Saturday, October 06, 2012

Down and out in Remuera

With its multi-million dollar homes and streets full of spotless, late model SUVs, Remuera is no stronghold of the left. It's perhaps unsurprising that John Ansell, a former ad man for both the National and Act parties, felt that the Auckland suburb would be a good place to discuss his ideas about the Treaty of Waitangi and the state of Kiwi politics.

Ansell had planned to use a public meeting at the Remmers Rotary Club on Monday night to test support for a political party that would fight the next general election on a platform of opposition to 'Maori racism'. Ansell thinks that abominations like the Waitangi Tribunal, Maori seats, and the Maori Language Act are making New Zealand an 'apartheid state', and he believes, on the basis of a series of rather mysterious opinion polls, that four-fifths of Kiwis, including many Maori, agree with him.

But the distinguished members of the Remuera Rotary Club don't appear to belong to John Ansell's silent majority. After initially agreeing to host Monday night's meeting, the Rotarians have gotten cold feet, and have put out a statement distancing themselves from Ansell's politics. Ansell is now casting about rather desperately for an alternative venue for his political launch. I'm guessing that he won't be sounding out the Otara Community Centre.

Ansell's inability to find a reliable host in Auckland's most conservative suburb symbolises the decline of his political fortunes. During the 2005 general election campaign he designed a series of high-profile billboards which played on Pakeha fears about Maori nationalist politics, and helped Don Brash lead the National Party to within a whisker of victory. When Brash seized the leadership of the Act Party a few months before last year's election Ansell was at his side, making excited predictions about a forty percent rise in Act's vote and designing a new series of anti-Maori ads. But Brash's campaign was a disaster, as Ansell's broadsides against 'Maorification' provoked scorn and derision even inside Act.

Dismissing Act as a band of 'white cowards', Ansell formed an outfit of his own called the Coastal Coalition to protest against alleged Maori plans to seize New Zealand's beaches. Despite some hard-hitting billboards funded by Louis Crimp, the dendrophilic Invercargill businessman unhappy at Act's insufficiently firm line on Maori 'savages', the Coastal Coalition failed to collect anywhere near enough signatures to force a referendum on its pet topic.

Ansell's new campaign, which he has given the imaginative name Treatygate, has once again been funded generously by Louis Crimp, but appears to be attracting even less support than the Coastal Coalition's quixotic crusade. Even long-time critics of the Treaty of Waitangi like the libertarian blogger and politician Peter Cresswell have distanced themselves from Ansell, criticising his wild generalisations about Maori and his predilection for conspiracy theory. If Ansell does manage to scrape together enough supporters to form a new political party, it is likely to compete with Social Crediters and pot smokers for the wooden spoon at the 2014 general election.

Although some of Ansell's problems come from the inherent silliness of the arguments he retails - a silliness which I tried to outline in this post - he seems also to have become trapped in a sort of vicious circle. As he has gone from campaign to campaign, losing followers and finding it harder and harder to win sympathetic coverage from the media, Ansell has come to rely more on more on a few activists on the far edge of the far right of the political spectrum. These supporters may be energetic and loyal, but they tend to damage Ansell's already badly tarnished brand. Instead of recognising this damage, though, Ansell appears to have become steadily more radicalised, as he has taken on board some of the peculiar ideas of his hardcore followers. The more radicalised Ansell becomes, though, the less palatable he is to the Kiwis whose support he wants to attract.

Martin Doutre exemplifies the problems that Ansell's remaining supporters bring him. For two decades now, Doutre has been advancing the theory that New Zealand was settled thousands of years ago by an advanced  civilisation of peaceful whites. His claims to have discovered ancient cities and Stonehenge-like monuments in remote Northland forests have made him something of a figure of fun amongst trained scholars of this country's past. Doutre's Holocaust denial, admiration for the neo-Nazi pseudo-historian David Irving, and belief that 9/11 was an inside job have not helped his credibility.
Doutre may be a joke to most of us, but he has evidently become a hero to John Ansell. Indeed, Ansell has suggested that one of the aims of the Treatygate campaign is to win popular acceptance for his friend's strange ideas:

Over the past year, I’ve read a lot of Martin’s writing. I’ve prod­ded and poked at him on a few occa­sions when some explan­a­tion didn’t quite gel. And yet he’s always come up trumps. I’ve never failed to be impressed by the depth and breadth and robust­ness of his knowledge. I’m very happy to stand with Mar­tin, just as I was once proud to stand with Roger Douglas. By the time this cam­paign is over, I intend the name of Mar­tin Doutre to be well-known to his coun­try­men, and for all the right reasons.

Another inspiration for Ansell's new campaign is Colin Rawle, the head of the Dunedin branch of the New Zealand Anthrosophical Society and a man with some strong views about religion, race, and Rudolf Steiner. In a series of semi-coherent missives to various Kiwi media outlets over recent years, Rawle has attempted to convert the rest of us to his belief that an unholy alliance of Marxists, Muslims, lesbian feminists, and Maoris is trying to destroy New Zealand, and Western civilisation in general.

John Ansell recently reproduced a particularly paranoid Rawle text on his blog under the title The Oblivion Constitution. For Rawle, the constitution that Bolivia adopted in 2009 is a highly dangerous document, because it gives a certain degree of political autonomy to that country's indigenous Aymara and Quechua peoples. Bolivia is a poor and obscure nation, but Rawle believes it is a sort of twenty-first century Soviet Union, determined to stir up trouble, and perhaps even revolution, around the world.

After complaining about the interest of some Maori activists in the Bolivian constitution, Rawle turns his attention to Africa. He is particularly interested in Rhodesia, which was a British colony until 1965, when the white settlers who constituted about a twentieth of its population declared unilateral independence in protest at plans to give black Africans the vote. For fifteen years Rhodesia's whites maintained their rule, despite international protests and a guerrilla war by blacks.
Rhodesia's white rulers imitated the apartheid system of their ally South Africa, banning blacks and whites from marrying, creating whites-only areas in parks and other public spaces, and barring blacks from many higher-paid jobs. For Colin Rawle, though, white-ruled Rhodesia was a beacon of democracy, and its eventual collapse was a tragedy:

Here is the imagined justification for attempting to terminate the great democratic project which, against the most implacable opposition, has been evolving in Western civilisation since the Greek/Roman age…Nothing it seems, has been learned by the vast social errors, of which Zimbabwe is only one example. The crime of Rhodesia/Zimbabwe, when it was still a success story by any yardstick, was only that it was British/Western-administered and not yet perfect. Therefore, it had to be “liberated” by an alliance of Western Marxist/socialist zealots and racists, who have always been incapable of seeing the potential good in things which are not yet wholly good.
John Ansell has apparently come to share Colin Rawle's belief that Maori activists and their local supporters are part of an international conspiracy against white people. It is bizarre, nevertheless, to see him posting, on his own blog, an article which praises Rhodesian apartheid. Ansell appears to have been lured so far into the fervid fantasy world of the conspiratorial far right that he has forgotten what a mockery Rawle's defence of real apartheid makes of his own rhetoric about opposing imaginary Maori-led 'apartheid' in New Zealand.
As his support base gets smaller Ansell's politics get more extreme. But his wild talk of the 'Maorification' of New Zealand, his extravagant support for a Holocaust denier like Doutre, and his posting of praise for apartheid Rhodesia only shrink his support further, as even right-leaning Kiwis recoil from his politics. He's no longer welcome in Remuera, that long-time stronghold of his old parties National and Act.

Here’s a tip, John: the next time you launch a campaign which claims, however cynically, to be about racial equality, don’t make a Holocaust denier and admirer of David Irving the intellectual frontman for it. Posting articles which praise apartheid Rhodesia on your blog might not be such a good idea, either.

[Posted by Maps/Scott]


Anonymous Anonymous said...

ansell claims to have mass support...but it is always the same 4 or 5 sad obsessives commenting on his blog...backwoods rednecks...

7:18 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


7:55 am  
Blogger B'art Homme said...

Ansell - the deep sadness of a post advertising unemployed bigot

10:26 am  
Blogger Chris Trotter said...

You're very confident, Scott, about Ansell's dwindling level of support.

I'm not so sure.

I look back 8 years to that extraordinary 17 point leap in National's support following the first of Brash's Orewa speeches, and I wonder whether all those voters really have been transformed into relaxed bi-culturalists; or whether they're not simply putting their feelings to one side in deference to John Key's so-far highly successful strategy for securing right-wing political dominance.

If that dominance appeared to be threatened (in other words, if National started plummeting in the polls) are you really so sure that Ansell (now appropriately chaperoned by "respectable" conservatives) wouldn't find a mass audience for his ideas?

And don't you think it's actually more likely that the blokes at Remuera Rotary simply got a call from the PM's office suggesting that now might not be the best time to host Ansell's meeting?

I'd really like to believe that they're all happy, tolerant, bi-culturalists in leafy Remmers, but something tells me that it just ain't so.

11:30 am  
Blogger Giovanni Tiso said...

Chris: I think it's quite clear that there is no appetite for Orewa-style politics within National at the moment. It's true they came close to winning under Brash (largely because Labour panicked after that poll spike in my view), but they also paid a political price for it. Could a dip in the polls cause them to rethink that strategy? It's possible, but they would immediately lose the Maori party and face internal dissent of the kind that led to the Brash leaks - so they'd struggle to stay afloat until the election. But aside form the political calculations of the day, Scott makes a very good point: since losing Brash's mainstream support, Ansell has become more and more unhinged. An association with him at this time would be toxic. Would he tone it down if the Tories found it expedient to rehabilitate him? It's possible, but I personally doubt it. Having had a prolonged discussion with him on his blog, I just don't think he's smart enough. He’s really quite a limited person, and a very unprofessional operator. National is just not going go there. Not when they can still run their softer anti-Treaty line.

11:47 am  
Anonymous Scott said...

I agree with you about the potential for a mass Pakeha movement against the Treaty and biculturalism at some point in the future, Chris. But I don't think Ansell is capable of building such a movement, for a variety of reasons, like his neo-liberal economics, his extraordinary incompetence, and the unsavoury conspiracy theorists he's channeling.

I suspect that a right-wing economic nationalist - the sort of chap you call a 'Red Tory' in your new column - with a brown skin and a silver tongue would fit the bill better. Doesn't Winston Peters have a son?

But the present economic and political conjuncture also militates against a mass anti-Maori movement. Back in 2004 economic anxiety wasn't very high, and there was a space for a more abstract issue like race relations in voters' minds. Now the economy weighs heavily on every mind, and, sadly for would-be racial demagogues, it is not at all clear how Maori can be blamed for the global economic crisis.

I think the Rotarians cancelled Ansell's meeting not because they're supporters of the Mana Party, but because they find his conspiracy theories and wild rhetoric embarrassing. Ansell complains about being persecuted by the left, but he seems to have alienated an awful lot of folks on the right of the political spectrum.

11:53 am  
Anonymous Scott said...

I should mention that it has been Giovanni, Matthew Dentith and the biologist David Winter who have been doing the hard work of analysing and criticising Ansell's nonsense over the last couple of months. While I was drinking kava in Tonga, they were involved in an excruciatingly long discussion thread at Ansell's blog, a thread which Matthew has unpacked over at his place:

My congratulations to Matthew, as well, on his recent receipt of a PhD. Anyone who can write an entire doctoral thesis on conspiracy theorists without becoming paranoid or profoundly depressed, or both, has my admiration.

12:18 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

2:06 pm  
Blogger Giovanni Tiso said...

Heh. I posted that link a few days ago with the caption: These people make John Ansell look like Ranginui Walker.

2:08 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

a lot of ansell's crowd are virulently anti-muslim, including ansell himself. look for anti-halal to be a theme if there anti-maori thing continues to go nowhere. muslims = easier target

2:12 pm  
Blogger Matthew R. X. Dentith said...

Who said I wasn't paranoid? Who? WHO?

But seriously, dealing with Ansell was depressing but my backing away from the conversation there was motivated more out of having to spend time working on my post-doc proposal (now being shopped to a research group near you!) rather than tiring of the argument (although, boy, was it tiring). Now the post-doc is (largely) out of the way, it might be time to get back into the fray.

2:18 pm  
Anonymous A message from John Ansell said...

Remuera Rotary symbol of cowardice!

Unlike Orewa, Remuera Rotary will forever be a symbol of the cowardice of so many New Zealanders!

Of the surrender mentality that has infected the generations born since their fathers and grandfathers went to war for our freedom.

(Including, not least, a battalion of fiercely patriotic Maori.)

I’m packing to fly to Auckland, where I hope someone will find me a venue for Monday night.

A well-known commentator has suggested that I struck too close to the heart of The Beast.

He suspects National Party involvement.


I suspect they just ran scared, like so many.

For a Rotary Club to break an agreement is a serious matter.

Their president, John Burrowes, has the same name as the co-chair of the Constitutional Advisory Panel.

I don’t know if he’s the same guy, but he seems similarly opposed to his country.

He’s been hiding from me, pretending not to be home when I ring.

Their District Governor, Ron Seeto, a pompous, bureaucratic-sounding man, was no better when I appealed to him.

He lectured me in a loud voice with a repeated, “You need to understand our organisation is not political.”

“No,” I replied, “you need to understand: your organisation is not honest. You need to understand what an agreement is.

“Remuera invited me to invite whoever I liked, then pretended they didn’t, then publicly accused me of ambushing their meeting.”

I expect this sort of thing from the Treatygate industry, but not from the solid citizens of New Zealand’s premier suburb.

Now I’m going to keep packing and hope one of you can find a venue for Monday evening.

If you know of a reasonably large room with datashow facilities and decent amplification, please email me on

We might need some security people too.

Hope to see you Monday night!

Share this! Spread the fight for this nation's soul! Expose the lies!

2:47 pm  
Blogger Richard said...

He's like a another (potential) Hitler. He is "mad" and possibly dangerous. He will appeal to a lot of New Zealanders.

Such simplistic stuff gets a lot of support, when things get tough people don't worry about the details (it's more: "am I going to get paid, will I get sacked if I speak out too much? do I get that welfare check etc?). In the "right" circumstances they will just go ahead and slaughter their so -called "comrades".

I wouldn't be too optimistic. As Patrick White wrote once: "Destruction is far more convincing than construction."

A lot of the science that proves Maori were here first and so on is just too difficult for the average working stiff...PhD students have no trouble with it but - paradoxically, if he played his cards right, Ansell might get more (or more than you or he might think right now) support in Otara. But he is not subtle enough. Give him time! Hitler had Goebbels to assist him!

But I still don't think you can eliminate or mock "conspiracy theories".

Conspiracies do happen and there is no way of knowing if 9/11 was actually an inside job. So to theorize it was is quite valid. To conclude it was is probably wrong...and of course I don't go for the "bankers or Jews (or Rothschilds) are behind it all" but my son thinks that is true. I've tried to convince him it is unlikely but a lot of people love certainties - the human brain likes to deal in certainties -therefore they will often buy into "the Jews are behind it all, or "the blacks" or "the Muslims". And there are Muslims (fundamentalists) who are pretty crazy: and also there are Christian fundamentalists of course (maybe THEY were behind 9/11?).

Given the atrocious human rights and warmongering record or the US some people might say "good one!" or "pay back!" to 9/ sometimes crosses my mind in that way...

I think you make msitke in thinking that such thinkng is more common in Renuera. I would say it is not. It is more common among fairly well educated workers - tradesmen etc

There is nothing inherently noble about workers.

It is the kind of thing the US Imperialists have specialized in for years.

You should read the book of the Australian who was in Guantanamo Bay.

"Thoughts of a dry [old] brain..."

6:46 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

John Ansell - NZ's next PM.

Richard - just another middle class self-hating white.

12:23 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

our next PM lol what a bunch of losers

10:11 am  
Anonymous Two questions said...

Why does the Dunedin Steiner School allow Colin Rawle to sit on its board, and why does the Anthroposophical Society allow him to be its Dunedin represenative and to publish his racist and misogynist rants in its magazine, Sphere?

11:52 am  
Blogger Fatal Paradox said...

Apropos of Mr. Rawle, I had the misfortune to encounter him in 2007 when I was running in the Dunedin mayoral election.

After seeing me speak at a public forum during the campaign, he then took it upon himself to stop me in the street at every opportunity to lecture me concerning the alleged evils of Marxism - as well as to start hand-delivering photocopied anthroposophical tracts to my home address. A true fanatic.

12:06 pm  
Anonymous anakereiti said...

I have enjoyed many an argument on the treatygate thread, the enjoyment is starting to pall. I was particularly angry with the "Change the word Muslim or nazi with Maori". I have pointed out that if he is promoting a colour blind state, he is going about it the wrong way. Its like being the only Roman Catholic in a room full of protestants.
Or in my case the only Maori in a room full of pakeha, most of whom condescend or congratulate me , depending on my comments. I dont understand the labelling - achiever or griever...well actually I do understand it, but i still dont get it. If that makes sense. They have no middle ground at all which is the bit that worries me. :)

12:21 pm  
Anonymous Kevin said...

Isn't Anthroposophy the natural home for someone like Colin Rawle.

Rudolf Steiner was a German racist who taught that blacks had intestines in their heads instead of brains.

5:38 pm  
Anonymous Kevin said...

Egs of Steiner's racism

“A soul can be incarnated in any race, but if this soul doesn’t become evil, it doesn’t need to be reincarnated in a descending race, it will reincarnate later in a ascending race.”

“But the people that didn’t develop their id, that was too exposed to the influence of the sun, they were like plants: They produced far too much carbon under their skin – and became black. That is why the negroes are black.”

“It isn’t because of the whims of the Europeans that the Indian population has died out, but because of the Indian population had to acquire those forces that led it to die out.”

“Look at these colours, from the Negro to the Yellow population found in Asia. From those you have bodies which are once again containers of the most different souls, starting with the totally passive negro-soul, completely devoted to the surroundings, the outer physis, to the passive soul’s second level in the different parts of Asia.”

5:43 pm  
Blogger Richard said...

Scott / Maps has (elsewhere on this Blog) pointed out the connections to right wing tendencies in Rudolf Steiner (although I think there are good aspects of say the Steiner Schools. There are also dubious tendencies in Jungian philosophy and in fact any such philosophy or religion, including Buddhism and other world views or Religions.

6:34 pm  
Anonymous Kevin said...

Richard. Steiner’s statements are said to be the norm for their time, and cannot be regarded as particularly noticable or perhaps even controversial. This claim can only convince those who are not familiar with the historical background. Steiner’s quotes were made during the first decade of the 1900′s, before the Nazi era. His wordings on non-European peoples were for their time unusually degrading and offensive, even within the German language area. Steiner belonged to those many who paved the way for Nazism through expressing the idea about the superiority of the “white” race.

7:35 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's some of the rubbish Rawle publishes in the NZ Anthropologists' official journal:

'The demons that inspire P.C. and its historical
brethren know the Christ and the potential of
Christianity only too well, as demons always do. (Luke
4, 41 and Mark 3,11-12). The clear results of their work
in the orthodox denominations, especially in
Protestantism since the 1960s when P.C. gained the
upper-hand, are too obvious to require comment.Sphere • 11
P.C.’s multi-culturalism and diversity campaign,
therefore, is at least two-fold in its purpose. Its first
intent is to overwhelm and neutralise orthodox
Christianity with a plethora of non-Christian
religions. The second is typical of left-wing
utopianism in that it always tries to prematurely
impose social conditions (in this case, forced mass
racial/cultural/tribal/religious integration) which
can only harmoniously develop in the fullness of
time, and in the context of suitable threefold social
structures. In the spirit of the Ahrimanic 666 A.D/
Gondishapur impulse, P.C. tries to drag us
prematurely and disastrously into a future state of
being for which we are unprepared (evil being the
consequence of things that are out of place and/or
out of time).
This then, will be the modern, politically correct
version of past social holocausts. It will not be a
case of the P.C. ‘liberals’ directly causing death and
destruction as was the case with their more
primitive and pragmatically evil communist, nazi,
predecessors. No, the P.C./atheistic/socialist
holocaust will be the consequence of rampant,
pandemic anarchy - the complete, or near
complete, breakdown of civil society.
It is undeniably the initially more spiritual, but
now atheistic Marxist, pseudo-Socialist, leftwing stream, which created and drives P.C. After
all, the very term ‘political correctness’ originated
in the 1930s in Lenin’s communist Russia; and it is
those of a now rapidly diminishing and more
conservative nature who oppose it.'

8:32 pm  
Blogger Marty Mars said...

Kia ora Scott

I just got an email from Michael regarding brief 44-45. It was a surprise indeed and I can't find your email address to thank you. I'm at

I enjoyed this post on ansell - I've relegated him to comedy value only and he's delivering on that big time.

Kia kaha

10:43 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

more commentary on ansell

9:24 am  
Blogger Sanctuary said...

Speaking of Rhodesia and Southern Africa, I noted with curiosity when cruising around trademe a certain "...Rhodesian Services Association Incorporated. We are a New Zealand registered charity (number CC25203) as well as being an Incorporated Society (number 2055431)..." and setup four years ago. They are selling various reproduction, pro-Rhodesia memorabilia. A visit to their websiteindicates they are based in Winston's old stamping ground of Tauranga. Reading their newsletters indicates their views are... umm.. unreconstructed.

I am not saying they are sinister in any way, but it got me thinking about how much influence chicken run whites from Southern Africa may be having on race relations in New Zealand. The North Shore suburbs are full of white South Africans, to the point Brown's Bay is nicknamed the "Orange Free State" by many Aucklanders ( to digress in the interests of being even handed, I also note the suburbs of Mt. Roskill - Mt Albert - Sandringham seem to glory in the nickname of the "Sunni Triangle" with many of my friends - both seem affectionate as anything else). In the last decade have worked closely with a grand total of six South Africans, and I would say two were overtly racist, one was covertly racist, two were not, and one simply wanted a quiet life. 50% of a sample of six retaining pro-apartheid views is not encouraging. I wonder how many of their new Kiwi friends are influenced by them around the BBQ in the terribly white, terribly bland and terribly conservative North Shore bays?

10:23 am  
Anonymous gutscheine zum ausdrucken said...

sehr guter Beitrag

1:06 am  

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