The McCarten risk

Matt McCarten has been said to be a very good ideas person but not so good at planning and executing.

Politically he has been a party hopper. His political affiliations:

  • Labour 1978-1979 : left when dissatisfied with Rogernomics
  • NewLabour 1989-1991 : McCarten was party president
  • Alliance 1991-2004 : McCarten was party president
    In 1999 the Alliance formed a coalition with Labour but McCarten and others were unhappy with concessions and the Anderton faction split to form the Progressive Party. In the 2002 election the Alliance tanked and lost all MPs.
  • Maori Party 2004-2005

He ended his association with the Maori Party and joined the Unite Union as secretary.

  • Independent 2010 : stood in the Mana electorate by-election
  • Mana Party 2011 : appointed interim chair of the Mana Party
  • Labour 2014-2017 : became Labour leader David Cunliffe’s chief of staff.

He continued as chief of staff for Andrew Little after the 2014 election.

Then in late August last year: Matt McCarten set to move from Andrew Little’s chief of staff to Labour’s man in Auckland

Labour leader Andrew Little is to open a new Labour Party office in Auckland and re-deploy his chief of staff Matt McCarten as Labour prepares for battle in 2017.

Little said Labour’s new office in Auckland would open by the end of September and McCarten had offered to head it.

It was part of the planning for election year, including how to target the voter-rich Auckland.

“His strength is in the networks and setting up programmes and places for me to go to and getting stuff organised. And that is what I need.”

Little said he would be spending a lot of time in Auckland and needed a base there.

Then on Q+A on 11 June (two weeks ago) McCarten announced that he was leaving Labour. When asked if he was stoked about Jeremy Corbyn’s campaign in the UK

Of course, well I mean it was huge, the big take out is that campaigns they matter, and the media no longer matters. It’s facebook, and it’s individuals who actually get it.

I think my advice would be to National is get rid of Lynton Cosby because they’ve lost so many campaigns now…

Ironic given McCarten’s lack of past campaign success.

So the big lessons that have come through is that people looking at conviction politicians. You look at what’s happened in the States with Trump and with Sanders, is that the conventional wisdom, people like us know no more than anyone else.

But what has happened now is that it’s now gone and you’ve now got Corbyn had a hell of a year, been pilloried, been knifed in the back by his own party.

When you take all the commentary away and then people just see people, they a conviction politician, and they saw that with Trump in a different way, and Sanders, and I think that’s where it’s gone now.

I think that people aren’t tuning into politics till the last month, and I think so everything until then doesn’t really, it’s kind of in our world, but out in the real world where people have got real issues they’re concerned, but what they’ll do is turn on in the last month.

And I think where before, when a year out from any election you kind of saw the polls and thought that’s pretty much what it’s going to be. I don’t think that’s the case now.

McCarten announced he was leaving Labour but That doesn’t appear to be included in Q+A video.

The Daily Blog posted more details than I recall being revealed by McCarten on Q+A

…who announces he’s starting a new Campaign For Change movement…

Matt announces his new role as launching Campaign for Change that will target the missing million voters in NZ to gain a progressive political voice in Parliament.

And followed with:  If Corbyn inspired you, the Campaign for Change launches Monday:

Matt McCarten will launch the Campaign for Change Monday. Details tomorrow.

On Monday 12 June: Labour cauterises the foreign student rort

…Labour have been burnt in the past when trying to tackle immigration. They have been insensitive and clumsy at times when trying to roll out their ideas, but this is cleverly targeted policy that has none of the tone deaf bluntness.


Also on 12 June:  Which political party in NZ is best placed to benefit from the Corbyn Youthquake?

Young people are the largest untapped voter pool in 2017. If they could comprehend the true power they and those who didn’t vote have, we could change this Government several times over. For that to happen though, the Left have to offer real policy to those voters, that’s how Corbyn won them over.

But it wasn’t until 17 June that TDB announced the launch: With less than 100 days until the 2017 election, New Zealand launches ‘Campaign for Change’

All this did was repeat the press release put out by Matt McCarten – see McCarten’s ‘new’ project.

This non-partisan campaign is being created in order to get people engaged and involved. The disconnect between a million citizens and political participation is a threat to our democracy.

The Campaign for Change is directed by the goal of full political participation.

Then the news of the intern scheme broke on Thursday (22 June) that revealed that it was very partisan and trying to get people out to vote for Labour.

But was not a new project. Despite Little’s claim that McCarten’s job in his Auckland office was to work for him, the intern scheme had been in place in February, and McCarten (presumably) and Labour party people (definitely) had been involved.

Posted on 24 February at University of Michigan: LABOUR PARTY CAMPAIGN FELLOWSHIP IN NEW ZEALAND

The Labour Party Campaign Fellowship is a unique opportunity to witness how democracy functions first hand.

To apply, please send your resume and a brief cover letter to

This flyer promoting the scheme includes the same plus another Labour email address as a contact –

The felowship scheme was written about in NZ Herald in April:  Fresh from Kim Dotcom, Hone Harawira attacks Labour getting campaign help from foreigners

Labour is shipping in foreign support for its election campaign with dozens of United States’ Democrats signalling an interesting in helping with the campaign.

The move was uncovered by Te Tai Tokerau contender Hone Harawira, who says it’s “really dumb” of Labour to enlist foreign support “to tell Maori people how to vote”.

Davis – who wasn’t involved in arranging off-shore support and was unaware of it – said Harawira had hooked up with Dotcom last election in a deal which allowed access to the tycoon’s wealth to fund a joint campaign.

“If he’s going to get millions from a foreigner and he’s complaining about people coming to help, that’s just total hypocrisy.”

Is this when Little and Kirton found out about it?

Labour’s general secretary Andrew Kirton – also campaign manager – said the party had contacted “sister parties across the world” to offer an invitation to people to observe or help with the election campaign.

He said the move to do so wasn’t unusual with Labour hosting visitors from abroad in earlier elections and also travelling to other countries to watch their election process.

“Mainly it’s in the context of an exchange of knowledge.”

Kirton would not give numbers but didn’t reject Harawira’s claim of about 30 people from the US expressing an interest. There was also interest from Australia and other countries, although the snap election announcement from the UK was likely to impact on the availability of people there.

Kirton said Labour was looking to connect with people who wanted change, rather than being wedded to expressions of party loyalty.

He said that built on work in the Wellington mayoralty campaign and Mt Roskill byelection.

Sounds like Kirton was already quite familiar with the scheme.

The ‘fellows’ or interns were arriving by last month (May), clearly associated with Labour (and with the Labour Leader’s office in Auckland).


The the document Labour Intern Scheme (undated) obtained by Newshub states “The project is managed out of the Trades Hall, Grey Lynn and the Grafton Road office”, which ties with the above photo.

The document also refers to ‘Movement for Change Ltd’ – that isn’t on the Companies Register.

This domain name registration on 15 May for is registered under McCarten’s name with the Unite union address and McCarten used a Unite email address.

McCarten left Unite to work as David Cunliffe’s Chief of Staff in 2014 and has worked for Labour (paid by Parliamentary Services) up until recently.

There seems to have been a change of mind about what to call the Labour Party Campaign Fellowship.

This domain name registration on 20 May for is also registered under McCarten’s name but uses the address of the Labour Leader’s office on Grafton Road.

So there are clear links between McCarten’s scheme and the Labour Party. He seems to have switched from supporting Little in Auckland to campaigning for votes.

Others in the Labour Party have obviously involved as far back as February.

Martyn Bradbury has some sort of interest. He posted a list of policies he said that in Why the Labour Party Student Intern ‘scandal’ is a smear.

What Labour didn’t want was a huge campaign to the Left of Labour pressuring them for a Corbyn or Sanders platform.

Labour didn’t want this…

Campaign for Change Manifesto 
1: Free public transport for students and beneficiaries
2: 18month rent freeze 
3: 5% maximum rent rise
4: $20 per hour minimum wage
5: Artists and Volunteers benefit
6: Free condoms, contraceptive pills and sanitary pads available at schools and family planning
7: Universal Student Allowance for Tertiary students
8: Free public internet
9: Lower voting age to 16
10: Free school lunches…so the fear of a successful left wing agenda has once again managed to doom Labour. Just like the candidate selection fiasco and just like the Party List fiasco, this has come down to poor internal management by the Wellington arm of the Party.

Mike Treen, a unionist who has had links to socialist organisations for a long time, has also been involved. From NZ Herald: Mystery funder behind Labour intern programme – and party doesn’t know who

Unite’s National Director Mike Treen said the union had taken part in the programme and planned to use the interns for an programme to enrol Unite members, but had not provided any direct funding.

“Matt is ambitious, and where there is a will there is a way is often his attitude. He may have tried to reach too far in this case. We thought there were positives and are a little bit sorry to see it’s all fallen on its face.”

Treen stood for the Mana Party last election.

The Labour Party were obviously involved early on, but it looks like McCarten and Treen, and possibly Bradbury, tried to manipulate Labour to the left using sanders and Corbyn campaigns and policies as templates.

Things turned to custard this week, with McCarten announcing:

In May this year my contract with the Labour Party ended and I left to run a programme called the Campaign for Change. The programme was supported by the Labour Party in Auckland, however I led and managed it.

He didn’t announce he had left until June 11.

Interesting that he refers to support from “the Labour Party in Auckland” and not the Labour Party nationally.

Earlier this week the Labour Party Head Office contacted me about these issues and requested to take the programme over so that it could resolve them. I have agreed to this and am no longer involved in the programme.

So the Labour Party Head Office stepped in and McCarten stepped down.

Has the Labour Party Auckland Branch been driving an agenda independently of their Head Office? It looks a bit like that.

It also looks like far left activists in Auckland tried to push or manoeuvre or drag Labour to the left.

The result is major embarrassment for the Labour Party, significant disruption leading into the election campaign, and a mess to clean up.

It also stuffs a get out the vote campaign.

And it also puts Labour in an awkward position regarding funding and donations. They will have to be ultra careful that they don’t get caught out, which means not trying to be clever and not doing anything that could be seen as hiding donations.

That might do Labour a favour. They are on notice to play the campaign straight now.

UPDATE: Andrew Little has just said in a Q+A interview that people associated with Labour did things that weren’t authorised by the party and it got out of control when they couldn’t manage it.


  1. alloytoo

     /  June 25, 2017

    This has a smell of rotten fish all over it, what’s perhaps worse though is the absence of mainstream coverage, very telling, and very undermining of our democracy.

  2. lurcher1948

     /  June 25, 2017

    The story doesn’t interest the MSM as there’s nothing in it.

    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  June 25, 2017

      You mean the Lefty journos are desperately trying to bury it, Lurch?

      • lurcher1948

         /  June 25, 2017

        So where do the rightwing snowflakes get their rightwing biased nerws from?? Mike Hosking unbiased articles 🙂 on kiwiblog or whaleoil…

        • Gezza

           /  June 25, 2017

          Good man Lurch. You’re upping your game. 👍

        • Alan Wilkinson

           /  June 25, 2017

          We don’t need right-wing biased nerws, Lurch. Since we are not snowflakes either we can read between the lines ourselves like grown-ups.

  3. “Andrew Little has just said in a Q+A interview that people associated with Labour did things that weren’t authorised by the party and it got out of control when they couldn’t manage it.”

    TUI BILLBOARD AD right there……. pull the other its got bells and whistles attached.

    Seriously – this reeks of trying to distance to avoid the possible repercussions under various laws that may have been breached….

    • PDB

       /  June 25, 2017

      So essentially Andrew Little has no idea what is happening in Andrew Little’s Auckland office? Jacinda, who is an Auckland MP and deputy leader had no idea either what was going on in Auckland?

      And again some of us want these people to run the entire country?

  4. PDB

     /  June 25, 2017

    If Little’s statement on Q & A about head office knowing of the scheme’s problems in May is correct then I’ve worked it all out – see

  5. Anonymous Coward

     /  June 25, 2017

    Do we really need to know that young womens name Pete? Dox much?

    • Her name has already been published in a number of other places. She has published it herself around the world. If she has been running a rogue programme usuing the labour party name but unauthorised by the Labour Party it deserves scrutiny.

      • Anonymous Coward

         /  June 25, 2017

        The student from Boston is running the show?

        • PDB

           /  June 25, 2017

          Well considering Little reckoned he wasn’t in charge and McCarten went MIA it wouldn’t surprise me if she was……..

  6. Inside

     /  June 25, 2017

    One can only hope McCarten remains involved with Labour. They seem well suited to each other in terms of capability.

  7. David

     /  June 25, 2017

    Thanks Pete, good to have the timelines and what happened when. Seems like the MSM dont want to cover the story.

    • Pete Kane

       /  June 25, 2017

      Absolutely David. Great work Editor.

  8. PDB

     /  June 25, 2017

    “A reader has sent me a copy of their complaint to the Speaker over Labour using taxpayer funded resources to organise their Campaign for Change.”

  1. The McCarten risk — Your NZ – NZ Conservative Coalition