Here in New Zealand, sanity prevails

Ahead of a terrifying election in the United States, here's a little beam of hope from Aotearoa


I just woke up in New Zealand and for the first time in ages, I didn’t feel the usual pang of dread in my stomach.

Last night, Aotearoa tallied up our election results and things went well. They went really well.

The numbers won’t be fully tallied up till next month, but we know where things sit.

Labour got a massive 49.1% of the vote, leader Jacinda Ardern beaming from the podium.

It’s hard to explain how great this feels — how sane this feels — in the midst of the unhinged scenes we’ve seen this year in places like the United States and Brazil.

Here in New Zealand — in the midst of a pandemic — I am free to move and do whatever I want.

While dear friends are held up in their houses in places like Los Angeles, New Zealanders can wander into a crowded cafe and having nothing to fear except being mauled by vicious dogs:

Earlier in the week I got to see Tiny Ruins and Nadia Reid play a show in a crowded hall. Last night, Benee performed at a giant arena.

We can mingle as much as we want at the beach. We’re free.

I guess that’s what you get when you react with sanity to COVID-19. When you don’t react with racism, disinformation and all-out lies.

I feel proud of what New Zealand managed to achieve this year. I think it’s also important to remember Jacinda Ardern’s leadership through the acts of terrorism in Christchurch last year. Headlines like this in the New Yorker say it all:

And last night, New Zealand voted Labour back in. It was a landslide victory.

I felt an extra pang of pride because this is New Zealand and we are tiny so of course I’ve gotten to know Jacinda a little.

Back in 2015 when I worked as a journalist at a small New Zealand TV station, Jacinda would come in to do a live debate on our breakfast show. Sometimes afterwards we’d go grab breakfast. She’s cool, and she cares. This is a photo from earlier this year, when we happened on a 1982 bottle of port.

I was born in 82, so I demanded this gormless photo.

The other giant thing that happened last night was that The Greens did incredibly well. They got 10 seats in our parliament, with 7.6% of the vote.

I don’t claim to have any in-depth understanding of politics — but for me, The Greens are a party who are truly progressive and daring.

They care about the environment. They care about animal welfare. The care about the rainbow community.

They keep the other parties in check — including Labour.

The cherry on top was Green MP Chlöe Swarbrick winning her seat in Auckland Central. I am constantly stunned by how awesome Chlöe is — at 26, she beat Labour’s Helen White and I think that’s a great thing for Auckland. And New Zealand.

I also take solace in who lost.

The National Party did abysmally. I wrote about them back in August: “I’m just outlining facts": watching New Zealand getting red-pilled, in real time, demonstrating how they’d stooped to Trump levels of dog-whistling to the conspiracy crowd.

Their leader Judith Collins is an attack politician. She was a regular leaker to New Zealand’s worst person, blogger Cameron Slater. This election she pandered to the religious crowd in ways that would make Donald Trump proud.

Her deputy Gerry Brownlee is no better — he’s best known as the former earthquake recovery minister who did a pretty average job helping Christchurch recover from an earthquake.

Winston Peters lost (to his credit, gracefully) with New Zealand First getting 2.7% of the votes. Zero seats for them.

And while Winston may have shut down a COVID-19 denier in a truly satisfying manner (“Sorry sunshine, wrong place!”), the dude’s been a thorn in Labour’s side this entire time. He’s always a thorn in someone’s side. Not having him as New Zealand’s deputy prime minister is a very good thing.

Now the really wonderful, bonus material:

Vision New Zealand — the latest batshit political party offshoot of the truly terrible Destiny Church — got .1% of the vote. They get zero seats in our parliament.

(You can read about Destiny Church’s grifter of a leader here: “Meet My Favourite Batshit New Zealander”)

You know who else did terribly? Billy TK Jnr’s QAnon adjacent political party, Advance New Zealand.

I wrote here about how Billy TK Jnr got red-pilled over lockdown — launching the New Zealand Public Party before combining forces with disgraced ex-National MP Jami-Lee Ross’ Advance NZ.

Advance NZ got .9% of the vote. They get zero seats in our parliament.

So here in New Zealand, on a chilly but sunny Sunday morning — things feel sane.

Things feel good.

Things feel — dare I say it — hopeful.

I know not everyone lives in New Zealand. I know the world at large is fucked.

But here, in my little microcosm at the bottom of the world, I am just going to take today to feel okay about it all.


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