On the face of it, the link might not be obvious. What could a precocious 12-year-old ranting at war protesters have in common with Winston Peters taking a crack at immigrant newspaper reporters?

It's not simply that both things happened in the same week or that both involve NZ First (the child's father is the party's chief of staff).

The link is both are signs of rising nationalism in New Zealand.

Getting a bit chest puffy about your country isn't necessarily a bad thing.


It has taken a fair bit of work and about four decades for us to move on from being little Brits. Nowadays, we beam with pride over Fred Dagg, our anti-nuclear stance, our refusal to join the 2003 invasion of Iraq and New Zealand's ability to consistently punch above its weight.

It's a sign of our rising pride that more and more of us drag ourselves out of bed before dawn every Anzac Day to remember Kiwis who fought and died in war.

An impressive crowd of 6000 at the Dawn Service in Auckland in 1957 had grown to 30,000 by 2015.

But sometimes our pride can turn us into nothing more than a gang. A gang that demands conformity: sounding the same, looking the same, acting the same.

I'd lay the blame for the 12-year-old's rant squarely at the feet of nationalism.

Young James' point was it was "inappropriate" for protesters to draw attention to Afghan civilian deaths on Anzac Day.

It's not fair to pick apart James' argument, given he's a kid, but his dad summed it up pretty nicely. David Broome, NZ First's chief of staff, accused the protesters of "trying to hijack a special ceremony for New Zealanders".

There's your first problem with nationalism: it shuts down dissenting views by demanding uniformity.

Actually, some New Zealanders don't participate in Anzac Day because they hate the way the war broke their grandfathers and they don't want that war glorified.

They welcome protest on Anzac Day to remind us never to go back to war.

The day after Anzac Day, Winston Peters doubled down on his immigrant-bashing by criticising a Herald story like this: "New Zealand Herald propaganda written by two Asian immigrant reporters ... is completely wrong."

Actually, some New Zealanders don't participate in Anzac Day because they hate the way the war broke their grandfathers.


It's probably not fair to pick apart Winston's argument given he must have taken a hefty knock to the head moments before uttering the sentence.

But there's your second problem with nationalism: excluding people who don't meet our ridiculous criteria for belonging to the gang, whether that be race, time spent in New Zealand or Kiwi-sounding surnames.

To be fair, the nationalism we're seeing is at low levels and is part of a global phenomenon that contributed to Brexit, Donald Trump and the rise of the far right in Europe.

But it has been here in New Zealand for a while. It's the reason Peters' poll numbers have risen with his immigrant-bashing, it's the reason Labour had a crack at property owners with Asian-sounding names, and it's the reason authorities tried to shut down criticism of a controversial SAS raid in Afghanistan by appealing to our fear the world might form a bad opinion of our soldiers.

We should know better than to get caught up in this fervour.

We are being stung by a rise in exactly the same sentiment in Australia. Aussie nationalism is causing the crackdown on Kiwis. That's why friends and family who moved across the ditch and pay taxes are being denied citizenship and access to unemployment and disability cover.

If you think the way Aussies are treating Kiwis is unfair, don't get sucked into doing the same thing here.