ABSTRACT. This paper considers two questions. The first is the extent to which recent kindness narratives in Aotearoa New Zealand have been matched by political choices and actions which will build a kinder New Zealand. I investigate how kindness has been practised in tangible ways since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020 and the ways in which public sentiment has become more or less kind. The second question concerns how New Zealanders might build a ‘politics of kindness’ into their communities and society. In addressing this second question, a more theoretical approach is taken, which draws on the work of moral philosophers Alasdair McIntyre and Martha Nussbaum and the ideas offered in virtue ethics. This part of the paper is not intended to be an essay in moral philosophy but rather an attempt to inject an alternate moral tradition into New Zealand’s political and policy discourse.

Keywords: kindness; Ardern; New Zealand government; welfare; virtue ethics; political discourse

How to cite: Johnson, A., (2021). “The Politics and Policies of Kindness in Aotearoa New Zealand,” Knowledge Cultures 9(3): 76–89. doi: 10.22381/kc9320215.

Received 31 August 2021 • Received in revised form 2 November 2021
Accepted 22 November 2021 • Available online 1 December 2021

Alan Johnson
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Child Poverty Action Group, Aotearoa New Zealand

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