Last Friday, my wife and I were a couple out of the 800+ delegates at the annual "Forum on the Family" held by Family First NZ. Bob McCroskrie had put together an impressive lineup of speakers. The guest of honour was His Excellency the ambassador of Hungary to New Zealand. Bob has made many international connections in recent years and closer cooperation with Hungarian conservatives is a welcome development. He announced a ban on recording and livestreaming from the event, and that while most of the speeches would be recorded and put online, some of the deliberations would be for delegates only.
We started with a Christian karakia in Maori and English, public recitation of the Lord's Prayer, and the singing of our national anthem: God Defend New Zealand.
The size of the event was similar to last year, but there were easily twice as many young people. The trend is a good sign. There were several references to Martin Luther King by one local and one Australian speaker (but none by US speakers), which is something I hope will fall out of favour. MLK's dream was an unrealised failure and so are the affirmative action policies he championed.
Bob's introduction went through the marks of the "new cultural religion" which is a great parallel to make for progressive causes. It's wonderful to slowly see neoreactionary themes go mainstream and every single speaker built on this theme. It put a smile on my face to see memes originating from obscure places of dissident right Twitter going up on the big screen. However, some of the content he showed highlighting the degeneracy being fed to children was a bit too disturbing and filthy for me. I looked away instead of needing to bleach my eyes later. I understand there is a need for people to see this before it really clicks as to the depth of the evil we are up against, but I've seen enough of it for a lifetime.
He played the spectacular viral clip of Disinfo Project's Kate Hannah declaring that "tradwives" who have kids with blonde braids, enjoy knitting, are into healthy food and Pinterest create a gateway to white supremacy. This clip will properly stand the test of time as an amazing recruitment ad for getting women into right-wing activism.
John Anderson, a former deputy prime minister of Australia, gave a speech on countering wokeness. He gave a good description of the forces we are up against: "Revolution is the complete inversion of an order." He gave an unexpected shout out to Christian nationalist pastor Doug Wilson from Moscow, Idaho, who he has done some podcasts with. While woke seems ascendent, he highlighted its weakness by causing increased anxiety and even sterility in the next generation through the trans agenda. "We haven't been replacing ourselves. There's a depopulation bomb about to hit ... massive demographic collapse," he said.
One thing that stands out to me from both Bob McCroskie and John Anderson's speeches are that the stats on mental illness and self-harm for liberal identifying youth are absolutely off the charts. New Zealand's stats are even worse than in America. There is going to be an ugly reckoning.
Anderson wrapped up by attacking radical self-autonomy as the god that displaces community and family bonds.
All the speakers consistently framed their issue as a matter of one religion against another. The old religion of God versus the new religion of Self.
One session was a livestream with pro-life activist Lila Rose. She's done some good work creating videos showing the development of babies in the womb and how abortion is murder. Sacrificing babies is probably the core issue that separates left from right.
Kevin Sabet talked about the cannabis industry and its roots. The connection between money, propaganda, and manufacturing social consent was the most applicable part of this topic. A thing that really stood out was that weed dispensaries in America are disproportionately located in poorer black communities. A callback was later made by Alfred Ngaro to NZ's cannabis debate where a similar argument was deployed against Helen Clark with great success. For all her statistics on how "great" legal weed would be, the reality is that the damage would fall on poor minorities already devastated by the effects of legal drunkenness and gambling.
Deborah Acason spoke on biology and fairness in sport. She was one of the Australian women weightlifters who lost to Gavin Hubbard at the Commonwealth Games. The impact of biology in sport was highlighted through a single chart: every women's world record in athletic sport has been broken by a 14-15 year old boy.
John Steenhof from the Human Rights Law Alliance in Australia spoke about the changes to human rights law that have resulted in hostility towards Christians. He gave details on a number of 70 cases so far where Christians have faced illegal persecution for their faith in his country.
He was the first speaker who identified that deconstruction is the driving force for progressives. His religious background is the same as mine, so he spoke to issues in a way that felt very familiar to me. He even quoted Dutch theologian and prime minister Abraham Kuyper.
I really think the legal side of this fight is a very important topic for the near future. We need an equivalent organisation in New Zealand, and thankfully this organisation was launched right after the HRLA speech. I'll let them get set up and do their public launch announcement before saying any more, but it is in great hands.
There were several sad stories of detransitioners after the lunch break. There was a profound statement from one 18 year old who now has to live with the life-long consequences of being lied to and butchered: "Longing is not the same as being."
Walt Heyer shared his personal journey as one of the first "transgenders" (he is now 82 years old) and his take on the subject is unique. He rejects "gender dysphoria" and says every single trans conversion is triggered by a childhood trauma, one that he worked through himself. He also made a good point about pronouns: "I don't use pronouns. You don't use pronouns when you talk to someone. You only use pronouns for people who aren't there."
The danger of the internet and trans as a techno-social contagion cannot be understated, a topic he also addressed.
Final speaker was Alfred Ngaro. He had a good message on how faith is the foundation of our land, government, and history. We are not fighting from outside the system, but from its foundation. "The footprint of faith runs deep in this land."
The day wrapped up with a short Q&A, which highlighted to me the need for a "next step" event that caters to a more highly educated audience. The Family First forum is run in a way to reach as broad and wide an audience as possible in an entertaining way. The action points are very much focused on "pray, and talk to family and friends about these issues."
That's a good thing, but it leaves me thinking of how to put together a future follow up that gets a smaller group of "restorationists" into the meat of problems, their intellectual roots, and their gnarly solutions.