Chris Trotter takes a look at some of the political and racial aftershocks starting to emerge following the Christchurch terrorist attacks

Chris Trotter takes a look at some of the political and racial aftershocks starting to emerge following the Christchurch terrorist attacks
Christchurch's Al-Noor Mosque.

By Chris Trotter*

Events of the sort that convulsed New Zealand society on Friday, 15 March 2019 inevitably generate powerful political aftershocks. In the days since the Christchurch Mosque Shootings these aftershocks have been almost universally positive. Almost, but not entirely.  Alongside the symphonies of unity and solidarity; the outpouring of love and compassion; a jarring note of anger and recrimination has steadily increased in volume.

The general theme of this alternative symphony is that what happened in Christchurch, far from being aberrant and exogenous, is actually a consistent and indigenous feature of New Zealand society.

White supremacy, say the makers of this music, is not restricted to a few, sad, loners and losers. On the contrary, it constitutes the underlying and active philosophy of the settler nation which New Zealand has always been. If the Christchurch Mosque Shootings are not to be the first in a long succession of similar, racially-inspired tragedies, runs the argument, then New Zealand must urgently confront and collectively address the racism imbedded in its soul.

Advanced as evidence for this grim diagnosis are the countless examples of both petty and institutional racism that daily immiserate the lives of New Zealand’s non-white population. For those who experience these constant micro-aggressions, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s “They Are Us” formulation has been re-interpreted in a radically different fashion.

Rather than the majority culture drawing into itself and protecting a community hitherto regarded with considerable suspicion, the Prime Minister’s “they” is re-identified as the white supremacists, Islamophobes and racists. The “us” refers to the settler society in which all Pakeha are able to move freely and thrive. Thus, in this radical re-formulation of the Prime Minister’s slogan: “us” becomes the racist sea in which violent white supremacist fish, like the Christchurch shooter, swim with impunity.

The solution? To dry up the racist sea. To drain the white supremacist swamp.

Achievable? Not easily. And, almost certainly, not without creating lasting and painful divisions.

The slim prospects of success will not, however, induce the promoters of these views to abandon their project. Not if our recent history is any guide. Because, sadly, New Zealand has been here before.

Like the Christchurch Mosque Shootings, the 1981 Springbok Tour was a convulsing and deeply jarring event. No less than the present tragedy, it exposed the dangerous fault-lines along which New Zealand society was prone to rupture – most particularly the fault-line of race.

This was not news to those who had been campaigning for years to persuade Pakeha New Zealand to look at and respond to the injustices inflicted upon Maori since 1840. How galling it must have been to witness the Pakeha nation, so consistently deaf to the pleading of its indigenous population, responding so bravely and creatively to the loathsome white supremacist doctrines of Apartheid South Africa and its Springbok ambassadors. Where were all these thousands of protesters when Maori land was being stolen from beneath its owners’ feet?

Such were the questions pressed with considerable disruptive energy against the left-wing individuals and organisations which had spearheaded the resistance to the 1981 Tour. That Maori were venting their anger and frustration against their most sympathetic allies mattered less than the need to force at least a fraction of Pakeha New Zealand to hear and respond to their grievances. This assertive new force of  “Maori Nationalists” was also determined to wrest the leadership of the struggle for a bicultural New Zealand from the hands of the “White Left”. When it came to advancing the revolutionary cause of  “Maori Sovereignty”, sympathetic Pakeha could serve, but they could not lead.

Not everyone on the Pakeha Left was ready to accept this new and unfamiliar role. As a consequence, the decade that followed the 1981 Springbok Tour was one of personal pain and rancour for a great many “progressive” New Zealanders. People who had struggled against racism all their lives (some of them veterans of the US civil rights battles of the 1960s) were baled-up and branded racists. Those trade unions who steadfastly refused to surrender their members resources to the Maori nationalist cause were duly branded racists in their turn. Long before the rest of New Zealand experienced the wrenching dislocations of “identity politics”, the Left fell victim to its peculiar ferocity.

Inevitably, a modus vivendi was reached with Maori New Zealand. Centred around the Treaty of Waitangi (which the Maori nationalists had originally dismissed as a fraud) it was tribally focused and deliberately co-optive of the more measured and conservative elements of Maoridom. Those who were still of a mind to beat the Pakeha, rather than join their leaders at the top-table, found themselves politically marginalised. Cultural tokenism flourished at the expense of the nationalists’ much more radical objective of making New Zealand’s settler society confront its historical demons.

Just how lightly the bicultural project lay upon the Pakeha majority was repeatedly exposed by sudden racist eruptions from the heartland. The astonishing response to Don Brash’s Orewa Speech. The large majorities racked-up in provincial centres against any and every attempt to afford Maori guaranteed representation on regional, district and city councils. The angry response to a Maori Santa Claus. Dividing and conquering Pakeha New Zealand as a whole was proving to be a lot harder than dividing and conquering the hapless Pakeha Left.

For a younger generation of Maori nationalists, however, much of this history, if appreciated at all, is poorly understood. Confronted with the nationwide outpouring of love and solidarity towards New Zealand’s Muslim communities in the wake of the Christchurch Mosque Shootings, young Maori activists have been no less seized than their parents by Pakeha New Zealand’s wayward political impulses. The weird disjunction between a Pakeha population still resistant to learning Te Reo, but prepared to turn out in their tens of thousands (and hijabs!) to keep watch while their Muslim fellow-citizens prayed, must have been acutely painful to observe.

Where are the mass demonstrations against the personal and institutional racism that every day violates the peace and security of Maori families? Particularly when the casualty-lists of these day-to-day racial injuries go a lot higher than 50.

Small wonder, then, that so many voices have been raised against the awful possibility that the broader racism of New Zealand society looks set to escape prosecution. That the Christchurch shooter, alone, will carry the blame and wear the punishment. That a nation whose very foundations rest upon the white supremacism basic to nineteenth century imperialism, should return to normal wreathed in the rosy glow of national righteousness and international admiration.

How disturbing that the take-away line from this dreadful tragedy may end up being not just “They Are Us”; not just “This Isn’t Us”; but a prideful “Who’s Like Us!”

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

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“White supremacy, say the makers of this music, is not restricted to a few, sad, loners and losers. On the contrary, it constitutes the underlying and active philosophy of the settler nation which New Zealand has always been.”
- I think Chris has mixed white supremacy with nationalism. Look at other countries - Japan, China, Saudi Arabia for example. They are extremely nationalistic and don’t tolerate their culture changing through immigration. Are they white supremacists too? No. Countries (except seemingly western countries) resist cultural change when they can.

I’ve said before in a conversation with Lapun that I believe multi racialism is perfectly fine but multi culturalism causes problems. Am I now a white supremacist? This is where I feel certain factions who support wholesale immigration are trying to steer the conversation - if you don’t agree with immigration your racist. And ironically, this is what that disgusting terrorist wanted - to exacerbate expediting tensions.

And this, from Richard Fernandez (Wretchard) a guy whose sense of the zeitgeist is less insular than Trotter's...

From unenacted policies to the automatic assignment of blame to Western civilization, the news cycle has become one continuous rant. Referring to the root causes of the Christchurch mosque massacre, a Slate article argued: "we are a nation born of shame. A white-majority Australia exists only as the result of a genocidal invasion."

Speech has never been more dangerous nor points of view more opposed. When the demand isn't "why didn't you denounce this" or "why didn't you apologize for that" it may be "why did you misgender me?" You can go to jail for saying "he" instead of "she."....
Gessler's hat is now perched in every Internet Square. All must bow before the pole or face sanction.

Having attended the Christchurch vigil last night, I can report that the vast majority of attendees treated it, as we did, as a somewhat sombre picnic, with much evidence of goodwill and peace among men - er - folks. I'm not one for Princess-Di-style crowd-engendered emoting and thankfully there was none of that. The main impression I left with was the energy and common sense of the young orators and musicians who spoke and played to us all. There are some up-and-coming stars there.

Terrorism is not new, just a modern word. They used to be called Anarchists. Then it was bombs, not firearms. Chicago 1886 the slogan was “a pound of dynamite is better than a bushel of bullets.” The world has always had extremists. Guy Fawkes was aiming to be a mass murderer. Italian immigrants were mass slaughtered in Lousiana mid 19th century. The opera house bombing 19th century Spain.It seems to me that more often it is the murderous individual, pyschopath if you like, who just needs to find a cause, any cause.. Hitler embarked as a socialist before blossoming into fascism. These fanatical murderous identities are always going to be amongst us, and nowadays the allure of fame, infamy is much more easily achieved through the media’s massive response. All that can be done is better surveillance and staying on guard.

I dont get your point that multi-racialism is perfectly fine but multi-cultural-ism is not. How can have one (multi-racialism) without the other (multiculturalism)?

Off course if you accept immigrants from cultures other than your own (in NZ case, from other Anglo-Saxon countries and then from Germanic/Nordic countries) (who by the way look pretty much like other European kiwis, so not that much multi-racial) you are exposing yourself to their culture. How do you expect for immigrants to be culturally the same as you? That is just non-sense.

I am not denying the huge social challenges accepting immigrants with different cultures to the established culture brings. Just that your point about multi-racialism being fine is meaningless. Any person with dark skin will tell you, it does not matter how white anglo-saxon their culture, they are always asked about their 'true" or "original" cultures at the first opportunity.


Race is not culture.

If someone wants to immigrate to another country, in my opinion they should look to mostly assimilate. There is a reason most people want to immigrate to a certain country and that it is that they obviously see it as better than where they are and should accordingly respect the things that make it so - Often immigrants already appreciate the culture and are not so different right off the bat.

Asking “where are you from” while potentially misguided shows an interest in someone. I’ve lived abroad and I got it all the time, no drama and a good conversation starter. And if someone was born in a country but looks different and gets asked, how hard is it to say “I was born here?” Very quickly the questioner will have a good reminder not to prejudge based on skin colour.

While culture is not the same is race , they do overlap as you as an observer place people based on how they look and sound to a culture (or rather, expected ways of behavior).

I am an immigrant myself, I chose NZ because I was not happy with the "political culture" of my country of birth and wanted a more liberal life, one that is more championed by anglo-saxon countries such as NZ. I have no religious affinities, do not follow any particular traditions etc. But will i ever assimilate into NZ the way you think I should? that will never happen. An not because kiwis are bad people or NZ is a bad country or whatever. I am not saying this as blaming anyone or saying that you should be different or whatever.

No, it is a simple fact that even if you are an immigrant that matches your description (as I believe myself to be), you will not assimilate into the rest of the population unless you start to look like, sound like and behave like the rest of the country (something that only happens by an averaging of the population and mixing of biological and linguistics features over a very long time). . It is not only about you after all. Social acceptance, is by definition acceptance by others. And others take into account how you look like and how you sound (a normal human response to this. nothing evil about it)

And I am absolutely fine with that, That is something I knew and expected when I came to NZ. I did not come here with the expectation that everyone steps this way or that to accommodate me or make me feel welcome.

The tragedy is that my daughter, born here in NZ, will inherit her father's position without her fathers' understanding of that position. This is based on my own personal observation of second generation immigrant kids from non-white backgrounds. They struggle with their identity because from a very young age, they realise that they are not the same as the "us". The food that they eat, their skin colour, the way their parents look, the holidays they celebrate (or the way they celebrate the same holiday )etc.

A basic example, we dont really have a good idea what food European kiwis eat for dinner (as me an my wife were raised by non-kiwis). We can never replicate that (or even if we can, it will be a copied, soulless imitation as if we are robots). We should look at other kids lunch boxes so we can replicate it to make sure our daughter is the same as everyone (assimilates!)

You have a very normative way of looking at things: things should be this way or that. As I said before, immigrants bring their own cultures, It is impossible for them not to do so. Even if they do their best to look like the majority in their new home (most immigrants wont do that though. they might have come here to escape harsh lives, chase a better economic or professional prospective etc not to become a white European), they are likely to look like actors and pretentious.

As a question, assume if you were given the task to write up NZ Immigration policy as you like. What question would you have asked your non-white applicants from Asia and Africa?

I know that many immigrants would agree with you.

You and Withay have blown your own arguments up, with your own arguments. Had European immigrants to this country taken advice such as Withay's this country would be being run according to Tikanga Maori and you probably would not have immigrated here.
This is where I get a bit p'ed off with some of these arguments, assuming that European-esque culture is the default setting here and always was.

PocketAces. I agree however it didn’t happen that way and we can only move forward from where we are. I didn’t say anything about European-esque culture being always the default setting anyway. If you have a delorean maybe we can do something about it but if not then please don’t misrepresent my points.

As a POM immigrant with a visible immigrant family I found your long comment makes sense. My advice is to move to Auckland North Shore where everyone seems to be different and the rarity is to find someone with parent born here. My family has had virtually no discrimination based on looks; a little more on having unusual surnames that put them at a disadvantage applying for nondescript jobs - now they have qualifications even that is no concern. I have met friends of my wife who lived in Nelson and they experienced random racism - nothing dangerous but nobody serving you in a cafe is a bummer.

Believer, interest must have blocked my lengthy reply? So I’ll summarise. I don’t care what you look like and what you eat. I care about your values hence the race and culture I keep referencing.
My immigration policy would be based around (however impractical and idealistic) a psychological test based on NZ values whether you came from Asia, Africa or anywhere else.

IMO resisting your daughter being enculturised is pointless, you should try and give her the best of both worlds.

At any rate her children and their children will be kiwis, they will talk like them, eat like them, do all the things the other kiwi kids do, Probably love sport, maybe even cricket and rugby, binge drink, have multiple sexual partners, have STDs, eat meat pies, go camping, fishing, hunting. The list gpes on and on.

Reality is that the culture is ingrained and although 1st and second generations may hold on to what they can from their cultures eventually future generations become part of and add to that culture.

Thats why its referred to as a melting pot.

I've written comments against multi-culturalism in the past and will do so again. But it depends on what you mean by the term. If you mean having family members dance at Pasifica and proudly wear traditional tattoos and the couple of Maori's in my extended family are keen Waka paddlers then I am multi-cultural. However I went to a 2 lectures by a well-known academic and what he wants is almost segregation; he was proudly explaining how parts of Auckland are becoming what sounded like ghettos to me. Having live in East London (96% local schools Bengali) and with family in Bradford I know that is a really bad idea and that it creeps up on a society insidiously.
This has been a terrible event but it has everyone talking about being New Zealanders which is good to hear.

I concur Withay


I feel the CT is mixing his metaphors if you will. He is giving voice to the bleators. I am 60 + years of age. In the regional world I grew up in I went to school and sat alongside Maori. My parents and wider family worked alonside Maori. We had the same opportunities (with one exception, a scholarship for University that I would have qualified for in the 6th Form was Maori only), the same pay rates, the same schooling, the same jobs, the same standard of housing. Everything! there was no class or economic distinction. I joined the military after a year or so out of school, and again worked in an environment that was colour blind. The only qualifying criteria was whether you could perform. I saw officers and NCOs who were Maori as well as pakeha. Indeed at the time, a Maori from Whanganui rose to become the Chief of the Defence Force, then the Governor General and now the Ambassdor to the UK. I struggle to accept that Maori are disadvantaged just because they are Maori. On the other hand - attitude, but then that is not a racial characterstic, and is held by many others.

As for abuses of the treaty? I do not dispute that the colonial Government and many settlers treated Maori very badly, and this should be recognised. But we must remember that the British have a long history of treating people badly, especially their own. they tronasported their own convicts to the otherside of the world at a time when their own judicial system has been identified as marginal at best. My own family can identify injustice in its own history that leads us to escape a landed class system to arrive in NZ in 1848. But were I to use that injustice to justify an attitude today I would be roundly laughed at.

As to institutionalised racism? I don't doubt it exists, but I ask why, and in many respects there is judgement. But a deeper dig identifies that staff in those organisations invariably work along side Maori and others, and even then pakeha may not be the majority. I find that they have no racism towards those they work with. Indeed in the majority of cases there is much respect. But then attitude is reflected in presentation, and we are likely all judgemental against people who present as having an attitude that is not conducive to having high standards. Some 10 or so years ago I found myself unemployed for a short period and had to present myself to WINZ. that experience was demoralising and belittling to the point where I laid a complaint. It would be very easy to be able to identify that i struck racist behaviour, except I wasn't Maori, or African, or Muslim or any other.

It is too easy to cry racism, when with a bit of digging it is something else. So NO Mr Trotter, THEY ARE US! The victims and their ilk are invariably hard working people with high standards. Thety appear to be a little different, they may have an accent, they may have been born somewhere else, but THEY ARE US! And they deserved to be safe. On the other hand the Australian who did this - he is NOT us!

We also need to remember that it is politically useful for some groups to create and maintain racial division. this should be stopped.

Conveniently ignoring the Maori have had their asset based confiscated and have been behind the 8 ball ever since.

With only a few exceptions, individual success depends on the asset base both financial and educationally from the parent. This pretty much explains the why....

Read it again Rastus. I don't ignore it!

Additionally Rastus, my family had no more asset base than any other in our neighbourhood whch was very definitely mixed.

Murray86. Bravo!

Rastus, I think you have missed Murray66's well made observations.

As he points out most people who find themselves with less than others can look back if they want, and find historical excuses as to why things have not turned out as they would have liked,

In fact, to exist at all, it is directly because of what happened in the past, and to think if that event had only happened for the better, that you would still exist is to totally overlook the 'butterfly effect.'

So to to keep into context what a real victim is, the dead and injured, and their immediate families of this shooting are victims -not someone who has a historical grievance, real or imagined.

Which makes me wonder about this whole. 'the boy who cried wolf' historical whining we are now hearing. 10 days from this tragedy was just too long for them to be out of the spotlight.

And to turn it into a race debate is interesting to. Even Issis have not done that, as they call for their followers to revenge the attacks on their faith/religion (not race).

Perhaps I did. But its of little value citing ones personal life experience, which are aberrations from the norm. It extremely difficult (not impossible) to get ahead without an asset base. By asset i refer to financial and educational/work ethic and so on.

Social mobility is largely a fantasy. Only the incredibly gifted can rise up from poverty when born asset less.

Yes and no.

The point I took from Murray 66, that all things being equal, which he says were between him and his neighbours, with self responsibility for your own actions going forward, then what may have happened in your ancestral past is irrelevant to your what you can achieve in the future. As I have already said, good or bad as the past events may have been, it's the only reason you exist today. There is no other parallel live you would have had, if these actions had been different, you would not have existed.

But your point on Social mobility is correct and in this context, how we use housing in NZ as a proxy for obtaining the majority of our wealth is stopping social mobility.

If you feel that the only way to have a meaningful asset (as opposed to a guaranteed roof over your head) is to buy a house, then most young couples buy too early and at a too greater cost, which stops them from being mobile with job opportunities, ie the debt ties them to one place.

This limits their future choices.

So when did your family have their ancestral lands stolen by the NZ Government? When were your ancestors treated as a 2nd class citizen in NZ and marginalised by the law and the majority of NZ's population? How did you overcome these injustices to become the self-made man you are today?

What does marginalised by the law mean? Either a law applies or it doesn't? Or are you saying the implementation is optional and if you are not of the same group as the policemen and judge you get convicted but otherwise they look the other way? Just don't understand what you mean.
Marginalised by the majority of NZ's - that applies to everyone who hasn't got plenty of cash to burn. When I enter town there are no celebrations, no fancy parades - I'm just plain ignored until I spend or perform. Good reason for not being a hermit and having a family then you are rarely marginalised.

It applied differently, for example the Maori Land Court was established to alienate Maori land ensure the Crown had the sole right to acquire land. Land was confiscated from all tribal members when Maori fought back. When the unemployment benefit was introduced Maori did not qualify.

My use of the term "Marginalized" is to convey the alienation of Maori from society and the power structures of New Zealand.

Thanks - I understand now. Seems race based laws are always a risk of exploitation even when they are may have been well intentioned

You know what they say about the road to hell..

HeavyG, injustices absolutely happened 100%. Could you help me understand when historical injustices are considered gone? Under current law, I’m not punishable for something that my parents or grandparents did or I won’t receive any compensation from anyone who harmed my parents or grandparents. What is your timeframe for historical injustice compensation and how and why does it different from my example?

Withay and HG, I suggest we need to choose for ourselves whether what happened in our family's history is going to impact on us today. I could go around today dragging my lip on the ground, saying that what happened to my family 160 years, almost six generations ago, justifies me having a bad attitude, saying society owes me a living, but i remember something i was told by my Grand Father as a child - "Who ever said life was fair? It ain't. get over it suck it up and move on!"

Before the colonials got here, Maori were slaughtering themselves in inter tribal warfare incompetition for limited resources and lust for power. The colonials eventually managed to put that to an end. But then they ripped Maori off. But that was at least 3 - 4 generations ago. One of the tools they used to achieve this was the Treaty of Waitangi, which has been rejected as legitimate by the UK Courts despite it being created and enacted, and then breached by their agents. We became independent in 1953 (?) when we signed the Charter of Winchester. This Treaty and its use/abuse is now being used by political groups and many Maori as the reason they have a poor attitude. Is that fair/right? It is creating racial division. How do we fix this?

I am Jewish from the USSR, my ancestors where killed, assets taken, my parents where not allow to go to university because of it. It will be a cold day in hell when Russia compensates me for any of that. I can sit around whining about it or get on with my life with what I have got.

This also is true for most of us, do you think English peasants where treated fairly? No vote, basically working just to survive while the aristocracy lived in luxury. What about the children sent down coal mines? Or working in a factory in the industrial revolution was a barrel of laughs. History is unfair, but we have to look forward, we only learn from it not change it.

Vague terms are easy to throw about, like "the racism in its soul", etc.
Thankfully the author has given us two examples of exactly what 'racism' he is talking about, which has put my mind at ease.
The first example of racism is anyone who is against giving guaranteed representation on councils based on race. (This is the opposite of racism).
The second example is the author's complete misunderstanding at the "angry response to a Maori Santa Claus". Of course it wasn't the colour of the person's skin at all, it was the fact that he wasn't dressed up as Santa Claus.
Are these the best two examples the author can find?

Thought provoking, thanks Chris. I'm white, 4th generation of English, Irish, Persian stock. I'm privileged but I'm not blind. Many, many pakeha NZers enjoy a similar privileged position built on the colonial, imperialist settlement of white, our for bearers. That, for most is a very comfortable position. At an individual level, I expect human nature will obstruct change.
Maori used to be a formidable economic force back in the 1800s. The major exporter of food to Australia, with its own shipping is one example. That was eliminated. Then the land confiscations and theft by obfuscation. Later came the Town and Country Planning Act 1953 - Maori no longer permitted Papakainga - mass urbanisation of Maori and rapidly a cheap source of labour. For a long time, your canned peas and tomatoes were picked by hand, mostly by Maori on low wages, Then there were the limitations imposed on Maori land development post WW2 when the colonial power determined what type of farm Maori would be able to develop - think Mohaka/Raupunga where Maori were only permitted to develop dairy farms. White farmers or soldier settlers did not have such constraints. Then there were the Pakeha leasing Maori land with 21 year rental review intervals - there are some very successful farming enterprises built on that. Took the Te Turi Whenua Maori Land Act 1993 to bring about change in that area. Meanwhile pakeha farmers got mortgage relief through the Mortgage Relief Court. More illustrations needed? Oh I haven't mentioned the ban/severe restrictions imposed on Maori accessing health care during the great flu epidemic? But that's not our generation I hear protested. As if the privileged position we enjoy is all of their own making.
Ngai Tahu and other Maori entities are demonstrating their economic capabilities post Waitangi settlements. Maori are regaining their economic strength.
Yet it , when push comes to shove, it continues to be the white colonial institutions that are the gate keepers of Maori participation.

Count how many party leaders and their deputies are Maori. Civil society depends on institutions - law, education, parliament, etc and yes they were established by people who wrote English (even when most white immigrants were functionally illiterate) and these English writers did arrive as colonists; they were also male. But to describe them as 'white colonial institutions' currently is misleading - you don't call them 'male colonial institutions'.
We need our institutions to work well and be respected; the latter is made harder by their historical baggage but you can do your bit to keep them working as I can as a new immigrant and so can every Maori.

I don't agree with much of this column.

Here, is he saying that more than 50 Maori people end up being injured due to racism?

Where are the mass demonstrations against the personal and institutional racism that every day violates the peace and security of Maori families? Particularly when the casualty-lists of these day-to-day racial injuries go a lot higher than 50.


My ancestors came here in the 1860s. Subsequently I experience much abuse at to political level and in media which is plain racist. Particularly arrogant is the assumption any view of mine does not count on the grounds of my ancestry. Racist plain and simple.
The people in Christchurch died in pain and terror. New Zealanders showed their value in our horrified response to that. However we now are seeing those deaths used as a new marketing opportunity for ideas about 'colonialism'.
I am disgusted by that.

Insightful piece.

Open, civil discussion is the only way forward. Don't suppress conflicting ideas. Otherwise they fester and eventually explode.

Have an honest discussion about racism in NZ without branding everyone concerned about it as a "totalitarian cultural Marxist" and everyone concerned about the economic effects of immigration or the compatibility of religious beliefs with gender equality as a "racist."

Also, progressives need to allow for the possibility of of redemption (a principle they should hold dear). People can change their minds. People can learn from their mistakes. People can reconsider their views in the light of new facts. Don't denigrate or shame people for this. Celebrate it where it is genuine. Allow Uncle Bob to express his new found respect for Muslims and Jacinda Adern's leadership at Christmas Dinner without going on about how he's changed his tune a bit?

The far left is already trying to extrapolate and misrepresent the causes behind this tragedy in order to progress their political agenda. And the moderate left/classic liberals won't be spared their vitriol - the modern (regressive) left is a snake eating its own tail, and this will only speed the process.

Many Maori over the last 10 years have said that they need to ban smoking because it is killing their people.
Six days to outlaw automatic rifles that killed 50,when are they going to ban the sale of ciggies that kill hundreds if not thousands.

Guns and cigarettes are a little too different to compare don’t you think?

Yes, good point, but it has nothing to do with race.

The same could be said of a deadly stretch of highway. The point I recently made on this, is that it is a 'numbers' things. Every Govt. policy has a number attached to it that ha to be achieved within a certain time frame, before action is taken to prevent it from happening (again).

The gunman knew what number he had to achieve to make things happen.

While everyone (including me) is congratulating Arden on her response to this tragedy, it must be remembered as recently as last Nov. she had the opportunity to have done something about this so it wouldn't have occurred in the first place. But of course the 'number's' didn't stack up.

I'm looking forward to hearing from her and all the other politicians as to why they did not take preventative action.

What we are lacking in NZ are leaders that are good at prevention, rather than good at being a public face in times of reaction which their lack of action indirectly set the ground work for.

And even we they try to be proactive, we get Phil Twyfords example with housing.

One is murder, one is self-inflicted. Its not an insignificant difference. And the number of smokers that want to be able to keep smoking is significant (stupid, but significant)

Personally i'm all for a ban of commercial tobacco sales, let people grow their own if they want to smoke.

I agree it would be a good thing to do, but a much harder thing to do.

Bugger all people own an MSSA compared to the number of people who smoke.

And prohibition of these kinds of things tends not to work.

What does seem to work, is what we have been doing for some time: Education and taxes.

Smoking has actually gone down a LOT in the last 10-20 years.


I struggle to understand how people keep referring to “racism” against Muslims. Since when was Islam a “race”? Perhaps it’s just another sign of the falling level of education in our society. However, it speaks to a greater issue. Most of this revolves around prejudice in various forms, which is often mitigated through greater education. However, our political leaders often resort to divide and rule tactics, which they use to distract the populace from pressing issues and crises. So, racism and prejudice are often fuelled from the top....

Since the vast majority of visible muslims are non-white, its sometimes used as a way to hide racism behind Islamophobia.
Disliking the religion is frowned on less than disliking people because of the color of their skin (by some people).

How could you possibly know this? You’d have to be a mind reader to know that someone’s criticism of an ideology is just veiled racism.

Am I the only one having my comments screeed before posting? If I’m in the dog-box, I blame you Pragmatist.

The answer to that is in what people like the alleged perpetrator think of themselves as - white supremacists. It should come as no surprise that someone like him targeted a mosque, in NZ it is probably the one place where you get maximum PoC in one place. Hatred of the religion is there, of course but it's pretty hard to separate racism and anti any particular religion here.

Compare Caribbean and Pakistani immigrants to the UK. Similar numbers arrived. The former were what Enoch referred to in his river of blood speech but now 50% are marrying out (therefore mainly white) and POMs are proud of their sporting and musical achievements.
I'd suggest you are right about racism underlying it but only to a minor extent - people are scared of Muslim bombers - I know Kiwis who changed their European holidays because of the news reports of Muslims atrocities.
Incidentally I frown on all religions and always have but one the kills you for apostasy is worse than most.

It's because people can change their religion, and be less identifiable by looks as to their ideology. When you are wanting to segregate people and cause division, skin colour is hard to hid from.

And thus it is easier and lazier to make comment on and does not require the the person making such an accusation to engage their brain before they put their mouth into gear.

To debate religious differences on the other hand.......

Difficult subject. Religion is a belief system, and I don't see why it can't be critiqued. Christianity has been widely critiqued in modern times. All religions, including Islam, should be allowed to be critiqued.

But the critiques should not descend into hatred. That is where a line needs to be drawn.

I must say that I have previously had real concerns about Islam as a belief system. They haven't all gone away, but I am reassessing in light of some of the immaculate behaviour displayed by muslims since the tragedy occurred.

I would like to understand the Koran and its interpretation better. While some of its content appears at face value quite sinister, the same can be said about the Bible. Yet the Bible's overwhelming message is one of love. I'm getting the feeling that the koran and Islam might be similar. And that like Christian fundamentalism, some Islam fundamentalists take certain passages out of context.

That's my point, if any critique is to be made, it should be about religion, not race, but the point it has descended to means as soon as you ask a question, the answer you get is you are a racist or 'have a phobia' of some type.

This allows to apportion blame without the need to explain.

And I would add that the word 'phobia' means an irrational fear, and I would suggest that there is enough evidence around to say that some fear, or caution at least, is not irrational. Maajid Nawas speaks to this here,

I would like to understand the Koran and its interpretation better. While some of its content appears at face value quite sinister, the same can be said about the Bible. Yet the Bible's overwhelming message is one of love. I'm getting the feeling that the koran and Islam might be similar. And that like Christian fundamentalism, some Islam fundamentalists take certain passages out of context.

In my opinion it's that Christianity has in many respects been defanged, including through divorcing it from the state. Many admonitions in Leviticus are identified as a product of their time and not required by modern Christianity, and this includes many that advocate putting people to death for various misdemeanours.

More liberal Muslim scholars today (and earlier in history) can be found arguing the same process is needed with regard to certain passages in the Qur'an and/or Hadith.

The problem arises when sacred texts are treated as infallible and unchangable / unable to be contextualised.

Seconded. The difference between the Christian and Islamic systems is that the former has had a Reformation, and the latter hasn't. During the course of the schism in Christianity (dating roughly from Luther in 1517 and Henry VIII in 1538 when the Dissolution was ordered) the texts were gradually re-examined over the next couple of centuries, and the Old Testament was largely consigned to the dustbin. Sam Harris (End of Faith) expounds upon this point with his usual enthusiasm.

Islam neither allows any such re-jigging of its texts (that's blasphemy), nor any withdrawal from the Ummah (that's Apostasy). Both have severe penalties. That's why most rational thinkers regard the whole edifice as an oubliette - easy to get down into, impossible to get out of, thus to be avoided. This then is the main root of the disquiet about things Islamic: it cuts right across Enlightenment values of self-determination, personal freedom within a polity, and rationality. To be sure, as long as adherents stay within the guardrails set by the wider non-Islamic society, no issues. But unfortunately for that happy prospect, there's the uncomfortable fact that the Islamic texts regard that wider society as infidels, to be converted if possible.

We've largely abandoned Christian evangelism because of its long history of abuses, mis-steps and ultimate futility. So we are not about to embrace a newer evangelistic imperialism......

Thanks Ludwig for expressing my own opinion succinctly. I completely agree and we'll done :)

Some good points Chris, however, one irony I see is that Maori are often the group most opposed to continued high levels of immigration (from the very few surveys I've seen and anecdotally) as the consequences of such high levels of immigration are only too evident from our history - disenfranchisement, disempowerment etc.
As a side note, I find it interesting/disturbing how the total net inwards migration of the first 2 decades (~60,000) after the treaty is about equal to the net inwards migration of each year over the past few years and yet no one ever comments on that and it's implication for the indigenous people of Aotearoa.

Maori have and still are commenting on it.

The late Ranginui Walker wrote a very prescient piece in the early 1990s;

And here the matter is discussed more recently;

I have not made any comments on this awful event in Chch, and will not do so .

I must admit to getting somewhat annoyed by some of the comments, but I guess we are entitled to our opinions and we have (thankfully) got free speech.

I dont agree with the comment , that people should just 'assimilate " into Western culture .

People will come here with diverse cultures , languages , beliefs and spiritual needs , and they should be welcome to bring it along and practice what they believe , as long as it meets with standards of decency, non-violence , honesty, liberty and equality.

On the score of the tragedy, I would like to see the trial commence as soon as possible, and get an understanding as to why any person would do this .

'People will come here with diverse cultures , languages , beliefs and spiritual needs , and they should be welcome to bring it along and practice what they believe , as long as it meets with standards of decency, non-violence , honesty, liberty and equality'

Very well put.

“People will come here with diverse cultures , languages , beliefs and spiritual needs , and they should be welcome to bring it along and practice what they believe , as long as it meets with standards of decency, non-violence , honesty, liberty and equality.”

Decency, non-violence, honesty, liberty and equality are very much western culture and NZ culture. And that’s exactly what should be assimilated to. I think there’s an assumption that assumption means “act like us, look like us” but I don’t agree with that. All NZers are different anyway, it’s our values like those that you put above that bind us.

This is bread & butter for our nation. The anger & bitterness over being shafted by the government (of the white people) is alive & well. It is also holding them back from being educated & growing through it, although they'll not want to see that. Sure, we may have f......d up. We've got a discussion in place to rectify these injustices. You go to any of the other 200 nations out there & see if they've got anything like this. No they ain't. And most of those nations have stories just like ours, if you want to go looking. But you don't. You just want to slag the whities off for all their bad behaviour. Maori need to grow up. Maori need to wake up & get on with their lives. Some have done so & look at them now. The others need to get over themselves and get on with it. The words from the Auckland Domain last weekend from one or two of our well known locals was not helpful. Maori are only held back by their own anger. We cannot fix that. Maori were an angry & vindictive culture a long time before the European arrived. The European brought them together, if anything, they could share their anger against the big bad white guy. Maori are their own worst enemy & have been for a thousand years. It can be very hard to help someone when they will not help themselves. As for the Muslims... don't get me started.

Excellent article, thank you Chris. We are a young and ignorant nation - of our own history, Maoridom, and I submit moreso even of other cultures and religions, particularly middle-eastern and Asian, which are the largest imports I've noticed anecdotally in the past decade. For example: Why do Muslim women wear a head scarf? How does their tradition fit with NZs young, evolving cultural beliefs, both pakeha and Maori? I don't know yet. I had to attend university to discover their were multiple treaties of waitangi, and it altered my understanding, appreciation and view on a culture I didn't grow up with. Education is key, so we can all gather the facts to arrive at an informed personal view point. Racism would thus naturally dilute and dissolve in time. Trouble is NZ imports the last ten plus years have really been difficult for most NZers, especially all those already marginalised and homeless. It will take generations of educatuon to recover, let alone triumph over racism in my opinion

Keep immigration ticking away at a lower rate - say average for OECD - keep it well paid immigrants so minus the exploitation and rorts and corruption - keep it really well mixed (not just POMs & Chinese & Indians) and the racism will go away. Very simple to achieve but there may be politicians happy to exploit identity politics.

"" The weird disjunction between a Pakeha population still resistant to learning Te Reo "".
My wife and her friend want to learn Te Reo - they are fluent in several languages. My son's college newsletter is complaining the college cannot find a Te Reo teacher and that there are none graduating in Auckland this year. Maybe the problem is less resistance among Pakeha than low interest among young Maori adults?

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