Orewa versus Twyford’s bull in a China shock

Don Brash’s Orewa speech on 27 January 2004:

The Orewa Speech was a speech delivered by the then-leader of the New Zealand National Party Don Brash to the Orewa Rotary Club on 27 January 2004. It addressed the theme of race relations in New Zealand and in particular the special status of Māori people. Brash approached the once-taboo subject by advocating ‘one rule for all'[1] and ending what he saw as the Māori’s special privileges

The speech was criticised not so much for its substance but for a perceived political intent behind it. It was widely claimed that Brash was “playing the race card”, winning support for his party by fuelling racist sentiment toward Māoridom.


The poll reaction – National up 17% to 45% two weeks later:bull

The year’s first Colmar-Brunton poll puts National at 45 per cent, seven points ahead of Labour.

That is a 17-point jump for National since December last year.

Don Brash is still 10 points behind Helen Clark as preferred leader but he has risen 11 points to 24 per cent.

Don Brash said it was because of his stance on race relations.

NZ Herald

Phil Twyford’s bull in a China shock 11 July 2015:

Tell us this new data. Tell us exactly what it shows.

So this data is the comprehensive sales record from a major Auckland real estate firm. It includes about 4000 individual records. It’s every house sold in the Auckland region over that three-month period.

What it shows, I think, is striking. Nearly 40% of the houses sold in that period went to people of Chinese descent, and as your introduction pointed out, the Chinese New Zealander population in Auckland, according to the most recent census data, is about 9%.

Now, that is a remarkable discrepancy, and, in my view, it’s simply not plausible to suggest, as many have done in the last couple of years, that the Chinese— ethnic Chinese people who are buying houses in Auckland are all Chinese New Zealanders.

It points, I think, to only one possible conclusion, and that is that offshore Chinese investors have a very significant presence in the Auckland real estate market when you consider that Auckland house prices are spiralling out of control at the moment. They went up on average by about $74,000 in the last three months.

Property speculation is rampant, and I believe on the strength of these numbers that offshore Chinese investors are a very significant part of what’s going on.

But here’s the problem, isn’t it, this analysis, your conclusions are based on surnames, aren’t they?
Yes, they are, and the statistical modelling that we did with this data basically attributes probability against each surname, as the surname predicts ethnic origin.

And if you look at these names, take, for example, the name Wang – W-A-N-G. Under the modelling we did, that has something like a 95% probability that that person is of Chinese descent. Take the name Lee – L-E-E. That has about a 40% probability that the person is Chinese.

So that’s how it’s done. We believe that it’s about 95% accurate, and it certainly points to a very strong conclusion.

At best that conclusion was made up and it may be quite wrong – see Who’s buying Auckland property?.

The poll reaction:

One News/Colmar Brunton poll for July 2015 – polling period Saturday 11th (Twyford Saturday) to Wednesday 15 July.

  • National 47% (down 1)
  • Labour  32% (up 1)
  • Greens 13% (up 3)
  • NZ First 7% (up 1)

A margin of error movement for both Labour and National. Some predicted Labour would score support off NZ First but no sign of that.

This is early for any poll changes to show but there certainly doesn’t look like any Orewa sized pool boost for Labour yet, and National seemed to pick up substantial support almost immediately.

This isn’t surprising, right wing racist dogwhistle reaction is probably quite different to left wing racist dogwhistle reaction (and it should be).

Leave a comment


  1. kittycatkin

     /  19th July 2015

    The Orewa speech was, I think, deliberately misunderstood and/or misrepresented by those who refuse to see the difference between social privilege and legal privilege. Legal privilege is what caused a museum for which I worked to be told that funding depended upon having Maori committee members. There were two, but they didn’t seem to be Maori enough despite their colour (Pakeha names and wives) We had to have real Maori members. We ended up with a woman who’d come swanning in late, if she deigned to come at all, and who acted as if she was doing us all a huge favour by doing so. Did she lift a finger to do any of the work ? Hardly. Did she and others who never came near the place expect to be the ones who opened exhibitions, giving endless speeches in Maori and graciously welcoming everyone to their place ? Of course.

    Two Maori friends, kaumatuas, were really angry when I told them that the only posters I saw in the hospital when I was in there overnight (A & E) some time ago were in Maori, They felt that with lives at stake this was no time for PC, as many Maori people wouldn’t have been able to read them so would have been in as much danger as anyone ! One was on the hospital board, and was going to have this changed as soon as possible.

  2. Thanks for the laugh. Labour may well have been shocked by the reaction to their strategy but the correct expression is “bull in a China shop” referring to a four-legged beast running amok in a room full of fine English porcelain. Not, as I had always assumed as a child, the same beast crashing through the silverbeet and cabbages at our local greengrocers’ who had the surname Leong 😉


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