New Zealand Champion dead
August 14, 2005 6:00 PM   Subscribe

Former New Zealand Prime Minister David Lange died over the weekend. His loss will impact our country considerably – he championed our anti-nuclear policy which led to the end of Anzus and a falling out with the US that continues to this day, he spoke at the Oxford Union defending our stance on nuclear weapons and power and he was Prime Minister presiding over the far reaching economic reform that has arguably led to the economic prosperity Kiwi’s are enjoying right now. He was a man larger than life, funny, friendly and caring and his passing is being felt all over Godzone.
posted by Samuel Farrow (25 comments total)

Lange's time as Prime Minister made up the portion of my childhood when I was starting to learn about politics. I thought that all politicians were as witty and smart as him. If only.
posted by gaspode at 6:16 PM on August 14, 2005

Anzus link no worky. here is one for people like me who did not know what it was.
posted by wakko at 6:16 PM on August 14, 2005


Godzone is a wonderful country. I was lucky enough to be there for a few months as a child. Lange was a fine human being.
posted by gesamtkunstwerk at 6:20 PM on August 14, 2005

posted by WaterSprite at 6:38 PM on August 14, 2005

posted by strawberryviagra at 6:55 PM on August 14, 2005

posted by Soulfather at 7:17 PM on August 14, 2005


(though it's ANZUS, it's an acronym not a word. Just like it's ANZAC).
posted by wilful at 8:01 PM on August 14, 2005


May New Zealand always have the enlightened leadership he provided.
posted by mk1gti at 8:21 PM on August 14, 2005

New Zealand would be a great place to retire if you had a lot of money - loads of space, cheap real estate, good health services, beautiful scenery but it is only barely clinging to its status as a first world country now. It is considered by the OECD as a "low middle income" country ranking below Spain and Israel and not too far above Slovenia and Greece. It ranks well below Australia, its nearest neighbour. It missed the compulsory superannuation boat and is going to have a huge pension burden in the next 20 or so years. Last but not least it has a chronic brain drain problem.

It's all very well to bravely stick your head in the sand but just as the US administration warned Lange's government at the time, failure to contribute to Western defence efforts, ideologically sound or otherwise, "will not be without cost".
posted by DirtyCreature at 9:47 PM on August 14, 2005


It took a big man to overcome the mess left by "piggy" Muldoon. If gaspode's comment were true, I would probably still be living there, along with the hundreds of thousands of others who fled the best country in the world to escape the politically-generated madness.
posted by dg at 9:58 PM on August 14, 2005

When I was growing up in NZ (part-time, at least), I had the farmers' perspective. Lange was an "idiot" and a "buffoon." A lot of folks where I lived made fun of him because he was fat.

Later, I figured out that wasn't the whole story.

In other news, I can't believe Paul Holmes is still around (though apparently his show was cancelled recently?).
posted by socratic at 10:12 PM on August 14, 2005


Well, DirtyCreature's comments aside I think there are a lot of folks in the world who came to greatly admire both NZ's stance on nuclear issues and David Lange's erudite leadership. It may not generate jobs but it is a benchmark of sorts for ideological principles winning out over pragmatic politics. That too is an admirable position for a modern government to take.
posted by peacay at 11:30 PM on August 14, 2005

Dirtycreature - you are too harsh about NZ - I know what you are saying, but it has changed - promise.

Having left myself for the bright lights and grey skies of London for five years have this year returned home and it is better.

Socratic - Paul has left the building or at least the tv screen but John Campbell has captured the hearts and minds of the youth now.

And I agree with peacay - who the hell says "yes please" to a world with nuclear weapons - today is VJ day and I bet the survivors of atomics in those two towns would agree.
posted by Samuel Farrow at 11:37 PM on August 14, 2005

DirtyCreature, the looming pension burden is what the current finance minister Michael Cullen's superannuation fund is designed to prevent. The brain drain is inevitable, given that many career optiosn don't exist in an isolated country of 4 million people. It's the price you pay for first world amenities in a low-population density country.

failure to contribute to Western defence efforts, ideoogically sound or otherwise, "will not be without cost".

Cost? What cost? An inability to prevent the Yanks from unfairly subsidising their farmers, true. But I think so far the costs of a more principled foreign policy (not that it's that principled anyway) are costs we seem willing and able to bear.

And of course we do contribute through UN peacekeeping missions etc. What we don't do is plug nicely into an american-led force any more. Can't say I'm sorry at this particular point in time.

Lange had many faults and flaws. We suffered from his insecurity and inconstancy just as he did. But a decent human being for all that, and an outstanding New Zealander.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 12:36 AM on August 15, 2005 [1 favorite]

Lange will always have my respect for leading NZ's stand on WMD's. Good on him.
posted by nomis at 12:39 AM on August 15, 2005 [1 favorite]

posted by Foaf at 12:51 AM on August 15, 2005

Concerning brain drain, the funny thing about Kiwis is that they always seem to sneak in the fact that they are Kiwis, no matter where they're working. You Kiwis are some enterprising, clever people.

Never solved the gorse problem though, huh? :)
posted by socratic at 1:29 AM on August 15, 2005

NZ has a current financial surplus and is already preparing, as a country, for the pension debt of the future -- it's the Cullen Fund, that joe's_spleen describes above, which is presently outperforming any private superannuation schemes -- something the US government is not doing, relying heavily on 401Ks and the like, which not all can afford.

The OECD has also reported that NZ is growing economically more rapidly than Australia and our growth exceeds that of the OECD. The GDP per capita declined until the '90s but is now on the way up. Overall in 10-20 years we will be well above the OECD average. Unemployment is consistently low and has been since the 1980s, although our labour force is shrinking.

socratic, I live in the suburbs and while out walking the other day I passed a house whose front hedge was unpruned gorse. Insanity!!
posted by tracicle at 2:08 AM on August 15, 2005

A great man, and a great loss. Plenty of us were looking enviously across the Tasman when Lange was your PM.
posted by rory at 4:16 AM on August 15, 2005 [1 favorite]

Whatever his flaws (and none of us is perfect), David Lange has come to symbolise for me all the things that make me proud to be a New Zealander. Most particulary his establishment of our country as an independant nation on the interational stage, one intent on peacekeeping rather than war-mongering. Rest in peace, David. You will be sorely missed, but your spirit lives on.
posted by MadOwl at 7:16 AM on August 15, 2005 [1 favorite]

I spent some time on South Island a few years back. If I had a job offer I'd move to NZ in a heartbeat. I have always admired NZ as a whole, government et al. I realize there are issue, all countries have them, but the place felt good.

. on Lange's passing, sounds a bit like Pierre Trudeau, the man of my country while growing up
posted by edgeways at 11:51 AM on August 15, 2005 [1 favorite]

It's all very well to bravely stick your head in the sand

Hmmm. No WMDs there. Maybe Iran, then.
posted by Sparx at 2:20 PM on August 15, 2005


I was away at a friend's beach place all weekend - no TV, no papers, so of course the first call I got on Monday morning was Joe Public asking why all flags were at half-mast. I quickly shunted him to '0' (for Operator or Oubliette, I think) and was a bit sheepish when I picked up the paper.

There is a condolences/memorial book for signing at Parliament right now, anyone can drop in and leave some thoughts there.
posted by Catch at 11:35 PM on August 15, 2005 [1 favorite]

I spent some time on South Island

Kolloquial Kiwi note: For some reason we say "in the South Island", rather than "on South Island". We don't say "go figure", but if we did, I'd say it.
posted by TiredStarling at 8:05 AM on August 16, 2005 [1 favorite]

As someone who has spent significant time in different enough places I already mix my saying, so if I ever end up in godzone I'm sure people will make fun of me.
posted by edgeways at 11:02 AM on August 16, 2005 [1 favorite]

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