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TOP 30 OF 2016 - 2. Is New Plymouth the new racism capital of New Zealand?

First published on Saturday the 7th of May, 2016, this piece comes in at number 2 in the top 30 most read Villainesse stories of 2016.

New Plymouth. If you’re not from New Zealand, we’ll forgive you for having never heard of it. Found on the west coast of the North Island, the provincial city is famous for its coastal walkway, nearby Mount Taranaki and now, its simmering racism.

This week, that racism was thrown into the national spotlight, with the news that current Mayor Andrew Judd will not seek re-election. Why? It may have something to do with being abused at the Santa Parade, or perhaps the revolting experience of being spat at in the supermarket in front of his children by an anti-Māori racist.

Taranaki. Like no other, indeed.

I can’t say I’ve ever heard somebody describe himself as a “recovering racist”. Such unflinching self-knowledge is rare. Yet Andrew Judd used exactly those terms on Thursday night’s Seven Sharp, revealing his personal journey from ignorance to understanding.

He started out, by his own admission, at a place where he recalled thinking, ‘we’re paying them out, what’s wrong with them?’, ‘they’re the ones with the problem’ and even, ‘hang, Māoris’. Then he read a Treaty settlement and something shifted. He went on to read Robert and Joanna Consedines’ Healing Our History and found himself setting off down a path of education and enlightenment.

Gradually, he became a staunch Māori advocate, calling for the establishment of a Māori ward on the New Plymouth Council – a move that passed, but was then repealed after Grey Power forced a public referendum. It says rather a lot about the population’s understanding (or lack thereof) of Māori issues that the referendum resulted in 83 per cent of the population opposing Māori representation.

In the face of continued abuse at the hands of irate racists, Judd has decided not to stand for re-election. New Plymouth should be deeply ashamed.

Mike Hosking, editorialising with abandon after Judd’s Seven Sharp appearance, branded him as “completely out of touch with middle New Zealand.” If one were so inclined, however, one could likely guess which side of history Hosking and 83 per cent of the New Plymouth population will end up on.

Here’s hoping there will be more mayors like Andrew Judd. And that New Plymouth can take stock of its newfound national infamy and sort its shit out.


  • New Plymouth /
  • Andrew Judd /
  • Maori /
  • Racism /
  • Mike Hosking /
  • Seven Sharp /
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Comments ( 6 )

  • WA-sa-bee's picture

    WA-sa-bee - Sun, 2016-05-08 12:11

    Are the comments in this blog post based on generalisations of what New Plymouth is like. To call New Plymouth the racist capital, or to imply that it is , is to make a generalisation. Aren't generalisations the basis of racism, sexism and other isms. Not everyone in New Plymouth is like this. The 83% is only of only the 45% that bothered to vote, well less than half the community. But the good people of New Plymouth are been painted in broad strokes now as racist by posts like this. If Mike Hoskings represents "middle New Zealand" then count me out of that catergory. i hope this starts conversations and discussions about race, and helps us move forward to the future.
  • Username's picture

    Username - Sun, 2016-05-08 16:53

    I'm beginning to believe this entire website is one big troll.
  • Far away's picture

    Far away - Sun, 2016-05-15 09:03

    The good people of New Plymouth need to be speaking up. It may not be their fault, but where's the support for Judd coming from? Seems like it's from outside his own community, and that lack of support inside was the whole tragic point of this story. It would be great to hear more about the views of the 55% who didn't vote.
  • emjaynz's picture

    emjaynz - Sat, 2016-08-27 12:54

    You know what? Being accused of racism isn't actually as bad as being racist. If you start clutching your pearls at the thought of being considered racist, maybe it's time to take a step back and instead investigate why. Perhaps the "good people of New Plymouth" should be less worried about their image, and more worried about their actions.
  • Quinessa Sullivan's picture

    Quinessa Sullivan - Sat, 2016-08-13 13:05

    I was born and raised in New Plymouth. I am Maori. The racism I experienced growing up brutalised me and I am nearly 40 and I am still trying to heal what happened to me. I went back recently and it hasn't changed, not much. Not enough. I moved away as a teenager but have realised what it means to be kaitiaki and that the land we have left back home needs our care. But it triggers so many things. Heres hoping all my years of therapy will prove its worth. Home is still an unsafe city. Like no other.
  • emjaynz's picture

    emjaynz - Sat, 2016-08-27 12:55

    I'm sorry that you've experienced such trauma, and I hope that things change. Your words here are an inspiration, thank you.
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