The Myth of New Zealand’s Strong Economy

I keep hearing the repeated emptiness that New Zealand has a ‘strong economy’. It has become a cliché, a soundbite that has become unthinkingly repeated, a lie that is now absorbed into the national psyche.

Homeless in NZI was writing something on the stupid economics of poverty (lost potential, so lost value, increased costs & anti-social behaviour, less money in the local economy, favouring the colonial corporates over local businesses, loss of democracy & therefore wisdom), and ended up writing about the Smoke and Mirrors deceit we keep hearing.

New Zealand’s economy is a cocaine-fueled rush, on a base without a future – a low wage, low value, low diversity, short value-chain, socially-degrading, environmentally-degrading extractive economy that suits the colonial/corporate model of Cecil Rhodes – take the cheap resources using slave labour, leave the environmental & social costs in the colony, and take the money and multiply it back ‘home’ to a country or a disconnected gated community far far away.

I ended up writing this ….


The rise in child poverty & inequality from 1988 is a direct consequence of the emergence of the Neoliberal agenda imposed on New Zealand since 1984.  The economic negatives are considerable


There are disconnects in New Zealand between the sobering stories of poverty, inequality, housing and child deaths from Third World diseases, and those who stand on podiums in suits claiming we have a ‘strong’ economy.  How can both coexist?  Isn’t an economy there to serve the wellbeing of us all?

These social costs associated with poverty and death are indicative of a number of things.  The economy is clearly not working as it should.  It self-evidently no longer serves us all; it serves the few who are increasingly disconnected, both geographically and psychologically.  Claims of merit rising and the poor choosing their own poverty are arrant nonsense, much like ‘trickle down’.

Most of us have become increasingly subservient servants to the economic beast.  It is

Rhodes - cheap resources & slave labour

Statesman, my arse

also self-evident from the smoke and mirrors and the denials of various problems that the current government does not care.  And all to further a frankly dumb economics of poverty that only serve the interests of the international corporate elite who are emulating a form of latter-day colonisation – cheap resources and slave wages.  Cecil Rhodes will be cheering from his Zimbabwean crypt.

In making these claims of a ‘strong’ economy, the government hopes that people will look away.  It hopes that their cynical – even deceitful – use of smoke and mirrors will work.

There is a danger in that approach.  The right wing propaganda machine of Lynton Crosby has already faltered. People began to laugh at Teresa May’s ‘strong & stable’ political tag line as it was increasingly exposed as empty blather.

And it is empty blather in New Zealand as well.  For instance, what growth we’ve had is due to immigration, house price rises and earthquake rebuilds, while the current direction of our low wage, low value colonial and increasingly corporate-dominated economy continues.  In that context, our economic performance has been worse than

Auckland house speculationordinary.

But on top of that mediocrity have come our social costs, including child mortality.  Some of us are involved in politics because we are determined that we have to change from our vicious cycle of mediocrity.

Similarly, the smoke and mirrors of ‘job growth’ ignore inconvenient definitions.  A one-hour, casual, temporary ‘job’ so common amongst the under-employed ‘precariat’ is markedly different than a permanent full time position.  But the spin-doctors hope that the public will interpret ‘jobs’ as full time equivalents. Meanwhile, under-employment has tripled since 2008, and the precariat grows and grows.


Rhodes - our duty to take it

It is our *duty* to take?

Perhaps the most ludicrous claim is the right’s non-inflation indexed wage growth that takes no account of the massive increase in top salaries and the static or decreased bottom.  On ‘average’, we’re told it’s all fine when it patently is not.

It really is time we looked deeper at where New Zealand’s economy is going.


You cannot look at our extractive increasingly outside corporate-owned and directed economy without hearing the distant echo of Cecil Rhodes. We are heading into a new colonialism.

Rhodes - Annex the stars

While the agent of power has changed, the ideas of superiority, entitlement, taking, exploiting, reducing of land and people to resources, even the ‘duty’ to take, is *exactly* the same.  The mega-corporate mind would annex the stars if it could.  These are the immoral sentiments of the gluttonous psychopath.

Chris Perley


1st September 2017

Chris Perley has a background in the field, in management, policy, consulting and research relating to land use, the environment, provincial economies and communities.  He is an affiliated researcher at Otago University’s Centre for Sustainability.  He is a 2017 Green Party candidate for the Tukituki Electorate.


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7 Responses to The Myth of New Zealand’s Strong Economy

  1. Simon says:

    Wow, what a poorly written, un-balanced load of horse manure, even managed to get a “third world” comment in there lol. You are talking about a country ranking very near the top in every major quality of life index, are you going to ignore that fact in your crazy rant?

  2. cjkperley says:

    Thanks for the feedback. Could you please be more specific. I live around people who aren’t statistics, but I’d love your take on the poverty data we don’t happen to measure.

  3. smith kerry says:

    This was a useful post and I think it is rather easy to see from the other comments as well that this post is well written and useful. I bookmarked this blog a while ago because of the useful content and I am never being disappointed. Keep up the good work.

  4. Rhys Jones says:

    I enjoyed the Rhodes quotes, however suspect that the dim view we take off him expressing the widely-held views of a society at another time will be mirrored by future generations commenting on our society’s enslavement of cattle and the mass murder of indigenous trees to plant commercial crops.

  5. Love your work Chris. Send me an account to organise a little weekly ap into when I can.

  6. bohochick100 says:

    “Statesman my arse” 😂 Hadn’t seen those quotes from Cecil Rhodes before – unbelievable 😬 and I can see the parallels between British (or any) colonialism and the corporate based economy/colonialism. I knew there were parallels but the quotes from Rhodes must be very similar to the thinking of the major corporates.

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