Dr. Muriel Newman
18 March, 2023
New Zealand is now well and truly in the grip of ‘woke’ madness. And it’s destroying the unity of our nation.
What is “woke”? With origins in cultural Marxism, the general view is that it’s a movement that seeks social and political redress for wrongs derived from social injustice and discrimination.
Like the Black Lives Matter crusade in the United States, which attributed police violence to systemic racism, the woke movement embraces ‘Identity Politics’ with its focus on the so-called ‘oppressed’ groups in society including those centred on gender, race, and sexuality.
In their struggle for social justice these groups claim they have been the victims of systemic oppression, and they demand preferential treatment to address the wrongs.
What is particularly sinister is their propensity to attack and ‘cancel’ anyone with a dissenting voice.
Oppose the imposition of Maori cultural values onto mainstream New Zealand – including the use of karakia to begin meetings – and you are labelled a racist. If you express concern about schools teaching young children that they can change their sex, you must be a homophobe. And if you are a middle-aged European man, by default you must be a white supremacist patriarchal coloniser!
The words of novelist JK Rowling, who opposes all forms of woke repression are particularly appropriate: “If you seek the removal of freedoms from an opponent simply on the grounds that they have offended you, you have crossed a line to stand alongside tyrants who imprison, torture and kill on exactly the same justifications.”
While a desire to address social injustice and discrimination is admirable, and something few would argue against, the problem arises when the cause of the “wrongs” is fabricated to suit the political interests of those driving the agenda.
And unfortunately, our politicians seem all too willing to promote such false narratives in order to ingratiate themselves with those activist groups.
This week’s NZCPR Guest Commentator, former University lecturer and author Dr Greg Clydesdale, believes woke ideology is now so ingrained in our establishment that it represents a major threat to Western values and New Zealand’s future:
“A number of writers have noted that the woke ideology is now so entrenched in our institutions that it presents a genuine threat to Western culture. The term ‘woke’ had origins that I personally support, that is alertness ‘to racial prejudice and discrimination’. However, over time, those bearing the ‘woke’ label have adopted more extreme positions. It is now associated with intolerance and over-righteous zealots who believe they are morally superior.
“Many people complain about political correctness and the woke culture, but it is harder to identify actions that will bring it to an end… What is needed is a structured approach to dealing with this, including legislative and institutional changes. In order to do this, we must first identify how this problem manifests itself and why it is such a cause of concern.”
Dr Clydesdale explains that universities “play a leading role” in nurturing this destructive ideology, which is then transmitted to the media, education and other institutions. He outlines why the woke bias is so dangerous: from the corruption of knowledge – “I have met students coming out of teacher’s college who did not know that Maori were cannibals and took slaves, but they knew a long list of bad things that the colonial government had done”, to the refusal to publish research they disagree with.
He then goes on to suggest a number of initiatives that could be introduced to restore tolerance and the freedom of speech including, “Donors to Universities need to be aware of what is happening at the universities before they provide funds”.
This is particularly prescient given the Vice Chancellor of Otago University has just asked donors along with all alumni, students and staff to approve a new Maori name – Otakou Whakaihu Waka – and a Maori logo: “Universities around the world traditionally use a crest or coat of arms as their main logo, following European perspectives of identity, learning and knowledge. Our proposed new tohu has been designed to better reflect our desire to be Tiriti-led, and better reflect our special place and places in the world, in Oakou, Te Waipounamu, Aotearoa and the Pacific.”
With those responsible for defending Otago University having been captured by the woke brigade, the question is what can be done.
In this case, those eligible can speak their mind by completing the survey, while others can contact the University Council to express their views.
The ‘transformation’ of our tertiary institutions is shocking when one compares what they were like say 30 or 40 years ago, with what they have become today. They have well and truly been captured by political activists masquerading as academics.
The mainstream media too has failed to expose the woke agenda for what it is. They have instead become part of the problem. Like the tertiary institutions they too have compromised what was a proud tradition of independence from political activism, and as a result, they too are suffering from a credibility crisis.
Aaron Ironside, a journalist and broadcaster with 25 years’ experience, explains what happened to him when he became the spokesman for the campaign against the legalisation of marijuana: “I will never forget the day I was announced as the Say Nope to Dope spokesperson. Within hours of the press release being sent to media, I received an anonymous call from a radio station where the announcer told me that if I intended to speak out against cannabis legalisation he would bring every power at his disposal to destroy me.”
The big question is what can be done to turn things around in New Zealand as a whole, since the extremism of the woke acolytes unleashed by Labour has become a danger to society.
With this in mind, it’s important not to forget that as a key Minister in Jacinda Ardern’s Cabinet, with major portfolios including Education and the Public Service, Chris Hipkins was largely responsible for allowing this destructive woke agenda to be imposed onto the country.
As journalist Graham Adams explains, “Hipkins is aiming to pull off an ambitious ploy. Against reason, he is hoping to convince the public not only that his accession to the prime ministership represents a shift from ‘woke’ to ‘bloke’ but that he was an innocent bystander in Jacinda Ardern’s government…
“It beggars belief that anyone would fall for his double act in posing as both a political innocent and a simple Westie (‘I’m Just Chippy from the Hutt’) but our mainstream journalists appear to have. Certainly they do not seem keen to point out that Hipkins is an ideologue who has been radically reshaping New Zealand education policy alongside Ardern for years, without any explicit electoral mandate to do so… Even Blind Freddie could see that Hipkins’ legacy in that portfolio represents social engineering and ‘woke’ culture on a grand scale.”
And that’s the reality – Labour is the champion of woke, with an obsessive focus on identity politics and race. Under the watch of our new Prime Minister, New Zealand has been transformed into ‘woke’ society where anyone questioning any aspect of the Government’s social justice agenda is treated as an enemy and cancelled. And while the “Queen of woke” may be about to leave Parliament to presumably pursue opportunities in the woke industry abroad, unless major reform is introduced, very little is likely to change.
But Chris Hipkins is an astute political operator who’s determined to win the election. With a stage-managed persona and a disarmingly boyish demeanour, not only does he come across as down to earth, but he is cleverly positioning himself as the antithesis of woke – Chippy, the common man, versus Christopher, the corporate suit.
As New Zealanders become increasingly fed up with the woke agenda that Labour has imposed onto the country, Christopher Luxon is showing little sign of recognising the changing mood of the nation – as Karl du Fresne noted after hearing him being interviewed on Morning Report late last year: “It was profoundly depressing… He appears desperately eager to convince the media that he’s sympathetic to the woke agenda… Here was the leader of the country’s principal conservative party adopting the terminology of the woke Left in a pathetic attempt to persuade the public that he’s no right-wing ogre.”
Karl goes on to say, “Someone should explain to Luxon that every time he indulges in these appeasement games in an attempt to persuade the Left that he’s no threat – a strategy that won’t win him a single vote, since they won’t vote National anyway – he alienates more of the people whose support he should be seeking.”
Chris Hipkins is better attuned to voter sentiment. He knows that at a time when crime is escalating and the economy is tanking, middle New Zealand has little tolerance for woke.
That’s why he’s announced a $1 billion bonfire of unpopular woke policies, to enable his party ‘to better focus on bread and butter issues and the cost of living crisis’.
The policy cuts include the merger of RadioNZ and TVNZ, the social insurance scheme, the biofuels mandate, hate speech legislation, the planned lowering of speed limits around the country, the ‘clean’ car upgrade, a ‘clean car’ social leasing programme for low-income families, a used container refund programme, and alcohol reforms.
Some of these policies, of course, may not have actually been cancelled, but merely shelved until after the October election.
A clever tactic has been to associate these policy cuts with ‘sweeteners’ to take the focus away from what has been lost. The first ‘sweetener’ was the largest ever increase in the minimum wage of $1.50 an hour to $22.70 from April 1 – a measure estimated to cost employers over $280 million. And the second, worth $2 billion, involves the reversal of a 2019 Budget initiative that changed the indexation of welfare benefits and superannuation from inflation to the average wage, so that from 1 April payments will be switched back to increase in line with inflation.
While Chris Hipkins hopes these initiatives will help the party retain the 400,000 swing voters who supported them into office in 2020, as yet, he has not revealed how he intends addressing some of the deeper problems facing the country – namely those caused by Labour’s He Puapua agenda to replace democracy with tribal rule through co-governance.
One key He Puapua initiative – the introduction of Maori control of health – is now having such a dire effect that some are warning the health system is on the verge of complete collapse.
Another policy area that experts have warned will end in disaster is Labour’s key He Puapua initiative to deliver control of water to Maori through the Three Waters reforms.
When Chris Hipkins finally announces his proposed changes to Three Waters, it will signal whether, like Jacinda Ardern he remains committed to tribal rule and an Apartheid regime for New Zealand, or whether he intends to restore democracy and equal rights.
Since we do not know how serious Chris Hipkins is about reversing He Puapua and other ideological policies, this would be an ideal time to let him and his colleagues know that the woke agenda his party has imposed onto our country is now out of control and must be reversed.
The contact details for all MPs can be found on the NZCPR’s ‘Have Your Say’ page HERE.
National also needs to be left in no doubt that New Zealanders deserve to know whether their Party will declare a war on woke and take a stand against insidious racism, intolerance, and vindictiveness, or whether they intend sitting on their hands and turning a blind eye.
The reality is that New Zealand needs a champion to save the country from the woke mess it is now in. Will Chris Hipkins or Christopher Luxon step up – or will it be someone else?
MURIEL NEWMAN Dr Muriel Newman established the New Zealand Centre for Political Research 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.
Republished with permission from https://www.nzcpr.com/the-war-on-woke/