Capitalism Bad, Tree Pretty has a list of the ten worst New Zealanders. In chronological order, they are:
- Edward Gibbon Wakefield, whose plan for a "better Britain" included mechanisms - a "sufficient price" for land and an oversupply of workers - to ensure that the poverty and subjugation of the British class system (the very thing people were coming here to escape) was replicated.
- John Bryce: war criminal and Native Affairs Minister who commanded the troops at Parihaka.
- Robert Logan, first Administrator of New Zealand occupied Samoa. In addition to his racist policies as administrator (he annulled all marriages between Samoans and Chinese indentured labourers and banned cohabitation, or even members of the different races entering one another's houses, in order to keep the Samoan race "pure"), he also allowed 20% of the Samoan population to die in the 1918 Influenza pandemic. His attitude of neglect on the latter - summed up in his comment "I do not care if they are going to die. Let them die and go to hell" - simply beggars belief.
- Those who made Gallipoli a myth, for glorifying a pointless slaughter in the name of a stupid, inbred criminal aristocracy on the other side of the world. The dead deserve our pity and our respect - but the "cause" and the war they died in deserves our utter contempt.
- The 1937 McMillan inquiry, which supported the continued criminalisation of abortion and instead urged women to be "less selfish" and breed for the glory of New Zealand and to avoid "race suicide".
- Peter Fraser, Prime Minister and hypocrite. Having gone to jail for sedition for opposing conscription in the First World War, he then turned around and jailed conscientious objectors during the second.
- Fintan Patrick Walsh, who betrayed the Waterside Workers Union and supported the government during the 1951 waterfront strike.
- Robert Muldoon. Left wingers hate him for his authoritarian, his divisive politics, and his support for racism at home and abroad. Right wingers hate him for being a "socialist". The only person who still loves him seems to be Winston Peters.
- David Lange, as representative of the Revolution, and for dodging responsibility for it.
- Names Suppressed, the four men currently appealing their conviction for gang-rape (representative of others).
That's a pretty compelling list, though a little constrained by a desire to be fair to all eras. I've been considering a similar post for a while, and had been thinking of the following:
- James Prendergast, for his infamous ruling in Wi Parata v Bishop of Wellington that the Treaty of Waitangi was a "simple nullity" and that a contract with "savages" could not possibly be binding. Quite apart from being legally incorrect, this precedent was used to assist in the systematic dispossession of the Maori people. It has only recently been overturned in law (Ngati Apa vs Attorney-General is hopefully the final nail in the coffin), but it is still hanging around like a bad smell in the political consciousness of far too many National Party politicians.
- Robert Semple in the place of Peter Fraser. Like Fraser, he had been jailed for sedition for opposing conscription in the First World War. During the Second, he didn't just support conscription: he was Minister of National Service, and drew the marble for the first conscription ballot (I have a photo somewhere...)
- William Massey, Prime Minister from 1912 to 1925. He used special constables ("Massey's Cossacks") to break the 1913 waterfront strike, had practically the entire leadership of the Labour Party jailed for sedition during World War One (and then delayed the elections anyway, just in case he didn't win), ensured the passage of the War Regulations Continuance Act 1920 which allowed him to continue wartime censorship and the persecution of communists (plus the odd Catholic Bishop), and (last but not least) gave us the flu because he was too important to wait in quarantine. Over 8000 people died as a result, leading to him being memorialised in a children's song: "Big Bill Massey brought the 'flu, parlez vous...".
- Roger Douglas and Ruth Richardson. Lets not beat about the bush: the amount of suffering these two caused New Zealand was criminal. They gave us mass unemployment, gross inequality, lower wages, and cuts to government health and education services just when people needed them. Richardson was crueller with her benefit cuts, but Douglas started it all. Their names should be vilified to prevent the memory from fading.
As for who I'd drop, I'd go for Lange, Fraser (in favour of Semple, though its much of a muchness), "Names Suppressed", and probably the McMillan inquiry (I juggled the latter with the glorifiers of WWI, who include Massey, but I'm surprised by how strongly I feel about that pointless waste of life).