It's almost as if we're willing it to happen. As if we want the anti-establishment fever to reach New Zealand.

After Brexit mid-last year we started searching for signs. The election of Donald Trump doubled our efforts. The rise of Jeremy Corbyn gave us FOMO. Surely, New Zealand is dysfunctional enough to also suffer a surprise election result.

And finally we're told we have the proof we've all been waiting for. Two polls reveal we are unhappy people.

An Ipsos poll out this week shows 56 per cent of Kiwis don't think politicians care, 64 per cent feel the economy is rigged in favour of the rich and powerful. Half of us want a strong leader even if that leader breaks the rules.


A Roy Morgan poll days earlier shows money weighing heavily on our minds. Half of us are either worried about the economy or about housing.

That, we're told, is the start of it. The polls unmask our latent frustration at The System. They prove we're a ready audience just waiting for an anti-establishment figure to promise to Make New Zealand Great Again.

But it doesn't prove that at all.

Neither poll proves this will be our election of discontent. The longer we scratch around for signs of our unhappiness, the more obvious it becomes our unhappiness isn't potent enough.

Sure, the polls show we're a bit worried - and that will grow the longer National insists on taking nothing but baby steps in any direction - but being a bit worried is not what caused Brexit or Trump.

Arguably, both were caused by a surge in cultural anxiety.

For months we've blamed Trump's victory on racist red neck voters feeling left behind financially.

Several recent studies have debunked that and suggest the real reason for The Don's victory was that his - mostly rural - supporters saw their country changing and they wanted to stop it.


The Christians thought their religion was under attack from gay marriage rights, transgender bathroom choices, sexual liberation and marijuana decriminalisation. The whites thought immigrants were smothering the American Way of Life.

Over in Britain, the Brexiteers didn't like being reverse colonised by people they'd already tried to colonise.

It's hard to see that cultural anxiety in New Zealand.

Sure, it looks like Winston Peters is trying to resurrect the Christian anger at the anti-smacking law, but a decade's probably been enough for us to get over the disappointment at being unable to assault our children.

The increasing debate over marijuana decriminalisation might have created a bit of a chasm, but the prime minister knocked that on the head this week, promising to keep New Zealand conservative.

Immigration's probably the closest thing we've got but both major parties - aka the establishment itself - have promised to deal with it to various degrees.

What's more, we've already had our hissy fit at politics and given them a shake up. That was the MMP referendum of 1992 when 54 per cent per cent of Kiwis voted to curtail the power of government. If that doesn't sound like much of a margin, remember, it's about as big as the pro-Brexit vote.

Anyway, even if we had the sweat-bead signs of a rising temperature, there's hardly an anti-politician in sight to whip us into a fever.

Both Gareth Morgan and Winston Peters are trying in their own ways to imitate Donald Trump but it doesn't ring true. Morgan's too considered. Winston's too establishment.

The most likely upset is that Winston doubles his party vote and conducts weeks of post-election negotiations, but that's hardly a surprise. We can see that might be coming.

So, turn the lights back on. Put the party poppers away. There probably won't be a surprise party on September 23.