Trump or Brexit in New Zealand? Yeah right.

Think Trump-style wedge politics or a Kiwi-style Brexit movement is on the cards? Yeah, nah, not going to happen here bro. And here’s why.


Before we moved back to New Zealand earlier this year my husband Paul and I and our growing family had been living in Northern Ireland for 18 months.

While we were there Paul had only one rule, and that was I was never, ever to answer the door during any type of government or council elections. He was terrified that some ignorant sod from some ultra-conservative political party (which is *all of them in Northern Ireland, to be honest) would set me off on yet another rant about why politicians should do crazy things like leave my uterus alone, allow people who love each other to marry or not let packs of foaming dogs rip apart a live fox.

But one afternoon Paul was busy upstairs tending to a patch of baby spew on the rug and a man clutching a plastic shopping bag rang the doorbell and, forgetting the House Rule, I answered the door.

His name was Jack Irwin, he was standing for the Conservatives, and he wanted my vote. Well, I don’t know if old Jack was just having a bad day or what, but our little doorstep exchange ended with him screaming at me from the top of my driveway.

“And go back to where you came from” were his parting words.

And so I did.

Now that wasn’t the moment we decided to pack up our beautiful, centrally-heated home filled with IKEA furniture (that doesn’t travel well, FYI) and fly back to New Zealand with twin seven-month-old babies and a toddler, two. That decision had been months in the making, a combination of homesickness and terrible weather and a political and social and education structure that just never felt right.

But those words were a kick in the guts notheless, a rare glimpse for me, an Australian born into a world of white privilege, of the cruelness and bigotry that so many can wield.

It made me cry tears of relief when our plan landed back in New Zealand, back in a country where my sons’ play group has everything labelled in English and Maori, where their little play date friend is a boy born in New Zealand to Chinese parents, where it doesn’t matter where you went to school, or what your religion is, where you can marry who you love and make your own choices about your reproductive health.

There’s been the odd opinion piece make it into print down here about how a Trump/Brexit-style movement is going to sweep across this beautiful country and, depending on the writer’s leanings, we get a ‘this is a good thing/bad thing’ lesson.

While I sort of admire their stick-beating approach, I can tell the rest of you right now that it ‘aint going to happen, not now, not ever. Because I have come home to Aotearoa, a country I want my children to grow up in.

And when a country is good enough for my children, where my sons can marry who ever they fall in love with, well, that love is always going to trump hate.

* With the exception of the wonderful Councillor Owen Gaith of the Social Democratic Alliance party, who keeps fighting the good fight.


4 thoughts on “Trump or Brexit in New Zealand? Yeah right.

  1. Angela,it`s not going to come as any great shock to you or to anyone else who reads your “stuff”, that my interpretation of what happened on the afternoon in question to put it as politely as I can, differs somewhat to yours.As you know,the B.B.C. contacted me after your complaint to them and I gave them a full explanation of what in fact happened from my point of view ,which as I say,was not “at one” with your overly dramatic,inaccurate,offensive,nay defamatory take on the “encounter” and they were more than happy to accept my report of what did indeed take place.However,I will unreservedly concede that I found your views on my “homeland” Northern Ireland ,it`s people and it`s politicians unacceptable!!Ironically,the issue of The Conservative Party not supporting gay marriage which you ” attacked” me on as soon as you opened the door, was actually a non-issue because as I tried to explain to you at the time during your tirade against me,everything Northern Ireland and The Conservative Party,my party in fact supports gay marriage,I`ll repeat that,The Conservative Party supports gay marriage and indeed my own position of support on this issue was made clear ad nauseam during the election campaign.Perhaps it was you having the “bad day” and I have to point out,that was the clear feeling I had when you answered my knock on your door on that fateful afternoon,particularly when everyone else on that day and generally,had been so nice!!!!Now back to the defamation aspect of all of this.At the time of your ridiculous allegations to the B.B.C.,it did occur to me to take legal advice on all of this,as Defamation Law was not something I was very familiar with during my career as a Solicitor.Indeed potentially the B.B.C. may also have had the legalities of the situation in mind amongst other things at the time.However,you have now “gone public” and are calling my character into disrepute,something I will obviously have to give thought to.In conclusion[potentially for the moment] I have to admit that the carrier bag was a bit “tacky” but quite simply on that particular day,I had forgotten to bring a more appropriate case and without something to carry my leaflets in [you`ll remember those and in particular how you tore up the ones I gave you in my face before slamming the door,again in my face and before you opened the door again to follow me across your driveway, as I was leaving, shouting at me at the top of your voice] I rather stupidly kept dropping them,not exactly what you want to happen when you are trying to be very professional in order to impress people and get them to vote for you!!!!!!!!!In absolute conclusion,it`s interesting,is it not, that you concede to having had other less than satisfactory interactions on the door step,perhaps you should have listened to Paul and that Paul failed to come to the door to rescue you,if as you allege, my treatment of you was so appalling!?!?By the way you shouldn`t be “ageist”,as I find it highly offensive and you certainly hold a grudge,even if it`s based on a totally false premiss.William John[Jack]Irwin.


    1. Thank you for your response Jack, I am genuinely thrilled you took the time to read my column. May I gently point out a few things:
      1. There was no misunderstanding on my part about your party’s support of marriage equality. My issue was that you had previously stood as a candidate for the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) , which is, and always has been, very much opposed to marriage equality. If you want to enter politics, as you say, to make a real difference in Northern Ireland, you should perhaps have taken heed of my advice to not shop around the major political parties to get chosen as a candidate and instead put your money where your mouth is and stand as an independent.

      And second, and more importantly, the issue was you told me to “go back to where I came from”. That is offensive at best. Now, maybe you were having a bad day, maybe I said something that got under your skin, but you said it, I heard it, my husband heard it, my children heard it, and you have not denied saying it.
      It is a terrible thing to say to someone, and it should be self-evident to someone such as yourself why that is so.
      As someone seeking public office (and a taxpayer funded salary) I expected better, and the voting public seemed to agree.

      Oh, and next time you run, as I expect you shall, make sure you put on your election pamphlets that you support marriage equality. From memory it was missing from the one I tore up.


  2. Angela,I have just replied to your “column” from this a.m. but for some inexplicable reason it has not been recorded on the “page”??!!Please let me know whether or not you get it.I have also contacted “Lady Writer” on this.Jack Irwin.


  3. P.S……..What I rather stupidly forgot to tell you was that my “comment” to you last night was “posted” for a short while but then disappeared!!!!????Intriguing in that is it a case of system malfunction,manipulation or simple incompetence??!!


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