The battlelines have been drawn. The campaign to win the right to govern New Zealand has begun.
Four recent polls signal the tide is going out for Labour.
The Roy Morgan poll has National on 31 percent, Labour on 24 percent, ACT on 18 percent, the Greens on 12.5 percent, New Zealand First on 5.5 percent, and the Maori Party on 4 percent.
On this poll, the “wasted vote” for parties that won’t make it into Parliament is 6 percent. In effect their votes will be divvied up and re-allocated proportionally to successful parties.
The Roy Morgan analysis shows that overall, Labour gains marginally more support from women than men, with significantly more support from older than younger women.
In contrast, the Greens’ support comes mainly from women, especially younger women.
National has slightly more support from men than women, especially older men, while ACT’s support comes mainly from men, particularly older men.
As expected, New Zealand First’s main support comes from the older age group, particularly women, and for the Maori Party, it’s younger women.
The Post-Freshwater Strategy poll puts National on 36 percent, Labour on 26 percent, the Greens on 12 percent, ACT on 11 percent, New Zealand First on 6 percent, and the Maori Party on 3 percent.
The Talbot Mills poll has National on 36 percent, Labour on 30 percent, the Greens on 12 percent, ACT on 10 percent, New Zealand First on 5 percent, and the Maori Party on 2 percent.
And the Taxpayer Union poll has National on 35 percent, Labour on 26 percent, ACT on 14 percent, the Greens on 13 percent, New Zealand First on 4 percent, and the Maori Party on 3 percent.
It’s said that opposition parties don’t win elections, governments lose them. That’s certainly what’s playing out in 2023. Labour’s record in government is so bad, they’re not only unable to campaign on it, but they can’t even promise their way to victory with any credibility.
Reality is confronting Labour. Chris Hipkins and Jacinda Ardern have led the worst government in New Zealand’s history. Virtually everything they have touched has ended in failure. They have not only left New Zealand with broken social services that are struggling to adequately deliver even the basics, but they have saddled the country with crippling levels of debt that will take decades of careful financial management to bring under control.
Worse, during the last three years when New Zealanders trusted them to govern alone, Labour’s arrogance and contempt for the public good knew no bounds. Secret agendas, bullying, intimidation, misrepresentation, and outright lies have underscored Labour’s term in office, as they sought to manipulate both the public and the media.
The harm they have caused to our country is incalculable, and it will take a herculean effort from a new government to repair the damage and heal the deep divisions Labour has created.
To cover up their disastrous record in government, Labour’s election strategy is to go negative. Their focus is to attack National and ACT, to try to discredit any potential new government in the eyes of voters. They also have their guns aimed at New Zealand First to prevent that party from entering Parliament.
To achieve their objective, Labour appears to have given their team a carte blanche to lie on the campaign trail. As a result misinformation is rife: Cabinet Minister Willie Jackson lied when he claimed a National-ACT Government would scrap the minimum wage; Minister Andrew Little lied they would “sack all teachers and flog off schools”; Northcote MP Shanan Halburt lied they would halve sick pay days; and “staffers” lied they would re-introduce interest on student loans.
But Prime Minister Hipkins surely takes the cake when he claimed the Covid vaccine mandates he introduced were not compulsory: “There was no compulsory vaccination, people made their own choices.”
Really? If a loaded gun was pointed at your head in the form of losing your job if you didn’t get vaccinated - even though PPE was available as an alternative – isn’t that compulsion?
Even the Disinformation Project has issued a warning: “Our politicians have a responsibility to help counter false information, not contribute to it.”
With the party that claimed to be leading the war against misinformation and disinformation, now the chief perpetrator, not only is trust in Labour and its leader eroding, but by going negative, the party risks alienating their support base – particularly those older women who are propping up their vote at present.
Furthermore, if the full-page newspaper advertisements attacking National, that were funded by Labour’s trade union supporters are a sign of what’s in store, the party that won majority support in 2020 on a mantra of ‘kindness’, may well be seen as a party of nastiness.
If that perception of Labour as a ‘nasty’ party takes hold, their disillusioned supporters may well stay at home instead of turning out to vote. The big question of election 2023 will then become, ‘how low can they go’?
Labour’s worst election result in the MMP era was in 2014, when, under David Cunliffe they won 25 percent of the party vote.
With recent polls already having Labour in the low 20s, will they fall beneath that crucial 20 percent threshold? If they do, they will suffer the sort of political ‘wipe-out’ from which it will be very difficult to recover.
But a ‘wipe-out’ is exactly what the Labour Party deserves, as no other government in New Zealand’s history has treated voters with the level of arrogance and contempt shown by the Jacinda Ardern–Chris Hipkins 2020 Labour Government.
There are many questions for a new government.
Will they sweep aside the Orwellian shroud of fear that, thanks to Jacinda Ardern, hangs over the country, and restore genuine free speech and open debate?
Will they reject the rabid intolerance she introduced towards anyone expressing a view contrary to that of the government?
Her totalitarian approach to dissent was so aggressive that opposition politicians were too scared to even talk to the anti-mandate protestors camped out on Parliament’s grounds for fear being labelled ‘anti-vaxxers’. And now, even though she’s gone, they remain petrified of being called ‘climate deniers’ or ‘racists’.
Will a new government break this stranglehold that ‘woke’ ideology now has on the country?
In light of research from around the world revealing the immense damage that was caused by lockdowns, and since neither Ministry of Health advice nor due process was followed by the former PM, will a new government instigate a proper investigation into Jacinda Ardern’s management of the Covid pandemic?
Will a new government pledge to undertake a root and branch review of climate policy to remove Labour’s fraudulent measures that are now costing New Zealand households dearly?
Thanks to Jacinda Ardern’s championing of identity politics, minority interest groups now have disproportionate power and influence in New Zealand. Will a new government restore equality and the Rule of Law?
One of Labour’s most despicable actions was to betray the trust of New Zealanders by imposing an unmandated constitutional reform agenda after the 2020 election, that had been kept deliberately hidden from voters. Their plan was to replace one of the longest-standing and most successful democracies in the world with tribal rule.
Without informing the public of the significance of their He Puapua master plan, they have downplayed and disguised the transfer of power to iwi separatists.
This week’s NZCPR Guest Commentator, research scientist and author Dr John Robinson, outlines the devastating implications for our society:
“In New Zealand there is now separation into two people: the minority ‘indigenous’ Maori, and all the others, who are second-class citizens. This division is by race: in legislation, where any drop of Maori ancestry, no matter how little, places a person into that privileged group.
“There are separate rights, which are constantly added to so that the division has become increasingly absolute. Different and vastly unequal voting rights, many specified special powers over the sea, rivers, lakes, mountains – and all water systems. Different education and health systems, different rights in law, where the old tribal tikanga is given special status.”
And if anyone needs a concrete example of how dangerous introducing ‘tikanga’ or Maori custom into the law really is, they need look no further than the debacle over the Marine and Coastal Area Act, where it has led the Courts to deliver the exact opposite of what Parliament intended.
This whole fiasco was triggered when activist Court of Appeal judges issued a ruling in 2003 that customary title might still exist in the foreshore and seabed - which was owned by the Crown under common law. The resulting flood of tribal claims for the coast, forced Helen Clark’s Labour Government to legislate in favour of Crown ownership. The 2004 Foreshore and Seabed Act allowed tribal claims for the coast, but as guardians, not owners.
In 2011, at the behest of their Maori Party coalition partner, National introduced the Marine and Coastal Area Act, to repeal Crown ownership and open up the foreshore and Territorial Sea for tribal claims. The new law specified two legal tests: claimed areas had to have been held not only according to ‘tikanga’, but also ‘exclusively’ and ‘continuously’ since 1840.
With ‘ownership’ of the coast the prize, almost 600 overlapping claims flooded in – 200 to the High Court and the balance for direct negotiation with the Crown.
In a landmark decision in the first High Court case, Judge Churchman ruled that holding a claimed area according to ‘tikanga’ was sufficient to justify awarding title to multiple claimants on a ‘shared’ basis.
The Court had elevated the importance of tikanga to the point where the property rights test of whether the claimed area was held exclusively and continuously since 1840, was not even considered.
Since that decision could set a precedent for tribal ownership of New Zealand’s entire coastline, the NZCPR raised the funds to have the case appealed to the Court of Appeal.
That hearing was held in February, and we have now been advised that we should expect a decision any day.
If the appeal is found in our favour, the property rights test will need to be applied in all Marine and Coastal Area Act cases. But if the original decision stands - that only tikanga is needed to claim ownership of the foreshore and seabed – then almost the entire coastline of New Zealand will fall into tribal hands.
When National introduced the law, they assured the public that customary title would cover only a minority of the coastline. Thanks to tikanga, the exact opposite is the likely outcome.
It is surely the responsibility of the National Party to correct this miscarriage of justice and fix the law.
But at this stage, only New Zealand First is pledging a solution: to repeal the Marine and Coastal Area Act and restore Crown ownership of the foreshore and seabed.
Dr Robinson believes Labour’s ultimate objective is apartheid: “The intention is for an end to democracy. The intended future is set down in the He Puapua report, where the aim is for two unequal systems of government. That would be fully developed New Zealand apartheid… This is a broken country.”
Labour has indeed broken our country. In spite of widespread public opposition, they abolished the democratic right enshrined in law by Helen Clark’s Labour Government for communities to reject Maori wards; they bulldozed through Three Waters to pass control of fresh water from democratically elected councils to tribal groups; they established a Maori Health Authority to prioritise Maori patients over others in greater need; and throughout the whole public service a Maori world view and co-governance now dominates.
On October 14, New Zealand will either continue its decline into an apartheid-ridden tribal backwater, or a new government will begin the process of restoring our nation to the great country we should be.
Let’s hope voters make the right choice!
This article was published at the New Zealand Centre for Political Research. Dr Muriel Newman established NZCPR as a public policy think tank in 2005 after nine years as a Member of Parliament. A former Chamber of Commerce President, her background is in business and education.