed NZ history curriculum (BTW the govt discussion document is almost unreadable).

Lapun. Only an idiot would regard pre European Maori leaders as idiots. Cultivation and food harvesting were often highly sophisticated enterprises. Military strategy and tactics well developed and deployed. The only way for a pre industrial society to expand its power was by conquest and control of resources including land. This is a universal truth often ignored by revisionists citing Maori tribal conflict as an example of dysfunctional social evolution.

The only way for a pre industrial society to expand its power was by conquest and control of resources including land.

Surely that is true for industrial and post-industrial society as well.

No. In a technological era most of the resources sought by expansionary states resides in human capital. Physically conquering Silicon Valley would be wasted effort. Stealing or acquiring IP in other ways is how to achieve supremacy. Different in agrarian societies when cattle, crops and slaves were stores of wealth.

getting ahead of a neighbouring tribe being more important than some concept such as national and ethnic unity.

That period of escalating inter-tribal conflict (pre- ToW) is called the 'Musket Wars';

Thanks, I must go and read the government's proposals regarding the NZ History curriculum. I didn't know it was being consulted on as we speak. Thanks again.

You have until the end of May. Any chance you might publish an article on Interest about it?

Wow - just read it. MY initial impressions are good, but as with much of the NZ Curriculum, there's one heck of a lot in it. We expect too much of children these days - and in doing this, many fall behind.

What they are attempting to cover alongside all other elements of the curriculum is possibly 'too big an ask'. So my first question would be - how does this 'schedule in' or integrate with other existing elements of the curriculum? I'm not sure that years 1-3 NZ history content is appropriate given the other essential foundational learning expected during these years. If a student falls behind in reading, writing and arithmetic in those years, they become so disadvantaged throughout their education. Social inclusiveness (largely through play) is another really important element in those formative years.

Hence perhaps I would recommend the start of the NZ history curriculum at year 4 is the way to go - and that would mean the NZ history curriculum would extend into secondary schooling. It certainly did so in terms of American history when I attended secondary school in the US. Presently English, Maths and Science are the mandatory subjects in the first three years of secondary school. Given we are in the age of calculators, I really question the mathematical concepts taught in secondary here - to my mind they are too advanced. Basic geometry and algebra (and perhaps statistical analysis) are the most advanced type of maths most of us might use in normal daily life. Beyond that is (to my mind) for specialist mathematicians, engineers, architects and the like. So perhaps there is room for substituting NZ history as a core secondary school subject.

The other thing about the proposed NZ history curriculum, is that the 'Do', i.e., the critical enquiry (research) and critical thinking (comparative analysis and opinion formulation) for years 7 onwards are, I suspect too sophisticated for those age ranges. But, I can understand the ambition educators might have in this regard.

I just wonder how much in-depth/analytically robust 'testing' of these intentions with the sample student population will be done. But, if done properly, that concern might be answered.

On first blush, I'd be bumping the whole thing forward to commence from year 4 (8 years old) forward.

Well, I suppose with this tangent of an article we are all going off on, you are not talking rent controls and I'm not talking 3x median income.

Just as well there is nothing better to focus on, like say, housing affordability.

My two children are in their early 30’s. Both own nice homes and are debt free because my wife and I want to help them in our lifetimes rather when we are both dead. This of course enables them to have children and in both situations only one partner has to work. Many of their friends don’t even have homes. They both studied at University and work hard. And they appreciate our help. They know they are lucky. Chris is correct. Boomers with money can help their millennial children before mum and dad are dead.

I think that is very admirable ex agent. Well done to you and your children.

I guess the question becomes, do we have a social contract to other groups of people who aren't as fortunate? History would suggest if the economic system isn't working well for enough of the population, then society breaks down. Looking at what is going on around the world, it looks like the current economic model isn't working for more and more people each year.

Do we/should we have a social contract... - that's the ideal way to frame the question.

I think we did post Bretton-Woods though to around 1990-2000. Since then it appears to be evaporating into self interested fear (FOMO) and as a result, greed (unfortunately).

History tells us that if the social contract breaks, so does society. And if society breaks, so does democracy. Dalio has been warning of this recently - that we can't take democracy for granted - referring to the 1930's. The rise of the autocratic leader.

Autocracy is certainly on the rise across the world IO.

The problem is can we fix it without a global war, especially one which will degenerate into a nuclear exchange?

ex agent.. you have kind of illustrated the whole problem. Financial success should not be predicated (mainly) on whether your parents are property owners and you are pretty much doomed if they are not. It is just not right and needs changing.


Karl I could not agree more. House prices need to come down. Labour I am sure will implement more levers if that does not happen. My children and others my wife and I have helped are lucky. We did not need the help children need today. Things need to change.

Actually I am not a property owner. I have a home and significant private and public equities built up over 35 years. No point in not sharing my endeavours before I kick the bucket. So many boomers I know share stuff all with their children before they die.



However, what now? I do not see the new mel generation fixing anything soon because they operate in bubbles and bubble mentality where if you do not fit their bubble-world-view, youre out! Youre free game for a wokefest pile-on because that's how they roll! The most highly educated generation we're told?? Have failed.

Some people actually choose downward mobility as well intentionally. Upper middle class, drop out of Uni, travel to India, are happy with few material possessions.
Others grow up in poverty, educate themselves, and achieve material prosperity.
Are we locked in to our family background? It’s more about values transmission really.

What is Trotter thinking?
The truth is the only problem in New Zealand is racism. Maori leaders tell us so. No others can be considered.

There's nothing new under the Sun, it's just that what we learn, we soon forget.

John Steinbeck's novel "The Grapes of Wrath"was the top-selling novel of 1939. It won a Pulitzer Prize in 1940 did much to earn the author the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1962. Steinbeck plainly stated his purpose in writing the novel: “I want to put a tag of shame on the greedy bastards who are responsible for this.

Personally I believe the middle class is a social strata position to be avoided.

Their preoccupation with erroneous values. The stultified thinking, the unspoken judgement. The ever present sanctimony. The lack of genuine personal and creative freedoms. The limited approved prescriptive options available to their young.

Some thrive in such a rigid setting, but many suffer under it. I'd venture to say the upper and working classes share more in common than either groups do with the middle classes.

So to the middle class I say, thanks, but no thanks!

The rich man in his castle,
The poor man at his gate,
Each swearing he is 'Middle-Class'
Despite their differing estate.

A different view: 'The Sewell Report Is Just the Latest Weapon in the Tory Culture War'

The Sewell Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities report

This is pretty clumsily done to be honest.

It should not be news to anyone that your life chances are overwhelmingly influenced by how poor (and stressed) your family were when you were growing up, and how poor and stressed your neighbourhood was. This is the moment in the discussion when people jump in and say "BUT, John was dirt poor and now he's a millionaire" - making the dumb ass mistake of thinking that one horse beating the odds means you should always bet on the outsider.

The ACTUAL POINT though is that disadvantages compound. The academics call this intersectionality ( Arguing that one disadvantage is more significant a barrier to achieving wellbeing is an interesting academic exercise - but when it is played out in articles like this it is divisive. In fact, it is exactly how the neoliberal elite keep the lid on their giant ponzi scheme - simple divide and conquer.

Great comment.

Great article Chris.
Well highlighted the Animals taking over the farm

Everything boils down to personal decisions and responsibility. No one is stopping others from moving up the chain in this country.

Don't like the nepotistic and racist hiring process? Start your own company.
Don't like landlords? Find your own way onto the property ladder.
Don't like doing meaningless jobs with low pay? Upgrade your skills, work hard and smart
Don't like that WINZ officer sniggering at you? Get a job, any job.

You'll find more often than not those who're stuck at the bottom pile remained stuck, playing the victim and blame everyone and everything for their circumstances.

The current benefits system ensures the bottom pile remain sunk, this ensures they are dependent on the government and provides a source of ready votes comes election day.

If a police woman can rake in £150,000 per month by changing jobs because it's the money she wants, I don't see how it's a class issue; rather, I see it as a personal decision problem people have.


Where do you start with next level stupidity like this? In fact, I'll stop there.

Yes, I wonder why don't all cops do it?

I hope when you get a break in, the cops are all far too busy getting ahead with their shady side gigs to respond

If you cannot even bathe unaided but are highly technically capable why is your life valued at nothing by this govt, who denies disabled access to housing and parks but worth over 100k to an American company. Why is it in NZ disabled are legally denied any housing they can enter, denied mortgages and homeless even while earning in the top tax brackets. Repeatedly abused, attacked, denied work on the basis of physical appearance (even with a shirt and tie the whole disabled bit is a dead giveaway) and denied rentals. In fact by the numbers the disabled are the most abused, the ones with the least access to healthcare, education, employment, housing the disabled can legally be paid slave wages less than $3 an hour and denied any support if they are unable to find work and denied ACC. Come back after being bashed for going outside or denied access to schools, public places, work and over 98% homes deny you entry. Then we can talk about discrimination. When even basic medical services are cut because the govt does not consider you need food to eat at all or basic wound care and die prematurely in your 30s from preventable and treatable conditions then we can talk. How many family members have you buried from death by discrimination in this country. Because I have stopped counting.

You can continue to espouse this nonsense from your dark little cave all you want. The roar of anger and frustration is only going to grow louder. Society is breaking down around us. You can only disenfranchise the people so much and for so long. I bet you think that anyone who is qualified and actually enjoys their field of work, yet have issues with pay or conditions, should just start an only fans page, strip down and demean themselves, rather than fighting for reform? Many of the freedoms you enjoy exist because people were willing to complain, insist on change and die for it. Telling people to keep trying to find ways to work around issues and climb up the chain within a broken and rapidly eroding system is just ridiculous.

“Survival requires us to leave our prejudices at home. It’s about doing whatever it takes... (it) can be summed up in three words – never give up. That’s the heart of it really. Just keep trying.” - Bear Grylls

Take a wild guess who the following is. I will give you a clue the Jews could not outrun the discrimination and hatred in many countries not matter how much they just kept trying and never gave up until the end. "And the present is being ripped-off and screwed-over by the omnipresent philosophy of I'm all right, Jack, which is a working-class Englishman's term for screw you, baby, I've got mine. It's your future, and you don't seem to give a royal damn what happens to it.

What fools you are. Happy, secure corpses you'll be.
You're approaching oblivion, and you know it, and you won't do a thing to save yourselves.
As for me and you in this literary liaison, well, I've paid my dues. Now I'm merely going to sit here on the side and laugh my ass off at how you sink into the quagmire like the triceratops. I'm going to laugh and jeer and wiggle my ears at your death throes. And how will I do that? By writing my stories. That's how I get my fix. You can OD on religion or dope or war or McDonald's toadburgers, for all I care. I'm over here, watching you, and giggling, and saying, "This is what tomorrow looks like, dummy."

And if you hear me sobbing once in a while, it's only because you've killed me, too, you fuckers.
I'm stuck on this spinning place with you, and I don't want to go, and you've killed me, and I resent it, and the best I can do is tell my little tomorrow stories and keep laughing as the whirlwind whips the dirt"

LOL. I'm no huge fan of Bear Grylls, but you sure love to quote people who would be appalled by your remarks about those you consider below you, especially women. "Time and experience have taught me that fame and money very rarely go to the worthy, by the way - hence we shouldn't ever be too impressed by either of those impostors. Value folk for who they are, how they live and what they give - that's a much better benchmark.” - Bear Grylls

Most people want to actually live, not just merely survive. And they are trying.. to enact change. You just don't agree with the need for it and want to stand in their way - to mock them for not working within a corrupt system, not because they aren't willing to put in effort, to contribute to society and earn their way, but because they recognize that it is the system that is broken and needs to change.

You're the one who is talking down on women! That ex-police woman was actually proud of her chosen profession and I actually applaud her bravery at going all out to get what she wants.

It doesn't mean what others are doing is wrong when you don't have what it takes to do the same.

I don't have what it takes to be a rocket scientist, that doesn't mean all rocket scientists are in the wrong profession!

"I actually applaud her bravery for going all out to get what she wants"? She literally states that she always wanted to be a vet. She mentions that police dog handling is very male-dominated and that she knew she could spend 10 years trying to get into the dog unit, and it still might not ever happen for her. She might not have a problem with her profession now, we can't know her true feelings about that. But most girls do not grow up wanting to start an only fans page. Clearly she had different aspirations before realizing all the roadblocks in her way.

You ignore the fact that she felt defeated before she had truly started in her chosen career working with animals. You don't think that is a problem at all? Shouldn't she, and everyone else in similar positions, have a decent chance at succeeding without discrimination based on sex, race etc? We have every right to make noise an insist that these systems change for the better - unfortunately we have to put up with people that think we should go make an only fans page instead.

"I always wanted to be a vet growing up and got into Cambridge University but decided to defer my place for a year. Someone suggested I look into being a dog handler with the police in that time, so I applied and planned to work my way up. I passed my qualifications but it became apparent very quickly that it wasn’t for me and the job was very male-dominated. I knew I could spend 10 years trying to get into the dog unit and it could never even happen, so I quit after one year when I was 20 years old."

BWCW...Bear Grylls? Isn't he the guy that was caught staying in 5 star hotels while he was meant to be roughing it up in the jungle? I heard he couldn't get through to room service to order that filet mignon, but he never gave up, he kept trying!

And thinks video games should be banned for children.

The Bear Grylls manifesto for narrowing children’s minds:


We are all born from different families, ethnically, financially, educationally, lovingly etc… and we have little control on our own lives as we grow up as children. Yet too many surrender to the concept that, once grown up, we are able to make our own choices to better our own life. All responsibility for our own situation is blamed upon, our race, our family's lack of finance, our social class, the government, the RBNZ etc... just as long as one doesn't ever have to look in the mirror and ask: WHAT CAN I DO TO BETTER MY LIFE?

You might want to correct this sentence: "Yet too many surrender to the concept that, once grown up, we are able to make our own choices to better our own life." It was the one I agreed with.

What a load of nonsense.
So much of our path in life is disproportionately affected by our upbringing.
It's not to say people can't better their lives, but as usual you've stated a load of trite cliches and over-simplifications.

by Fritz | 1st Apr 21, 6:39pm
Yvil doesn't give a shit. He's another parasite immigrant who has done jack for our economy. Far too many of them.
They have ruined our country.
Sorry , I am drunk and angry. But that doesn't mean I am wrong.
I am right.
And I will be censored.
Don't give a shit.

Thanks Yvil. I can now see where Fritz comments come from

Don’t let alcohol get on top, it is dangerous.
This is another problem in this country.

And yet sooo many examples exist showing just that... against the impoverished background people have made great progress and change in their lives...
The alternative thinking is dire and you might as well crawl under a rock..


Newsflash without a home and without a mirror it is very hard to look into floodwaters where you are crashing each night and find something you can do when quite clearly NZ employers do not want to hire disabled people in roles they have experience and technical professional skills in. When you have 98% of homes denying you entry, rentals denied on the basis of disability with "no cripples" replies and banks denying you mortgages on the basis of your disability it is very hard to buy freehold to even have a place to live. You could say what can be done to better my life but with very clear discrimination the only answer is to eat the rich. Many in other countries commit violent crimes because at least they have access to housing and food that way but in NZ even prison can be inaccessible. What is their left to many homeless, unemployable due to disability and even with clear bank discrimination for loans? There are not many chances when literally everyone is so busy removing access to the bottom of Maslow's hierarchy. Without housing, food access, basic medical access, access to work, access to education (if needed) and access to basic public spaces the hard truth is there is actually very little you can do. In NZ the disabled can legally be paid zero to less than $3 an hour. Try doing a back of the envelop calculation on how long it would take to buy a home freehold while paying living costs on that alone. Even company registration is greater than the amount you can feasibly save.

There is more than just one form of property. Some forms of property can be acquired very cheaply. Start by registering a company for less than a hundred dollars and start selling services to your fellow humans. Work hard, solve problems as they arise, keep it growing, and in a few years you can be a millionaire too, but with no debt, and no cultural or endowed capital. Why carry other peoples rocks if success is your goal?

You are aware most businesses fail in less than 2 years in debt right. How about we give you a shovel to start digging the grave instead. Newsflash if you don't have enough for housing then business registration is not what is needed. If you sell services you need someone to sell them too and the funny thing is you will need to pay insurance and ACC costs as well. Seems you have not been in business for a while to forget that. Try this really simple education trick that will save you millions in debt look up: 'survivorship bias'. Your advice is less useful then telling everyone they could win lotto because at least the gambler's fallacy is upfront with lotto. Convincing people they could market knickknacks, run a franchise or even sell accounting services when they have zero capital and no income for housing let alone for a business is not just downright disingenuous it is actually bordering on physically and mentally harmful, especially with the near certain knowledge they will be even further in debt with costs they are even less equipped to cover should they try. Except they often will not just try and fail, many will literally try and die.

Touched a nerve, eh. Try again, but learn from your past mistakes, you're worth it. Keep going brother. Don't worry about me, I'm battle hardened and wealthy because I've failed and succeeded more than most over the decades.

Pacifica, so your argument for not trying is that you might fail. (you say most businesses fail in the first 2 years). Do you not realise how weak of an argument this is?
Somebloke's advice is very good,"on the money" some may say but your negative, defeatist attitude is exactly why you are being left behind in life. Listen to good advice and start taking charge of your own life!

Why can’t the government just provide guarantees so that failure becomes impossible? If we increase the size of government, tax 100% of profits and redistribute them so that no business fails then everyone can live happily ever after. Pacifica is clearly just asking for the basics ;p .

"Why can’t the government just provide guarantees so that failure becomes impossible?"

That is exactly what the government and RBNZ did the last 12 months - were you asleep?

Haha, well said Sadri

But the government did just that this last year! It stepped in to ensure that no one or nothing could fail. Business failure is at an all time low the last year because government has owned everyone's losses. We have zombie companies everywhere. WTF.

So what Sadr is suggesting has already happened.

Er no but a job that pays the bills so you can have a home to live in (not even own but one you can enter at all), or how about let's not have slave wages for the disabled in the country, you know equal access to a minimum wage would be a good start.

Can it happen only in Canada or even in NZ.

Can ponzi be sustained forever - May be delay the burst by manipulating but avoiding is doubtful.

Chris, life chances can be affected both by position in class structure and by systemic racism. This isn’t really acknowledged in your piece or in many of the studies about this. Racism in NZ is real and persuasive - as a pakeha with Maori family members I’ve witnessed it.

A good article but it criticises rather than taking the opportunity to make some good points.

Tribalism by any other name is still tribalism. What is the solution? Economics. Any government interested in addressing social and economic divides will be focused on ensuring it's constituents can get good, secure jobs at decent pay rates that enable a good standard of living. Increasing inequities results in increasing attention on 'differences', be they skin colour, language, religion, or assets.

CT mentions a report, Whakatika (which I haven't read). I am willing to bet it just identifies some forms of ephemeral support for minorities, but not about jobs. Handouts will only increase division and inequities as they entrench dependency, not independence. Since the 1960s world wide, and 1980s in NZ, economic policies have served to increase division and inequities. Pressure on Governments today will be to preserve the power and wealth of those upper social classes. But make no mistake, those groups who are working the race angle, will not propose real solutions, as they will realise that those solutions will take away their power base too.

Whilst on the subject of race, I was talking to a lady who said she was half Maori. I was curious and asked which of her parent was full Maori as I know there are very few pure blooded Maori people left, she replied "none but my my is part Maori, my dad is of Eurooean descent"
My question is why do many (not all) people with a fraction of Maori descendancy call themselves Maori and ignore the majority of their other ethnicity?

The scots are the same especially outside Scotland. I'm guessing it is pride in being the underdog. I'm sure that if I was say 12.5% Maori that is what I would proudly call myself.

Regardless of socioeconomic or racial influence the following has been shown to have a negative impact on your ability to get ahead and or improve your lot...

Avoiding attendance or not paying attention at school, alcoholism and or drug taking, repeat criminal activity, damaging you unborn child with drugs and booze, and having children in your teens with no spousal support.

These negative actions appear from one end of society to the other and in all racial groups. Who is to blame when an individual chooses one or more of these paths for themselves...?

Are these causes or consequences?

I would suggest they are consequences. When one considers societal hedonism, the lower classes seem more disillusioned, and at the same time more determined to emulate the rich hedonistic lifestyles. The disillusionment leads to people wanting more now, avoiding school, and challenging societal mores. This has been discussed on this site before.

No one chooses to be disabled and that has the largest negative impact across all wellness outcomes in this country and people identifying as disabled (physical, autistic etc), experience the most discrimination and ostracism daily yet here you are. Stating it was their choice to be abused in the street, denied education, denied work, denied access to housing. Sure people choose to kill themselves but no one chooses a life of disability. Hence why when facing a life of disability and what that means because of people in society like you many people would rather kill themselves.

Well said Chris - a thoughtful and logical opinion piece - and one which will be dismissed and hated because of those two qualities.