ABSTRACT. The ‘politics of kindness’ adopted by New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has come under strong criticism recently. This criticism has largely been in response to the ongoing failure of the current Labour-led Government to take the actions that are perceived necessary against poverty and white supremacist hate. This article aims to contribute to this criticism by arguing that a ‘politics of kindness’ cannot be relied upon to achieve justice for Māori and other marginalised groups within the confines of the settler-colonial state of New Zealand. This argument is made on two grounds. Firstly, the settler-colonial state of New Zealand has misappropriated the rhetoric of ‘kindness’ to perpetuate violence against Māori, Muslims and other marginalised groups. Secondly, a ‘politics of kindness’ individualises systemic problems in New Zealand, which obscures the settler-colonial state’s fundamentally violent and illegitimate nature. Accordingly, this article suggests that a ‘politics of revolution’ be explored to help inspire the bold and radical action required to dismantle the settler-colonial state and build a new Aotearoa in which everyone can live their lives with dignity.

Keywords: kindness; New Zealand; settler-colonial state; poverty; inequality; hate speech

How to cite: Asafo, D. (2021). “‘Kindness’ as Violence in the Settler-Colonial State of New Zealand,” Knowledge Cultures 9(3): 39–53. doi: 10.22381/kc9320213.

Received 13 July 2021 • Received in revised form 1 November 2021
Accepted 4 November 2021 • Available online 1 December 2021

Dylan Asafo
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University of Auckland, New Zealand

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