Melissa O’Hagan 

It probably doesn’t matter what Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern does from here on in. Her legacy, in many minds, is already in place. The division of a nation.

We are witnessing a disunion of our fellow citizens in a way we’ve never seen before: well in my lifetime anyway, I’m only in my forties. It wasn’t so many years ago that although there might be disagreement on an issue, there was still a semblance of respect for each other’s views. That has well and truly gone out the window in Ardern’s New Zealand.

The venom, and – I’m just going to say it – hatred on display is not only shocking but extremely sad. It’s out of hand.

We used to think in trying times, New Zealanders would come together and forget minor irritations about left and right notions. But now that concept is gone.

Most of you would have seen this division playing out somewhere in your life. Some of you will have experienced it personally. Perhaps within your own circle of friends, or disappointingly, your family. You may think I’m talking about our current situation with lockdowns and vaccinations, and I am, but not only this. How about the smouldering disunity between Maori and so-called ‘non-Maori’; homeowners and renters; property owners and tenants; business owners and employees; beneficiaries and workers; firearm owners and police; farmers and environmentalists; progressives and conservatives? The list goes on.

Where does this division come from and why is it so strong right now, you may ask? It’s because of one thing: politicisation.

The Ardern government has deliberately politicised every aspect of our lives. How we live, how we work, who is allowed an opinion, who isn’t, what you can and can’t do, when you can do it. Who pays, who benefits, who controls our water and land, and even who can have a say in our supposed democratic system. 

The government has done nothing but stoke the flames of identity politics and New Zealand is like a bad crème brulee: all kinds of split! By politicising every space New Zealanders occupy, the government ends up controlling that space. And that, my friends, is what it’s all about.

Division leads to control, and that is where we are at. A country where citizens are at each other’s throats. A terribly sad, and in my opinion, possibly the worst consequence of this increasingly authoritarian government which is hell-bent on destroying what most of us remember as a fair, friendly, and united country.

It’s hard to know if we can return to that state of fairness and unity; it seems like an unattainable goal right now. But it is my wish that we do, and I am certain many good people of this beautiful country wish for that too.

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A Legacy Not to Be Proud of
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