Or we could all just move to New Zealand

This is Maurice Williamson, a member of the New Zealand parliament, speaking in defense of marriage equality.

I would like him to leave New Zealand, move to anywhere in the US, run for the Senate or House, win, and bring some sense and humor to American politics. If he’s not willing to do that, can we at least have a few more Americans with that attitude replacing the pious nitwits we’ve got now?

And then the bill passes, and…everyone stands up and starts singing?

Damn. It’s so weird to see politics working and doing good. The equivalent over here would be a session opening with some loud stupid prayer, the majority of the politicians napping or skipping out, a few ludicrous bureaucrats droning pro forma over whether we should torture distant brown people or drop bombs on them, or tweaking a bill to give more money to the rich.

Then they don’t sing or express any joy at what they’ve done. I could imagine them standing up and maybe singing some grim dolorous hymn, or better yet, humming the Imperial March from Star Wars, but that’s about it.

Wouldn’t it be awesome to have politicians who were pursuing their career because they wanted to make the world a better place?


  1. bethy says

    Ha! It’s uncanny how quickly you heard about this! I left a big gay party in Christchurch, NZ an hour ago after spending the evening watching the parliamentary debate and then celebrating the passing of the bill with a lot of excited fellow queers. During Maurice Williamson’s address I was excitedly telling my partner that I had to send the video of it to P Z…she had no idea who I was talking about, of course.
    Maurice makes me proud to be a Kiwi!

  2. John Morales says

    And so NZ leaves Australia looking antiquated.

    And yes, that was a most excellent speech.

  3. thumper1990 says

    Aw man, I wish UK parliament was like that. I mean, our MPs try to be funny… but they don’t manage it often.

  4. Kimpatsu says

    Note that he has a degree in physics. How man members of either the British parliament or the US Congress can make the same claim?

  5. thumper1990 says


    Another fair point. Man, I wish our parliament was more like theirs!

    Dear New Zealanders: I am jealous.

  6. sundiver says

    Dear New Zealanders: You’re lucky. In the US legislators are not only unfunny but way too many sound like they don’t have the brains to pour piss out of a boot even with instructions written on the heel.

  7. tehconz says

    I love that he’s also a member of National, the traditionally right-wing party.

  8. thumper1990 says

    they don’t have the brains to pour piss out of a boot even with instructions written on the heel.

    *explosive laughter*

    Have an internets, have all the internets!

  9. tansy says

    The best thing? Maurice Williamson is a conservative MP. This is what passes for conservatism in New Zealand!
    (Oh, sure, we have our share of rancid bigots, but we just passed marriage equality by a big majority and I’m allowed to feel a bit patriotic now, I think)
    It’s worth watching most of the speeches, I think – I cried at a few of them. And even most of the antis were hastening to reassure people that they’re totally not bigoted – they seemed to realise that they’re going to be on the wrong side of history and trying (unsuccessfully) to do damage control.
    And in the final video you can watch the whole debating chamber burst into song after the result is read out.

  10. anteprepro says

    That was pretty awesome. Seriously, though, he’s a conservative? I’m jealous. And all the more spiteful towards our extremist Republicans who would never grow enough sense or humor to become half the man that Williamson is. And all the more spiteful towards our mealy-mouthed Democrats, who rarely ever have the audacity to say something as plainly and forcefully. I mean, honestly, as reassuring as this is that more and more nations are heading towards equality, it really also highlights just how fucked the U.S. is. Until we get an entirely new crop of politicians, at very least.

  11. grizzle says

    I just wrote this man an email sincerely thanking him. Wow, thanks for posting this, PZ….

  12. thumper1990 says


    Wow, that video choked me up a bit. According to one of the commenters (it’s a youtube comment, so, salt anyone?) it’s a Maori love song called “Pokarekare ana”. I love how all the MPs stood up for it :)

  13. RFW says

    What I see here is a legislature not utterly corrupted by the pernicious influence of great wealth.

    All the more reason for the US to drastically increase tax rates on the filthy rich and thereby destroy (to some extent) their influence on American politics.

  14. eveningchaos says

    NZ is making all of the Commonwealth countries look antiquated. As a Canadian I am so embarrassed by our current Harper government. I’m proud that my local representative, Linda Duncan of the NDP, is a bright, progressive, and principled leader, but she is outnumbered by boorish, narrow-minded, and cognitively biased MPs. We still have over two more years with our current government. I am counting the days with great anticipation.

  15. DLC says

    He got it exactly right. “This is fantastic for the people it affects, but for the rest of us, life will go on.”

  16. Blobulon says

    I’m very proud to be a Kiwi today.
    It seemed like the people in the gallery started singing before the clerk could formally finish reading, but the Speaker let them continue. I’m pleased they didn’t get shushed, and that the MP’s gave a standing ovation to the result. 77 yeas!
    Pokarekare Ana is a beautiful love song.
    Within my lifetime homosexuality has been decriminalized and now legally ‘normalized’ (for want of a much better word). This is just a fantastic day. Big gay rainbows for everyone!

  17. thumper1990 says

    I keep coming back to this story to cheer me up :) Today’s been shit, so I need it. Ironically, the video has made me develop a bit of a man crush on Mr. Williamson.

    *does a little dance* yay New Zealand!

  18. shouldbeworking says

    NZ rules! Well done. How about teaching the Canadian parliament how to do their jobs? Please.

  19. Irmin says

    Wow, great speech. The “unnatural act” vs. celibacy part is especially ingenious.

    @Kimpatsu: Well, a degree in physics unfortunately isn’t a sufficient condition for being able to deliver great speeches. In that case, my chancellor’s speeches wouldn’t be so boring usually ;)

  20. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    I just spent a half hour crying & giggling instead of studying.

    Thank you, PZ for posting this.

    As an aside, how’s Franken doing? He has to be somewhat constrained by a senate that would be much less welcoming of his humor than the NZ parliament, but I’ve always thought him smart and honest, and willing to joke, even if his jokes aren’t particularly to my taste. [Though MJ with Stewart Smalley was *classic*.]

  21. says

    This partly why I moved to New Zealand from dreary old Britain. And what a coincidence – I’m writing this on the morning ferry from Waiheke Island to Auckland. I can see Waiheke’s member of parliament (Denise Roche, Green party) sitting on the other side of the ferry – enjoying public transport with the rest of us. I don’t think I’d see that happening in Britain.

  22. happyevilslosh says

    Hey, a Kiwi here.

    I’ve noted a number of people expressing surprise that the MP posted is a member of the more rightwing party in parliament, National. First, make no mistake, National engage in their fair share of tweaking laws to give more money to the rich. However I’m pretty sure it is also true to say that National is most definitely to the political left of the American Democrats.

    Incidentally his isn’t the only good talk regarding the bill. I don’t know where you can find them (although I’m told they are out there) but a number of the others are worth listening to too. In particular, other than Maurice Williamson, look out for those by Paul Hutchinson (who references intergender people), Mojo Mathers (a deaf MP with an adorable story about her daughter going to her formal with her girlfriend), Kris Fa’afoi (who talks favourably about the bill from a pacific islander perspective, who usually come across as not OK with this sort of thing), Kevin Hague (a gay MP who talks about the personal effects on gay people), and Tau Henere (who lays the smackdown on an anti-change MP).

  23. happyevilslosh says

    In fact I found them!

    They seem to mostly be uploaded as 20 parts. To save you trouble:

    Part 6, Tau Henare (National)

    Part 8, Kevin Hague (Green)

    Part 11, Te Ururoa Flavell (Maori Party) forgot to recommend earlier but also pretty good

    Part 14, Kris Fa’afoi (Labour)

    Part 15, Mojo Mathers (Green)

    Part 16, Paul Hutchison (National) who references intergender people

    (apologies for earlier typos)

  24. Rich Woods says

    @Kimpatsu #8:

    Note that he has a degree in physics. How many members of either the British parliament or the US Congress can make the same claim?

    Probably not many at all. For the 650 MPs in the House of Commons, this is the only summary I can find (of the 617 having degrees):

    27 have science and technology degrees
    15 environment studies and geography
    12 engineering and architecture
    10 medicine and allied subjects

    The remaining numbers are dominated by law and PPE.

  25. spandrel says

    How about teaching the Canadian parliament how to do their jobs? Please.

    Canadian Parliament passed the Civil Marriage Act in 2005. (“This enactment extends the legal capacity for marriage for civil purposes to same-sex couples in order to reflect values of tolerance, respect and equality, consistent with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.”) Job well done.

  26. Amblebury says

    It did feel good to be a New Zealander last night.

    In addition to the other excellent speeches posted, I’d suggest people Google Grant Robertson’s too. He’s deputy leader of the Labour party, and is gay. And a good keen rugby man.

    Yes. The perfect human.

    smutclyde It was interesting watching last night. Many pollies who I’d usually write off as plonkers (Tau Henare) were really impressive.

  27. CaitieCat says

    Wow, the dust in here got really bad while I was watching that second video, of the spontaneous singing…I’m sure that’s what’s wrong with my eyes. That must be it.

    Bravo, my Kiwi fellow Commonwealthers. Braviss’.

    – a strangely wet-eyed queer Canadian

  28. Ichthyic says

    And so NZ leaves Australia looking antiquated.

    well, that’s just par for the course!

    btw, it’s the exact attitude towards politics expressed by people like Williamson, and it is common here, that really attracted me to migrate to NZ.

  29. Ichthyic says

    …also of note, in case it hasn’t been said yet, is that this was a “conscience” vote, which means that the major parties would not pressure individual members to vote either way; each individual was completely free to vote however they chose to.

    and nearly 2:1, individuals freely chose to support equal rights here.

  30. Rob says

    A happy day and proud to be New Zealander today. As a youth I campaigned for decriminalisation and now there is marriage equality. Fantastic. It’s none of my business who other people love. It is my business if society treats others unfairly.

    I had no idea Maurice had that speech in him. Normally I’d be happy to see him go to pretty much anywhere else on this planet, along with many other conservatives who voted in favour of the Bill last night.

  31. betelgeux says

    Note that he has a degree in physics. How many members of either the British parliament or the US Congress can make the same claim?

    Two US Congressmen: Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ) and Rep. Bill Boyd (D-IL). Rep. Jerry McNerney (D-CA) holds a PhD in Mathematics, but he’s an engineer, not a scientist. Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY) has a degree in microbiology.

    Here’s an interesting graphic by The Atlantic depicting the actual professions of US Senators and Representatives:

  32. sw says

    Just another proud New Zealander chiming in to gloat. We were also the first country to give women the vote, and of our last 3 prime ministers, 2 have been women and 2 have been agnostic.
    We’ve got plenty of things we need to sort out in our country, but I’d like to think we’re doing pretty well. If we keep our state-owned assets, tighten up a few financial loopholes, get a decent constitution that ensures things like free speech, change some infrastructure focuses and legalize weed we would be winning the “best country” competition by quite a way I think.

  33. cm's changeable moniker (quaint, if not charming) says

    And a good keen rugby man.

    Rugby’s fabulous. Everyone understands.

    download their own Ecstasy tablets


    That’s my pupils, now. Tomorrow’s gonna be a bastard. ;-)

  34. Ichthyic says

    +1 to SWs post at #51.

    the privatization movement here looks remarkably like what was happening in the US during the Reagan era.

  35. billforsternz says

    Just another NZer popping in to say this made me proud too. This does show our Parliament in a good light, and unfortunately that might be a little misleading, but still it’s worth celebrating the moment.

    I’d like to provide a little personal perspective about the left/right split in NZ and how it compares to the USA, for purposes of context. In NZ the main left and right parties are Labour and National respectively. Does this mean they broadly line up with the Democrat and Republican parties ? No, a thousand times no. Someone up above acknowledges this, but weirdly to me at least this seems not to be widely understood here in NZ. I personally tend to vote National. Shock horror I know. But that’s because I am a (little bit) fiscally conservative. I believe in freedom of choice and for me that means I believe in free markets and simple, uncomplicated, minimal regulation. I don’t believe in burgeoning bureaucracy, I believe taxes should be kept as low as possible (but no lower). On the other hand I am (a lot) socially liberal. So I like all the (non-fiscal) stuff that warms the hearts of the horde here. There are a lot of people like me in NZ and the National party is a decent choice for them. Some people call this position the “classic liberal” position. I saw PZ getting wound up about that phrase the other day as it happens, maybe it doesn’t make much sense in the USA but it does here. I wouldn’t be surprised if Maurice Williamson describes himself as a classic liberal. Diversion: Incidentally he is not a dunderhead as someone described him above. You can see that from his speech. He was obviously anticipating a future for 3D printer technology where complex materials are fabricated, not just complex parts.

    My wife on the other hand (who also occasionally posts here) balances me at the polling booth. The horde would hug her, even as they keep me at arms length because she votes for the most left wing candidates possible and would love nothing better than to ruin our lifestyle by ruinous tax increases (just joking sweetie).

    An important take away is that we are not as massively divisive and divided here. The local MP (representative) is Grant Robertson (Labour), gay, impressive and a likely future prime minister. The other day he happened to be sitting on the bus in the seat in front of my wife and I. My wife and I were talking about the (weird) increasing popularity of Catholicism in NZ (we are both reality based, i.e. atheists). Noticing Grant sitting there I raised my voice slightly and said something like “It’s crazy, why would you join an organization founded on a completely flawed premise – it would be like joining the Labour party”. This had the intended effect, Grant laughed, turned around and joked with us. My wife and he agreed it would be a good idea to tie me up on polling day and Grant offered to help her. To my regret the conversation ended without me pointing out that I do hope to see Grant Robertson as PM someday, even though I’ll probably be voting against him.

    Finally here is a link to the same main story on NZ’s most popular *right wing* blog. The blogger is David Farrar, definitely a classic liberal, and I hope if you click on the link you’ll find his sentiments to be heart warming;


    Weirdly when the subject of US politics comes up Farrar is one of the majority here who doesn’t realise that National doesn’t align with Republican (it probably aligns fairly closely, maybe to the left even of Democrat). So Farrar often takes the Republican side of arguments, even though I am sure so many of their policies would be abhorrent to him, something that really puzzles me.

  36. terryg says

    I, too, feel proud to be a New Zealander today. which is a lovely change. Pokarekare Ana made me cry too.

  37. optimalcynic says

    Kimpatsu @8: The UK has even had a research scientist as prime minister. You might have heard of her, she’s been in the news lately.

  38. says

    Pokarekare Ana was beautiful, I’d take that as our national anthem any day over the dreary “God Defend New Zealand.” Imagine that — a national anthem that is a simple love song.

    I would ask that people be very careful with statements such as “National are to the left of the US Democrats.” I don’t agree with this. A party’s position on the political spectrum is as much about the direction they are trying to pull the country in, not the place the country is in, and National pulls NZ to the right, while the US Dems pull the US to the left.

  39. llyris says

    Everyone, go down to the eastern beach with a tent peg and a rope, tie yourselves on and start swimming.
    We’re coming! Call us West Island.

  40. says

    I remember a few years ago walking back to my car and finding Helen Clark (Prime Minister at the time) sitting in the next door car having a sandwich and catching up on some paperwork. No visible security, just her assistant in the passenger seat. Shuffled into my car so as not to scratch the PM’s car and drove off thinking that there would be very few countries in the world where you could do that. So glad I moved here!!!

    Oh and the local bigots are getting butthurt!!!


  41. John Morales says


    andrewbrown, FYI, the term ‘butthurt’ is deprecated here after more than one gay commenter objected to it.

    (Also, as a Kiwi, you should recognise it’s called a bum, not a butt)

  42. says

    Fair point I’ll rephrase, they’re pulling faces like a bulldog sucking lemon juice of a nettle, needing several tons of cheese to go with their whine. At least they haven’t gone down the “My (heavenly) daddy’s gonna smash you!” route yet.

    We’ll see what the next fight they moaning muppet McCroskie comes up with!

  43. Ichthyic says

    I personally tend to vote National. Shock horror I know. But that’s because I am a (little bit) fiscally conservative. I believe in freedom of choice and for me that means I believe in free markets and simple, uncomplicated, minimal regulation.

    then you’re a complete idiot that didn’t learn a damn thing about what market deregulation did to contribute to the financial collapse in 2008.

    you’re a failed Kiwi that has forgotten that once New Zealand was the socialist gem of the West, and people came here from all over the world to see how that worked!

    now, you’ve become so brainwashed with the rhetoric of plutocrats, you don’t think twice about the destruction they have caused with their policies globally since the 1980s.

    Wake up. National RAN on the platform of selling off the nation’s assets to the highest bidder. Ask yourself: What economist from ANY university in New Zealand supported that?

    I read all the reports, not a single academic economist said this would be a good idea.

    National has become corrupt, and basically has decided that selling NZ for scrap is in its best interests!

    and you happily run along, not even realizing what the hell it is you are doing in supporting them. I saw the exact same thing happen in the States in the 80s with Reagan, and the same thing in the UK with Thatcher.

    WAKE UP.

    NZ is the last place where there is still a chance to stop this madness, but people like yourself have to lose the lies you have told yourselves about how deregulation makes everything wonderful. IT’S A LIE.

  44. Ichthyic says

    The horde would hug her, even as they keep me at arms length because she votes for the most left wing candidates possible and would love nothing better than to ruin our lifestyle by ruinous tax increases (just joking sweetie).

    she should divorce you, you ignorant condescending prick.

  45. thumper1990 says


    She was involved in a project which aimed to make ice cream more frothy so that vendors could sell more air and less ice cream. They succeeded; it’s where 99 flakes came from, but she was hardly bending the boundaries of the possible.

  46. grumpypathdoc says

    I see something like this, and as many have commented, my day gets brightened a bit.

    Forget that Mr.Maurice Williams is a conservative ( I am about a very few things), a physicist (sorry about that, you non-biologists) and about some things, a nitwit (come on, the threat of 3D printers is that they could print off guns and ecstasy??!!). At least he sided right on this issue. Wonder what his stand on gun control is?

    The US Senate couldn’t leave me more depressed than it did yesterday. On second thought, yes it could, in oh so many ways.

  47. mtcf says

    Dear Ichthyic

    This is one thing I hate about comments in blogs – how quickly they deteriorate!

    My husband has commented here many times – totally agreeing with what has been said by many commentators. He then writes a post that spells out where he is coming from – and you attack him like that? A post that be the way, talks about meeting the possible next leader of the NZ and that he hopes that this is so – even though Grant Robertson is Labour, not National. Do you not think that he is an intelligent person? – that he is widely read? So his politics don’t agree with yours – and mine – but that does not make him a person deserving of your scorn. No political party is a perfect match for an individual persons beliefs – unless you are Winnie Peters and start your own.

    He is not ignorant, he is not condescending and he is not a prick. (Chances are that if you both meet in the “real world” you might actually enjoy each others company)

    No I won’t divorce him. Please don’t tell me what I should do.

  48. says

    Two things:
    1) Tone trolling will get you nowhere with us.


    but that does not make him a person deserving of your scorn

    Yes, in this case it does. Anyone who keeps pushing and voting for rightwing market uber alles bullshit is actively seeking to harm people and destroy lives. That is worthy of endless scorn and contempt, and that’s what it will get around here.

  49. erik333 says


    It would be nice if politicians did that, yes. However, there is only one selection criteria for politicians: the ability to get elected.

  50. mtcf says


    Right – I’ve just checked the definition of ‘Tone Trolling’ – and yep failed on all accounts there – especially the last part as I usually look out for what Ichthyic has to say because I enjoy his/her comments. It was certainly not my intention to disrupt the discussion. However I strongly believe in ‘play the ball, not the man’ – and I think Ichtyic’s posts didn’t do that.

    Well I will just have to disagree with you. Isn’t that what an internet forum is about?

  51. billforsternz says

    Thanks for your support sweetie, Some people on Pharyngula do not understand the concept that there is a wide range of issues that reasonable people can disagree about. Either support the party line on every point or you’re an idiot, ignorant and a prick apparently. In NZ the difference between Labour and National is small. One party is the voice of unionists and teachers. The other is the voice of farmers and shopkeepers. There’s no reason farmers and teachers can’t listen to each other, compromise and get along. That’s actually what this whole thread is celebrating. Maurice Williamson, a classic liberal, was celebrated as a hero on Pharyngula. Just for one day.

  52. ButchKitties says

    Maryan Street’s speech made me want to high-five her through my tablet. (Part 9 if you use happyevilslosh’s links)