We need to talk about what Israel Adesanya said at the Halbergs last night.

Adesanya said: "We have this culture of tall poppy syndrome which is messed up and you want to call it humble."

I am so tired of hearing that we have a tall poppy syndrome in this country. We don't.


We might have had tall poppy in the 80s and 90s… maybe.

But today, show me the proof.

Because I can show you countless times when we've done the exact opposite of tall poppy syndrome.

All the Kiwis who've turned out at parades to celebrate our winning America's Cup teams.

At the parades celebrating winning All Blacks.

Our celebration of Taika Waititi's Oscar.

Our pride over Lorde… her producer Joel Little… the Flight of the Concordes… the new chief executive of Air New Zealand, Greg Foran.

Do you see anyone trying to cut these outstanding Kiwis down? No… we're proud of them.


It's totally unfair to keep running New Zealand down with this tall poppy nonsense. It makes us look like a bunch of jealous haters when we're not.

You know what's going on here?

People say 'tall poppy syndrome' because it's an easy label… it gives them an excuse for not dealing with the real reason for criticism.

Take for example the Beauden Barrett debate. Today I saw that used as an example of tall poppy syndrome… because people are jealous that he gets to go on holiday in the USA.

That's not why people are upset. People are upset because rugby bosses are ruining the Super Rugby comp in so many ways, including letting their star players not even turn up for a huge chunk at the start of the comp.

Even Israel Adesanya.

Is tall poppy syndrome the problem here?

Or is simply that combat athletes like him talk themselves up a lot and swagger around the place and if you're not used to combat sport… which New Zealand isn't… it's quite confrontational… it probably gets a bad reaction.

And is it maybe that he's taking it a little personally that his sport - Mixed Martial Arts - isn't more popular here?

Look, I think we Kiwis just like people to be decent. Be famous… be a star… but be kind… don't try to get special treatment over others… be a team player.

And if people aren't… we call them out.

There is nothing wrong with that.

I'm proud of the way we are. I'm tired of this tall poppy nonsense. It's a banal label that needs to be ditched.