Books and documentaries on NZ political and economic history

A 25 year old dude with an interest in New Zealand politics asked at Reddit – Can anyone suggest a book that discusses NZ politics and economics of the past ~70 years?

My issue is, there is very little information available to me that lays out our entire history.

I’ve looked everywhere I can think of and I haven’t been able to find any concise histories of what the hell happened in our country in the last 70 years from our free trade deal with the UK til how we got to where we are today.

If anyone could suggest a book, it’d be greatly appreciated.

Hearing the last generation making vague allusions to events that happened 30 years ago that shaped their political views that I have no understanding of really makes it hard to evaluate where we are today.

There are a lot of misleading (and false) claims and assertions about what happened here economically and politically through the 1980s and 1990s (the move to the much maligned and misrepresented ‘neoliberalism’).

Some suggestions in comments at Reddit:

The documentary Revolution on NZ on Screen covers everything from postwar to post-Ruth Richardson era. It is very good.

Great series, I came across the book recently too. Adds some interesting detail.

Revolution (part one) – Fortress New Zealand

Documentary series Revolution mapped the social and economic changes in New Zealand society in the 1980s and early 1990s. This first episode focuses on NZ’s radical transformation from a heavily regulated welfare state to a petri dish for free market ideology. It includes interviews with key political and business figures of the day, who reveal how the dire economic situation by the end of Robert Muldoon’s reign made it relatively easy for Roger Douglas to implement extreme reform.

Revolution (part two) – The Grand Illusion

This second episode argues that in its first term in office, the Labour Government promoted neoliberal reform via illusory ideas of consensus and fairness, while PM David Lange mined goodwill from its indie anti-nuclear policy (famously in an Oxford Union debate, see third clip). The interviews include key figures in politics, the public service and business: an age of easy lending and yuppie excess is recalled, while those in rural areas recount the downside of job losses.

In a Land of Plenty (it’s on the youtube) is worth a couple of hours, focused more on our primary industries

New Zealand – In a Land of Plenty Full

2002 Documentary about economic changes in New Zealand during the 1980’s. Documentary by Alister Barry and narrated by Ian Johnstone.

Book suggestions:

by Raymond Miller covered enough of the basics to get through a 100 level Politics class, Miller was the lecturer though so of course he’d build the class content around his own book. “Democracy in New Zealand”

Raymond’s books are great. I’ve read a couple even though I only took a single politics gened. Recommend Party Politics in NZ too even though it’s moderately outdated now.

Can’t go wrong with Kings’ Penguin history of New Zealand for a great explanation of Maori colonisation to the present, and for the 20th century rudd & ropers’ the political economy of new Zealand is an excellent political & sociological analysis of our economy that doesn’t read like paint drying.

The Penguin History of New Zealand – tells that story in all its colour and drama. The narrative that emerges is an inclusive one about men and women, Maori and Pakeha. It shows that British motives in colonising New Zealand were essentially humane; and that Maori, far from being passive victims of a ‘fatal impact’, coped heroically with colonisation and survived by selectively accepting and adapting what Western technology and culture had to offer.

Perhaps: New Zealand Government and Politics

Sixth Edition Edited by Janine Hayward

New Zealand Government and Politics

  • Contemporary: updated following the September 2014 NZ election, makes this the most current text on the market
  • A truly introductory text the sixth edition has been carefully restructured and rewritten to suit the learning needs of first year students. Key introductory topics are covered early on, concepts have been simplified and there’s no assumed knowledge (as well as less specialised chapters).
  • Highlighting of Maori politics. NZ political science has taken a very long time to engage with this issue, and it is not only profiled right up front in Part 1, but also thematically woven through the other sections

I highly recommend Paradise Reforged by James Belich for his look at post-war economic and political history. His theories are entertaining AND enlightening. You’ll never guess how much of our history revolves around butter.

Paradise Reforged – A History of the New Zealanders, 1880-2000: The sequel to the best-selling Making Peoples, which was a bestseller and award-winner in New Zealand. It picks up where Making Peoples ended – at the beginning of the 20th century. The volume presents an account of a country which in 100 years undergone massive changes as a flood of “Pakeha” (European) immigrants built on the land opportunities opened by the ferocious British-Maori wars of the 19th century. Torn between British and Maori identities, New Zealanders have successfully created a new nation but one in which the tensiosn and injustices of its founding are never far from the surface.

If you’re looking for specific topics, the NZ Journal of History can be quite useful.

And Papers Past if you want to read what people were saying at the time (although it’s missing a lot of the more recent stuff).


A bizarre obsession on Reddit

Some probably unremarkable news from ODT:  Mystery surrounds food court refurbishment

Renovations mean the food court in Dunedin’s Golden Centre Mall will be closed until early next year.

Centre manager Lee-Anne Anderson said in an emailed statement  the refurbished food court would reopen in 2019.

Plans for the project were still being developed and people should check on social media for updates,  she said.

It is not clear if the businesses previously operating in the food court would return once it reopened.

Food vendors contacted  yesterday did not want to comment about the situation or whether they would return to the new  food court.

The food court reopened in 2012 after $1.5million upgrade which began in the middle of 2010.

My guess is that this food court was a financial flop for the vendors. It never looked very busy.

So far, not bizarre, just curious news.

But this item was posted on Reddit: Mystery surrounds food court refurbishment

A comment in response:

OK, here’s what I understand. The food court is not going to re-open. Instead, the space has been leased to a venture called “123hnd”, which is going to use it as its worldwide hub for posting even more content online from what some call Shitty BlogsTM.

From what I understand, 123hnd wants to step up the output in 2019 and has brought in Pete George/Your NZ as a partner (because everyone knows that hnd123 is just Pete George), with Māori TV and Michael Reddell (croakingcassandra) also forming part of the team. Talks are still underway with Martyn Bradbury (The Daily Blog), with the hope that he will also join 123hnd at the former food court.

I’ve noticed a few times lately being the subject of lame attacks on Reddit. Some tere seem to be obsessed with ‘attacking the messenger’ while ignoring the topic of the post.

I can categorically say that I am not ‘hnd123’ and I don’t post or comment on Reddit at all. I saw someone claim once that I have been banned from Reddit – do they ban people who don’t use it?

This is just an example of the lengths some people go to to try to discredit people they have taken a dislike to for whatever reason. This is just the dirty nature of social media, and shows the inane stupidity of some.

NZ reddit mods removing threads on free speech

People using reddit have been complaining about r/newzealand threads on free speech being locked or removed. It’s seen by some as an attempt to control or limit speech on, ironically, free speech, which has been a very popular topic over the past week or two.

Here at YourNZ threads on free speech and Molyneux and Southern have remained popular.

reddit: Mods locking/removing threads related to the fascism/free speech debate for simply being about the same subject.

There were three new threads this morning, all of which were locked and then removed.

All three were different links. One was a tweet, one was an article on the DailyBlog, one was an article from Trotter’s web site. All three were locked and removed, with links directing people to a discussion over 13 hours ago under a NZH article submission about Lauren Southern – so not even directly related.

No thread broke the rules yet the mods seem to be actively stifling the threads for god knows what reason. Bit ironic, no?

So, what’s up mods? Can we expect this to happen with other subjects you don’t like? Or perhaps I’ve got it wrong…

edit: keep in mind we are now unable to submit an article from Chris Trotter because the mods are removing it. There are no threads for this article yet it is being removed.


There’s absolutely not been enough discussion about this at all, and the mods are TOTALLY removing all of the posts about it…

Nope, topic totally hasn’t been beaten to death yet. Better post multiple more posts about it every day from every blog we can find!


Meh, I’m with the mods on this one. There’s no new information coming with these new links – they’re just random opinion pieces. And there’s a discussion thread that’s only half a day old.

We’ve had over 1000 comments on the topic so far, and the mods have pretty much let the discussions run free. Can we not jump to conclusions like ‘the mods are stifling the threads’?


Different links, same subject. No radically new information is being presented and the subject has been hashed and rehashed for well over a week almost every day in the sub.

It isn’t that the we hate the subject, its got to the point where they’re just “duplicate” links and borderline spam.


Damn, how many ways is this answer fucked up.

No radically new information is being presented

Thanks for your opinion. I’d rather make that assessment for myself.

the subject has been hashed and rehashed for well over a week almost every day in the sub.

Which tells me it’s a highly interesting and popular topic. Great strategy to start dumping those.

It isn’t that the we hate the subject…

Which is the point. Love it or hate it, you’re free to ignore it. That’s what reddit is. I personally have zero interest in the topic and have clicked exactly zero of the articles and consequently have zero sense of being spammed, trolled or inconvenienced.

It’s common for people to complain about things they can easily avoid if the topics don’t interest them.


OK so consider we do the same to China’s influence in NZ? We’ve had countless threads about that, should we delete all future submissions?

It’s a slippery slope IMO.


The only slippery slope is you going from “several threads from this morning” to “delete all future submissions”.


This has happened numerous times in the past such as when John Key resigned: the mods were deleting any thread, didn’t matter what was in it or where it was from, because we had already had one thread on him resigning.

Do you not see an issue with this?

The problem is the thread they directed people to was about Lauren Southern. Trotter’s article which the mods won’t allow to be submitted isn’t about Lauren Southern at all.


The rule is no duplicates so I guess the interpretation of ‘duplicate’ is up to the mods.

I guess my question would be how do we track the evolution of a topic if anything on the same topic is removed apart from the original post? Are we not allowed to share opinion pieces for a news story that has already been posted? Because if so you can forget about pretty much all opinion pieces.


Boo hoo, this isn’t a democracy or a place of free speech, the Mods can choose what goes on and what doesn’t.

If you want total freedom go to Voat

Free speech is only as free as those who make and enforce the rules on any given forum.

Chris Hipkins ‘Ask Me Anything’ today on NCEA

Minister of Education Chris Hipkinsn is fronting up on line to allow people to ‘Ask me Anything’ about NCEA, and I presume anything else about education or government.

Reddit: Announcing NCEA AMA with Chris Hipkins and Jeremy Baker – July 9th 3:15pm

r/nz is pleased to announce an AMA with Education Minister, Chris Hipkins this Monday at 3:15pm. Here’s a quick message from the Minister:

Chris Hipkins:

I’m really pleased to have this chance to discuss NCEA with you all, and answer any questions you have about NCEA and the review which is underway.

I’ll be joined by Jeremy Baker, Chair of my Ministerial Advisory Group who developed the thinking around the ‘Big Opportunities’ for strengthening the qualification for all our young people. These opportunities are designed to provoke, inspire, and encourage the kōrero on NCEA. Please feel free to ask questions about these ideas, or about NCEA and the review.

There’s some good conversation happening about education in New Zealand at the moment. To make this session useful it would be good to keep this conversation focused on NCEA. Feel free to submit your other views on education through our Education Conversation website –

I want to make NCEA a stronger qualification for all our young people – Ask me Anything!


“…this whole election has just been a giant fucking kick to the guts?”

Inevitably there are people who are disillusioned by election campaigns as they become aware their ideals are a long way from being realised.

From Reddit: An election of disappointments…

Far out. Is anyone else feeling like this whole election has just been a giant fucking kick to the guts? This is the first election that I’ve followed closely (during previous ones I’ve been too young and distracted). But yeah, this whole lead up to the election has continually pushed me further down a path of disappointment in politics.

Before the election campaigning started, the state of NZ was pretty disappointing. Huge inequality, super high imprisonment rates, high child poverty, tax loop holes that were massively perpetuating inequality, disproportionate housing prices, high suicide rates, environmental destruction/pollution… you get the picture – NZ certainly had room to improve.

Initially it was looking like another National win. Disappointing, more of the same inequality perpetuated…

Then the Greens (who were, in my opinion, a shining light of hope in that at least the environment might get some wins) started pushing their environmental policies to the back benches, in their attempts to win more votes through social/economic polity. On top of that, the Greens then fell victim to some silly nonsense that was blown out of proportion by the media. Disappointing that the media did that, and that the general public reacted the way they did…

It was great to see Turei standing up for her values, and to see a bit of an up-rising of people in similar (oppressed) positions. But then she gave up, and stood down… disappointing.

Then Labour changed their leadership (but kept 90% of the same policies), and the public started frothing at the loins. It was heartening that we might be able to take a small step toward more equality with Labour’s policies, but disappointing that the public could be so shallow as to have their vote swung by a new face alone.

And now, for fuck’s sake, Labour has bowed to National’s pressure and the size of the possibly small step in the right direction (toward more equality) just got 100x smaller… we’re now all staring down the barrel of the same old gun of perpetuating inequality no matter which major party wins… disappointing as fuck.

The one true beacon of hope in all of this, in my opinion, has been TOP. A fresh party with fresh policies that are actually based on evidence and expert input. But again, disappointing that the general public seem to be too blinkered to even take the time to consider an alternative…

I guess I should just be happy that I’ve been lucky enough to have had the amazing opportunities that have placed me above the half way mark, and I’m on the lucky side of the perpetuating inequality… but still, it feels like a kick to the guts. NZ can’t really win this election.

Are all elections this disappointing?

Can anyone point out some positives for me? Please?

Parties and candidates can’t please all of the people all of the time.

But in their desperation to appeal to all voters do they end up disappointing everyone?

I’m certainly disappointed by the quality of this campaign, by what is on offer and how it has been offered.

The worst thing National has done?

An interesting thread at Reddit: What’s the worst thing National’s done since being in power?

When assessing these it is worth considering whether a different Government could have done better – or is likely to have done worse.

Defunding youthline when NZ has the worst youth suicide of all time and removing money from mental health services in general.

Youth suicide and mental health in general is definitely up there as one of the biggest issues that has been completely swept under the rug. What a completely nasty bit of budgeting to cut the funding, looking back it’s unforgivable.

Modifying the definition of acceptable levels of E.coli in swimmable water from 1% to 5% to make it easier to meet targets for cleaner water.

Disbanded the democratically elected Canterbury Regional Council in order to install commissioners favourable to irrigation. Regardless of the arguments for and against water storage, you don’t remove democracy because it’s not delivering the result you want (or, as they labelled it, ‘dysfunctional’).

Stopping contributions to the Super fund has meant that it is currently about $20 billion less than it could have been.

The worst thing they have done is nothing. They squandered the largest reserve of political capital seen in a generation. Think of how much good Key could have done if he decided to use his popularity for enacting politically challenging changes that everyone knows are important but won’t act on, rather than reinforcing the status quo.

They used Goldman Sachs to sell half of our power companies to private interests on the eve of the electric car revolution, so now we have a profit focussed instead of utility focussed power sector right as we are about to transition from oil to electricity. And the interest saved on the money they got is a tiny fraction of what we as the taxpayers would have got from returns on those companies.

…they sold 49% of the SOEs. So, no actual structural change; just a one-off cash grab. If you truly in your heart of hearts believe that the private sector is the best place for these things, then fucking sell the whole things and be done with it. Their approach was worst of all worlds — one-off cash injection they didn’t need, combined with lower dividends in perpetuity, without any of the purported benefits of privatisation.

The combination of increasing the regressive tax GST to 15% and removing the top income tax bracket of 40% on the rich was a massive blow to egalitarianism in New Zealand, and has harmed not only poor people but our economy as a whole.

Rushing a law through in a day to overturn a case where it was ruled carers of disabled who were related to their children should receive money from the government. They also took away their ability to complain to the Human Rights commission about it. Harmed constitutional integrity of the nation and was bad for human rights.

Inaction on the housing crisis. For years they denied there’s a problem and now there is likely going to be a whole generation of people that can’t afford to buy. Doesn’t help the inequality situation.

The Resource Legislation Amendment Act. It will slowly destroy the New Zealand wilderness we grew up with. Pokey old alpine lodges in the wild places of NZ will be replaced by a private billionaires’ playground.

The thing that angers me the most is the constant threats and cuts to important services like Women’s Refuge, and Suicide prevention/ Rape Crisis helplines. The money is so small and they constantly cut or put tight restrictions on funding, then they look benevolent when they give some back or restructure it’s crazy.

…child poverty. Has anyone said anything about child poverty? How did we miss this… it was bad when they took over from Labour and things have not improved at all and in some measures gotten worse.

As a teacher the worst thing I’ve seen them do is remove teacher voice from our own professional body. They stripped away our right to elect representatives to the Teachers Council, making it a totally Minister-appointed body with the ability to re-write our standards and raise our fees however they see fit. It’s literally taxation without representation. They did the same to the university governing bodies as well.

Privatization of social services. Selling off assets. Rise in inequality, Housing cost, Living costs, and all in all just being out of touch with most kiwis.

Defunded evening classes for adults.

Told a boat load of lies about the Kim Dotcom case.

They sold our assets while the country screamed “NO!”.
They destroyed our privacy rights while the country screamed “NO!”.
They stormed ahead with the TPPA while the country screamed “NO!”.
They used things like Salmon Snapper Quotas and Flag changes to distract the population from the real stuff.

Imo they have a tendency to govern based on personal opinions and beliefs. When presented with facts, evidence, proof, they somtimes bend. Other times it is clear they aren’t interested.

Implementing a broken-by-design emissions trading scheme, and knowingly counting fraudulent carbon credits towards our emissions reductions targets.

If you want to get into any profession that requires post graduate study, you have to have well off parents to pay for your living costs. If you’re from a poor family, you can forget about being a vet or a doctor unless you’re happy to borrow to support your living costs as well.

The Student Allowance will no longer be available for postgraduate study (except Bachelor degrees with honours).

Studylink Budget 2012

the proposed flag change – the entire process is indicative of National… starting with an idea with some merit and completely fucking up every single stage in the process to end up with a result that satisfied nobody.

Removing voting rights for prisoners in NZ. Anyone who is detained in prison is de-registered and cannot re-register until they are released from prison. The High courts have since ruled that the legislation is inconsistent with the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act. In passing the legislation they sent it the Law and Order select committee instead of the Justice and Electoral select committee. A majority of submissions to the select committee were against the bill (skewed by an Otago uni paper assessment) and only two were for. One of those two was the bills sponsor. Voting rights are fundamental to a functioning democracy.

Passed the “Hobbit law” under urgency, which has since destroyed workers rights in the film and television industry, at the behest of Warner Brothers.

Letting the regions flounder and die.

They didn’t take global warming seriously. None of these other issues matter because when our environment is destroyed, it won’t be able to support a society.

Kept the Act party alive.

Surveillance state.

Boy racer act. Solved nothing and is anti-youth.

Continuing the failed war on cannabis in this country I would count as a failure on National’s watch.

Obviously this went much further than the worst that the National Government has done and there are a number of less major additional gripes. There’s quite a bit of discussion on many of those.

Which is the worst?

Which of these are unfair criticisms?

Which are just ideological differences?