A brief history of Chris Trotter, Waitakere Man, and John Tamihere

2005: John Tamihere interviewed in Investigate Magazine.

INVESTIGATE: What is the most powerful network in the Labour executive?


The Labour Party Wimmins [sic] Division. Whether it’s bagging cops that strangle protestors they should be beating the proverbial out of, or – it’s about an anti-men agenda, that’s what I reckon. It’s about men’s values, men’s communication standards, men’s conduct.

I spoke to the boards and principals association in Wellington, and I showed them a picture of two girls with their fists clenched, standing on top of two young male students. The object of the exercise was to prove that once again the female students had romped home academically against all the boys. If the positions in the photo were reversed, all hell would break loose.

Where else in the world do Amazons rule?

In our constitutional base you could kill the Prime Minister – sure, there’s a deputy prime minister – but in the interregnum the second in charge is the Speaker. The Governor-General. If those three die you go to the Chief Justice, another woman.

I don’t mind front-bums being promoted, but just because they are [women] shouldn’t be the issue. They’ve won that war. It’s just like the Maori – the Maori have won, why don’t they just get on with the bloody job. I think it becomes more grasping.

Other comments include “I’m sick and tired of hearing how many Jews got gassed”.  Tamihere loses his seat in the 2005 election to Dr Pita Sharples and goes on to host a talkback show on Radio Live.

2009: Chris Trotter coins the term “Waitakere Man” in a post urging Labour to return to its working-class roots.

To win in 2008, National had to break Labour’s grip on the mixed metropolitan suburbs.
The voter escorting National to its First Term Ball turned out to be the sort of bloke who spends Saturday afternoon knocking-back a few beers on the deck he’d built himself, and Saturday evening watching footy with his mates on the massive flat-screen plasma-TV he’s still paying-off.
His missus works part-time to help out with the mortgage, and to keep their school-age offspring in cell-phones and computer games.
National’s partner – let’s call him Waitakere Man – has a trade certificate that earns him much more than most university degrees. He’s nothing but contempt for “smart-arse intellectual bastards spouting politically-correct bullshit”.
On racial issues he’s conflicted. Some of his best friends really are Maori – and he usually agrees with the things John Tamihere says on Radio Live.
National was getting two (or more) votes for the price of one. Sometimes Waitakere Man brought with him the votes of his mother, daughters, sisters, aunts and nieces as well. How had Clark forfeited the trust of Waitakere Woman?
What broke their connection with Clark was the anti-smacking legislation. They felt affronted – as if their parenting skills had been weighed in the balance of the Prime Minister’s conscience and found wanting. Clark, who had no children, was telling them how to raise their kids. She seemed to be passing judgement on their whole family – turning them into criminals. They felt betrayed.
Waitakere Woman’s sense of betrayal, combined with the ingrained misogyny and cultural diffidence of Waitakere Man, was what got National onto the dance floor in 2008. Key should read both Rodney Hide’s intransigence on Maori representation, and the recent Referendum’s unequivocal result, as timely reminders of the price of his party’s admission.
When the band begins to play, Waitakere Man and Waitakere Woman must not be left standing.

2010: Chris Trotter revisits “Waitakere Man” in a post criticising the Labour Party for selecting Carmel Sepuloni for the seat of Waitakere.

In making this decision it has not only chosen wrongly, but it has also dealt what may prove to be a fatal blow to the career of one of its more talented MPs, Phil Twyford.
“Waitakere Man/Woman” is the key to Labour’s recovery.
…[quotes previous post on Waitakere Man]…
Carmel Sepuloni’s going to win back those voters?
Yeah, right.

Following a judicial recount, Sepuloni misses out on the seat by nine votes and was not returned to Parliament due to her placing at 24th on the party list.  Phil Twyford returned to Parliament after winning the seat of Te Atatū.

2012:  Chris Trotter identifies John Tamihere as the “avatar” of Waitakere Man.

Mulling over the Labour Party’s decision to re-admit John Tamihere to its ranks, I’m beginning to understand how Dr Frankenstein felt. “Waitakere Man” – the monster I created more than three years ago on the pages of The Independent Business Weekly – has not only gone its own way, it’s acquired a powerful, new, flesh-and-blood political avatar.

Waitakere Man proved troublesome from the moment he emerged from my computer keyboard. Many people believed he was myavatar. They charged me with counselling the Labour Party to embrace this bigoted blowhard and tailor its policies to suit his prejudices. Not true. My intent was only ever to make Labour aware of Waitakere Man’s existence.

It seems that Phil Goff has coincidentally started following Trotter’s advice, but Trotter, ever the voice of wisdom, warns:

When, inevitably, [Waitakere Man] brings his knee up between progressive Labour’s legs, let no one who voted for Mr Tamihere’s re-admission feign either horror or surprise.

August 2013: Chris Trotter theorises Tamihere will run for Waitakere under New Zealand First, and win.

But, if Tamihere (JT) runs, it won’t be in Labour red. Though the party eventually agreed to accept his 2012 membership application, the word in Labour circles is that a Tamihere candidacy in Waitakere would be approved only over the dead bodies of the party’s women’s and LGBTI sector groups.

That the very attitudes and values that produce such an allergic reaction among Labour’s social liberals and identity politicians might also be the attitudes and values of the average Waitakere voter, is as neat a summation of Labour’s dilemma as one is likely to find in the topsy-turvy context of contemporary electoral politics.

By recruiting JT to the NZ First cause and putting him up in Waitakere against both Paula Bennett and whoever Labour chooses (probably Carmel Sepuloni) Peters could grow the overall NZ First Party Vote by as much as 2-3 percent. On election night that could mean a NZ First tally of 8-10 percent – rather than the 6-8 percent it is currently anticipating.

Trotter also refers to Paula Bennett as “oozing BBW appeal”.

5 November 2013:  Following media exposure of the “Roast Busters” rape club, John Tamihere and Willie Jackson bully a rape survivor on their talkback show.  [Post by Giovanni Tiso featuring transcript of the questions asked]

Tell me this, how old are you?

How did your parents consent to you going out as a 14-year-old til 3am in the morning?

So anyway you fibbed, lied, whatever, and went out to the parties –­ did you not know they were up to this mischief?

Well, you know when you were going to parties, were you forced to drink?

Don’t youse [sic] know what these guys are up to?

Yeah but girls shouldn’t be drinking anyway, should they?

6 November 2013: Danyl Mclauchlan posts on the Roast Busters/John Tamihere issue.

There’s a lot of interesting stuff going on in and around this instantly-infamous Radio Live clip …

… Finally, there’s a huge amount of affection for Tamihere amongst the Trotterist factions of the Labour Party. People like Mike Williams and Josie Pagani feel JT’s well-documented pathological contempt for woman would be an electoral asset among blue-collar male voters, and David Shearer gushed that he’d be an amazing Minister for Social Development. The core tenet of Trotterism is that identity politics isn’t important, and if that faction in the party had its way they’d have a welfare spokesman who thinks that young girls who drink alcohol deserve to be gang-raped. So let me say again that Tamihere would be a poor choice for that role, and that, like Shane Jones he is basically un-electable, and that people in the Labour Party should stop promoting these weird, creepy misogynists. 

Chris Trotter responds:

I’d exercise a little caution if I were you, Danyl.

8 November, 2013:  Josie Pagani (whose views on these issues would have to be the subject of a separate post) posts at Pundit on the issue.

I am disgusted with the attitudes of Willie and JT … But I don’t support banning them from radio. The painful, ugly truth about the attitudes of Willie and JT is that they are shared by tens of thousands of men who think women should take responsibility for not being raped.

Willie and JT’s job is to discuss stuff. You don’t fix their faulty attitude by telling the part of our community who think they have a point, that it should not have a voice. You deal with it by argument.

Because where do you end up if you get banned for expression? You end up like the pathological blogger Dimpost, who effectively attributes blame to me for the words and attitudes of Willie & JT.

It goes something like this – I have previously spoken out in support of Willie and JT, as politicians with something to contribute to the community. Therefore, I am responsible for everything JT says (and therefore the inference is that I agree with everything he says).

How perverse do you have to be to implicate a woman in the anti-woman views expressed on radio? What is really happening here is that he is trying to silence me (and others) because he disagrees with me about other political issues. This is where you end up when you try to have Willie and JT removed from the radio – banning people you disagree with, not just those who hold offensive views.

And Chris Trotter responds in comments:

Danyl McLaughlin’s [sic] association of Josie and myself with the behaviour of the Roastbusters and their defenders – based on nothing more substantial than that we share a political analysis with which he disaggrees – marks a new low for his blog. Perhaps you should ask yourself whether Danyl’s compulsion to denounce, denigrate and distress those by whom he feels threatened makes him more, or less, like the Roastbusters he purports to abhor?

The TLDR of all of this:  Chris Trotter has repeatedly made it clear that he thinks there is a “Waitakere Man” archetype of NZ voter who is a narrow-minded white dude who likes, and is even embodied by (except for the whiteness, obviously) John Tamihere.  Chris Trotter has repeatedly urged the Labour Party to appeal to this archetype – though always in every-so-slightly cagey terms like “dance partner”.  Which makes it very convenient, when Tamihere is an abusive fuck to rape victims, for Trotter to distance himself from the whole situation and paint himself as the victim.

You don’t get to constantly grind down identity politics and put your view of working-class (or is it self-employed?)/lower-middle-class men on a pedestal, then complain when the obvious misogyny and bullying behaviour which comes with that archetype explodes into the public view.

Here endeth the lesson.

Homework: consider the idea, posited by The Egonomist and others, that the promotion of a particular type of bigoted redneck thinking is identity politics – and the reason we don’t recognise this is because some identities get to be “normal” and not “other”.


  1. MeToo

    Funny how Josie Pagani seemed all surprised her bright-eyed boy could be so misogynistic, as if his misogyny was new and misogyny and rape culture aren’t connected.

    Interesting too that Willie and JT get classed as representatives of working class men – when I don’t think either of them are. (Working class. I’m pretty sure they’re men!) One is a University educated lawyer who was an MP and has headed a large urban Maori authority, the other is a former MP who headed a large urban Maori authority founded by his Mum. They have their very own radio show and have had tv shows. They have been employers and trustees; one was recently elected to the Waitakere Licensing Board. They have made their careers from holding positions of power and influence. Working class much?

    • QoT

      You definitely have to raise an eyebrow at people like Pagani who apparently never thought that “promoting a socially-conservative privileged-centric worldview” might be slightly connected to “promoting shitty people who say shitty things”.

  2. Daniel Copeland

    Trotter’s latest blog post is about the RBs. More notable for what he doesn’t say (e.g. anything at all about Tamihere) than what he does. He ends up vaguely sort-of-blaming pornography for young men not valuing women as people, instead of pointing the finger at the misogyny inherent in Kiwi-bloke masculinity.

    • QoT

      Well he’s got to lay the ground carefully for a possible swerve into being the One True Preacher of Identity Politics, just in case it’s the next big thing in politics.