“New Zealand, your culture is toxic” The Passionless People and Frowning Zombies



New Zealand’s culture is toxic

We spotted this thread on reddit today on the r/New Zealand sub.Take a read

“I just got back from living in Chile for a long time and this is all I have to say about New Zealanders.

You’re a cold, hostile, passionless(excluding sport), unwelcoming, complacent, paranoid, fickle people.

I have never met a people so against sharing and passion. I think you call it “tall poppy syndrome” or something like that?

Mañosos culiaos.

(and your accent is terrible)


Edit: This is what happens when you are constantly told you’re perfect and someone tells you otherwise.”

Perhaps the author is upset over the Maunka dairy calf killers imposing NZ dairying practices in his country?

Interestingly, a whole book has been written about New Zealander’s lack of emotion. Kiwi journalist Gordon William McLauchlan’s book The Passionless People probably can’t be bought, or borrowed in New Zealand. Its one of those restricted texts that Kiwis aren’t supposed to read in case it inflames a passion they don’t know how to handle. Its sequel The Passionless People Revisited (2012)  is available on Kindle for around $8.

When The Passionless People – an examination of New Zealand society and its people – was first published in 1976 it was a sensation, selling tens of thousands of copies. Its title became part of the language. More than thirty years on — have New Zealanders changed?

The Passionless People Revisited is Gordon McLauchlan at his most outspoken: “Thirty-five years ago in The Passionless People I called New Zealanders ‘Smiling Zombies’ – the living dead but happy enough about it, even smug. Then, we were still relatively affluent. But now, we are ‘Frowning Zombies’, still the living dead but impotently aware we have been drifting towards social and economic disaster for decades.”

“A major difference between 1976 and now is we have leased our home and are paying rent and homage to outsiders. We have become an economic colony, mainly of Australia.”

McLauchlan covers a broad spectrum of cultural, social and political issues in this witty, insightful and no-holds-barred look at New Zealand today.

“We live in a broken country and no one wants to fix it”


Here’s the chapter list from The Passionless People – New Zealanders in the 1970s (Amazon link), first published in 1976 and effectively banned in New Zealand ever since. (Hat tip to Expatexposed for the quotes) Why not try asking for it in your local NZ library, if you dare?

1 – The Smiling Zombie.
2 – The Sterile society
3 – Passionless proceedings
4 – God and MANZ
5 – The passionless pretence
6 – The passionless sexes
7 – The passionless Polynesians
8 – Passionless piss-up
9 – Directions

The Smiling Zombie.

New Zealanders are meandering through the 1970s reciting an elaborate mythology that we are a benevolent and contented people in a green and sunlit land.We are weaving with cold and tremulous hands the delusion that we are also bold and large-minded. But there is a tic running up the side of our faces (Not quite stilled by the booze and drugs which make our blood run thin) because the reality is that we are ensnared in a monstrous irony. Here in beautiful benign and uncrowded country…we are unhappy with intransitive anger…We suffer by the hundreds of thousands from depression , and from the indefinable anxiety the Germans called angst.”

“The friendly NZer of the tourist brochure does exist because it is the type of relationship with which we feel at home-temporary and superficial…friendly is too strong a word, we should substitute ‘the smiling zombie'”

Page 8

The Englishman prides himself on his sense of humor and keeps telling the rest of the world: “We are the only people who have this gift of laughing about themselves.”

“Rubbish” retorts the New Zealander, “We also have this gift of being able to laugh at you”

Page 10

The New Zealander is as racist as the South African, except that he is decently hypocritical about it, and has therefore quietly sorted out the rest of the world. for example he knows that:

  •   Americans are fun but no substitute to real people
  •   Pakistanis are all right, if they know their place which most of them think is in England
  •   Fiji has too many Indians and not enough chiefs
  •   Jesus was Jewish mainly because there were no New Zealanders living round the Sea of Galilee at the time.
  • New Zealanders are rational but not reasonable.

The Sterile Society
“Eighty-six percent of NZers over twelve years old take alcohol.
Alcohol and drugs are valuable and important in themselves, but in NZ they are almost never used to heighten sensibilities but to provide the 1984 suppression of discontent and preserve the state of now. This is easily achieved in New Zealand because physicians are at the head of the Establishment, powerfully motivated to keep society the way it is and thus to preserve their highly privileged position”

and the book ends with

“Why can’t we accept that in the field of human relations our society has failed? The acceptance would help us to attack the problem in the schools.”

We’ll be bringing you more from the book in later articles. For now let’s get back to the rest of the reddit thread. Here’s the next comment.

Sorry, this is a bit all over the place, writing in a rush…

As someone who’d immigrated from Auckland from Toronto, Canada (with European parents) I kind of get where this rant in coming from. I think for New Zealand, there’s a bit of a complacency problem with people. If things are adequate, why bother to try and improve them.

I think the lack of European influence, basically everyone other than the English, is the problem. I’ll take Italians because that’s my background (parents are from Italy). If you go to an Italian neighbourhood in Toronto, for the most part all the houses are well kept. Lawns are taken care of, there’s a pride in one’s home. This is not because of income, although obviously people with more money will go further with things, and put taste/style aside because that’s a different beast. But even a low-income family will have a sense to care for what they have and try to makes things as best as they can be. I think this is because Italian’s (and I would apply this to other mainland-European people) are kind of competitive dicks at heart. It also has something to do with when most Italians immigrated to Canada, and the influence of WWII and trying to keep a connecting to their homeland. But to keep things simple, let’s just say they want to best their neighbours and show off how well they are doing. It’s a bad character flaw but everyone’s lawns look good. Joking aside, it’s a silly flaw that transformed into just the way things are. There’s an expectation, a standard people expect and strive for. That doesn’t sense of pride or expecting things to be at a certain level doesn’t exist here in NZ, not in the same way. Not in the way that pushes things to always be at their best and to get better.

When Lorde won her Grammys, it sounded like the media was saying “look, she found success despite being from NZ” and no real attention was given to her talent and that’s a shitty attitude. Stop thinking like a small country and just accepting things. Strive for better. Try and make your mark on the world stage outside of Lord of the Rings and Peter Jackson. Offer something to the world that make people pay attention. The America’s Cup is a good example. Why was their not more attention and praise given the the engineers that built those boats? That’s a big deal, a bigger deal than winning the actual race IMO. That’s where the pride should come in, not in replaying the trophy ceremony from the 2011 Rugby World Cup.

I think NZ really has potential but it needs to get over it’s insecurities and decide what role the country wants to play on the world stage. Rugby is nice, but that’s not going to get you credibility as a government trying to work out deals or have influence that could help the country. Why is NZ great? You need to tell people, not have them tell you.

Just to be clear, I do like living in NZ. My life in Canada wasn’t bad, so this was more about new experience and getting away from the cold! I’ve been here two years and my wife and I appreciate being able to live here. I just say these things not to be mean or rude, but valid criticisms. No place if perfect, no one is perfect. If you’re a kiwi, I hope I didn’t offend you. Just trying to sort of say I understand where this guy is coming from, or what he means.”

Then, as if to prove the OP correct, a fire-fight ensued and no prisoners were taken. Predictable, toxic Kiwis? you may well reach that conclusion.

Kiwi Toxicity. Offensive towards Women

Here’s a screen shot of part of the thread. The OP is highlighted in blue. Advisory: some may consider the last remark offensive and derogatory towards women.


Read the rest here http://www.reddit.com/r/newzealand/comments/1x286b/new_zealand_your_culture_is_toxic/

12 thoughts on ““New Zealand, your culture is toxic” The Passionless People and Frowning Zombies

  1. “A major difference between 1976 and now is we have leased our home and are paying rent and homage to outsiders. We have become an economic colony, mainly of Australia.”

    Mostly true except it’s China not Australia.

  2. The greatest surprise for me was the absolute inability to see that by acknowledging a problem you can improve the issue. Housing is the perfect example; they live in moldy, freezing cardboard boxes but instead of considering insulating them the attitude is that there is no problem because our climate is so temperate.

    • Exactly.

      The ‘problem’ is transferred to the individual by making him responsible through his inability to cope with it.

      Victim blaming is ingrained in the culture of New Zealand – as was evidenced by the initial handling of the Roast Busters investigation, John Key’s ‘apologies’ to the people who took offence at his gay red shirt comments, and other examples which our readers may wish to tell us about.

  3. Are you looking for the answer to this peculiar problem?

    Ha-ha, I am reading this thread and everyone here, the strongest nations on the planet, winge about how bad NZ is, yet they won’t pack their bags and go home.

    Why are kiwis behaving this way?

    The answer is simple: NZ is a multi-culti melting pot where every ethnicity, indigenous culture and habits turn into a rabbit stew. This is the policy of this country to make “one” out of so many human strands that migrate here.

    Yes, it may be “shocking”, yes it may be particularly “unpleasant” if you bear a great amount of love for your own heritage and culture, but then if you do, why not live back home?

    It is an isolated archipelago, military intervention to control the social mess here would be difficult and the nearest landmass – Australia is three hours to fly to.

    So, understandibly, the last thing our government and society want is a highly secular land, torn apart and ethnically divided into hundreds clusters ministates.

    You complain about NZ, but look at how the rest of our beautiful world lives.

    What, you want a snapshot of the world wide ethnic sh*t here?

    If you come to live with others who are as different and unique as you are – PREPARE TO SACRIFICE!

  4. I thought this book was a parody or comedic book until I started reading it. Then I was like “oh my God, this is the real NZ”. It can be found in a lot of second hand bookshops.
    The only things kiwis like others to be passionate about are rugby, drinking, car racing. Very few things that are vaguely intellectual or cultural get mainstream support.

    Yes in some of the bigger cities you will find more open minded people but there is always that sense of “tone it down a bit, who do you think you are with your fancy ideas?”. Open hostility to people who dislike sport or who profess interest in(let alone passion for) the arts is not uncommon.

    We now live in Oz and there is definitely a sense of pride in people here, like they would actually be happy you succeeded not looking for reasons why you will fail or reason why your success is not deserved/genuine etc.

    Wow the responses on that Redditt thread are just so offensive. Are people unable to respond rationally to any criticism of NZ at all?

  5. Complaints by Kiwis that NZ has become an ‘economic colony’ of Oz are particularly irritating, what would their living standards be without Australian investment? Perhaps they would prefer economic autarky like North Korea. The CER gives them access to the larger Australian market, even NZ TV programs are classified as ‘Australian’ in our market.

    Of course there are negative aspects to foreign investment, but let’s get some perspective, even the mighty USA once depended on foreign capital.

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