John Key upset at “stuck up” New Zealand authors


Popular Prime Minister John Key says he’s struggled with being an ambassador for the literary arts because he doesn’t think the literary arts are doing as much as it could to support New Zealand.

Key, who won the 2008, 2011 and 2014 elections as leader for the National Party, has been at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland where he told reporters he’s struggled with his identity as a New Zealand politician.  

“I’ve never really thought of myself as a New Zealand politician. Coming and being an ambassador for New Zealand’s literary arts when I feel that actually the literary arts are not doing as much as they could for the New Zealand in general, but for the country … It’s just a slightly complicated position to be in,” he said.

Key said he feels “very angry with New Zealand’s writers”.

“At the moment, New Zealand, like Australia and Canada, (are dominated by) these touchy-feely, self-obsessed, very egotistical, very publicity-hungry authors who do not care about the economy.

“She cares about reputational gains. She would rather write an obscure and hard to read book for her elite arts luvvies rather than provide educational work or something that will benefit the population at large” Switzerland’s Chocolate Mint news website quoted him as saying.

Man Booker Prize winning author Eleanor Catton said she’s disappointed in Key, “doesn’t have respect for the work we do because I have tremendous respect for what he does as a politician”.

She said Key has been aligned with the National Party and his comments “probably summarise the National Party’s view of the literary world”.


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  • Gaynor

    Good on John Key telling it like it is.

  • Ilovelife

    Ha ha ha…”has been aligned with the National Party” What a dipstick she is. Oh, by the way, wasn’t it John Key’s government who gave her a New Year’s honour?

  • Simon

    Haha Brilliant

  • axeman

    Love It

  • Fairnz


  • Cadwallader

    To quote Phillip Larkin when describing an author of dross (much like Ms Catton.) The writer of fiction resides typically in the south of France and becomes “the sh*t in the shuttered chateau.” In other words they withdraw from the everyday to secure their elevation to literary status. This self-acquired status evidently entitles them to patronise the lesser mortals whose only role is to spend money on their dubious workings and to pontificste on all and every subject.

  • Intrigued

    Ha ha ha good joke Cam! Imagine if Key really was so silly to say those things on the world stage as Eleanor Catton has done in the past few days!

    Oh so pious ‘Saint Cat’ to pinch Steve Braunias’ words – what a silly girl she is. She has lost all credibility with her uppity outrage inspired by drinking too many green smoothies I suspect. Birds of a feather flock together and she really fits in well as a shining example of the bunch of toss pots in that little club.

    For a hoot of a read that also provides a clever insight into the greenie scene (I know cos I was once that naive and ideological and attended similar such gatherings when I was younger) is Steve Braunias’ campaign diary day 3. When I first read it while reading his book Mad Men I had tears rolling down my cheeks from laughing so hard. Whether any of it actually happened or not is beside the point, because it is such a good account of the ‘green scene’.

    • Papillon

      Great satire. Would be great to see more of this on Freed. The right is lacking some good satirical prose in the msm.

  • Kevin

    “an obscure and hard to read book for her elite arts luvvies”

    He got that right. I’d rather read Lee Childs or Stephen King any day.

  • R&BAvenger

    Great satire. They don’t like it up em!! Well timed return fire.

  • Justsayn

    Is this the Civilian? Nice work Cam.

  • Genevieve

    Bravo John, for having the courage to publicly speak out, and so openly in an international forum, exposing the facade and flannel of the writer’s mob, the front of organised deceit, corruption and crime against Kiwi citizenry. ;)

  • I wonder about the Man Booker – the other winner was Keri Hume who wrote what must have been the most purchased but least read book on the NZ list. Try as I might I was unable to finish it, nor could anyone I knew who also tried to read it. I think the prizes are awarded for the most self-serving and obscure book written. If it cannot be understood it must have meaning – the more obscure and convoluted the better.
    Sainsbury was ranting this morning about Catton’s right to free speech and how dare we criticise her when she exercises that right. He doesn’t see she is not being criticised for her right to speak but for the infantile drivel she spouts. He draws too long a bow there.
    Key is right on the money. Well said!

    • Quinton Hogg

      I tried to read the “Bone People” once.
      I lasted about ten pages and then went back to the Chronicles of Gor.

      • Huia

        I did struggle on to the end of the Bone People as I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. For the life of me I couldn’t, boring and disjointed for me.

    • Benoni

      I read and finished “The Bone People”. I found it had the same feel to it as Jack Kerouac’s “on the road” but in a Maori south island setting. If you like the “stream of conciousness” style of writing it is a good read.

      • Pete

        The Bone People, ..tish and pish, Ive just got the latest edition of Viz delivered, that’ll be me later today. :)

    • Pete

      It seems lost on idiots like Catton and Sainsbury that the “right to free speech” also applies to the people not on the same side of the argument as them..

      But lets get it into context, she is a arty luvvy who, to be honest, no one had ever heard of, she has written a book and been given a award by other luvvies ..thats it, she hasn’t cured cancer or anything else worthy, she has written a book !

      • OneTrack

        And the productive sector of New Zealand should be taxed harder so she can sit around writing more books.

  • Luis Cannon

    Her pulp fiction needs recycling into some educational tome of benefit to New Zealand. Would fit perfectly with Green policy.

  • oldmanNZ

    like “out of Africa”, winning awards based on a few judges does not mean its good,

    I think I read a bit of “the lumineries”, was not my type of book I would read.

    However, wining awards by the general public as judges, like box office hits.
    Is a better gauge of its wothyness.

    So is Key on the money with a book being “difficult to read?”

    Some reviews on luminaries: (these were the first 3 reviews that came up)

    “Having trouble getting into this one and notice that others agree. Think I’ll go on to something else, like Ken Follett’s Edge of Eternity. Loved the first 2.”

    “I gave up after about 50 pages. Do you think I should give it another try?”

    ” I’ve been trying to read this for months. I’m on page 204 and I’m still not interested. I hate to start a book and not finish, but I’ve got a whole stack of books calling me. I keep thinking I’ll get hooked – but never happens.”

  • Bobb

    Do your commenters realise that this post is taking the mickey?

    • Intrigued

      It’s very well done and yes Bobb, I think some commenters have missed the fact that this post is satire. Would have thought the reference to “Switzerland’s Chocolate Mint news website” should have given it away, but it’s a telling reminder too, I think, that we shouldn’t necessarily believe everything we read!

    • Cadwallader

      Yes but not to the same degree that Ms Catton’s own writing does! Literary appreciation is entirely subjective yet form the point of view of precious writers like her it allows them to assume a superiority beyond their published abilities.

  • Bobb

    The Man Booker certainly has some dreadfully boring winners but a worthy exception is Hilary Mantel’s “Wolf Hall” and the sequel “Bring up the Bodies”. Riveting story and exceptionally well written.

  • timemagazine

    Those who judged her book were probably green/ leftists like her.

    • OneTrack

      They almost certainly were.

  • kayaker

    Too funny! Satire at its best!

  • Amanda Atkinson

    What that whine-bag Eleanor Catton, doesn’t know, is that they chopped down a Pohutakawa on Tamaki Drive to make her books!

  • steve and monique

    Oh Eleanor – I think the National Party would be the ones that would be reading these books! Labour and the Greens are ill researched at best, they have proved this and perhaps if they read more they might get facts straight.

  • friardo

    Catton has made the very common mistake of judging a governments works by what she reads in MSM. I wasn’t aware that she was an ambassador for NZ, possibly she appointed herself one fine morning. I can think of another internationally known NZ author who came to believe that because he was extremely good at writing, that made him good at other things too. Catton seems as careless with her approach to judgement as she is diligent with her writing.

  • Rod

    The arts, literature and conservation all rely on having a sound economy, without which there is simply not enough money to indulge these activities.

  • Gaynor

    probably written with help from the $60,000 scholarship she got in 2011. I wonder what else.

    • Ilovelife

      I did a quick google. She has also had fellowships, travel grants, study grants and a New Year’s honour. What more does she want/

      • OneTrack

        Your money.

  • CheesyEarWax

    Hahaha. JK is a WO reader, I hope he see this post. Excellent!

  • Michael

    Ms Catton’s contribution to NZ and the world is much underestimated. My wife was gifted “The Lumminaries” a year or so ago and it is the perfect weight and size for working out. She was able to cancel her gym memebership as the strength gains, chapter by chapter have been impressive. All was well until she decided to actually read the book – after 100 pages she has broken the habits of a lifetime (she can be a little stubborn at times) and abandoned the book as unreadably boring. Ah well, back to the personal trainer.

  • oozzey

    DEAR miss CATTON try writing childrens books ,they are better suited to your mentality.

    • Diddle_De_Dee

      No not childrens books please… Surely you don’t want our children of the future to have their minds warped and twisted by inflicting the views and opinions of this ungrateful, narrow-minded and bitter cow.

    • Iva b ginn

      Mills & Boon would be more appropriate. just say’n


    It’s one thing to ‘vent’ on a blog or something, but to bag New Zealand and it’s highly popular and successful PM during an ‘official’ interview while in India shows how out of touch and selfcentred she is.

    • Christie

      Have to agree. She is entitled to her opinion, as we all are, but to bag NZ on the world stage is inappropriate and out of line. But she is a Green Party supporter, so her comments can probably mostly be taken as political comments – even though it was, as has been pointed out, John Key’s government that gave her awards.

      • IKIDUNOT

        If she spoke as a ‘representative’ of the Greens she went against the protocol that politicians tow the ‘country line’ when giving interviews while overseas.

        • OneTrack

          Do the Greens actually toe the country line? Or do they see themselves less as New Zealanders and more citizens of the world. Comrade.

  • Davo42

    Ironic and hypocritical to bang on about Tall Poppy Syndrome, and then dish some out against JK herself – to be expected from a Greenie. Seeing as she is the bestest wordsmith this country has ever produced (in her own mind) here are some sweet anagrams of her name. Lo-octane Rant, Claret at Noon, and No, not a Rectal!

    • Just a thought …

      Still waiting for ‘ Wussel ” to appear again after Xmas …… no comment on the ” terror” attacks over Xmas and now no comment on this ( which I am sure he supports )……. is he still in his wacky backy induced haze from the New Year celebrations or don’t Greenies get out of bed before February…….

  • Just a thought …

    In the immortal words of Paula Bennet – ” zip it sweetie” …..

  • Martin

    B-b-b-but. . . you can’t reverse a situation to show how absurd it is outside blinkered socialist feminist entitlement! Typical patriarchal attitude!

  • steve and monique

    What is she trying to do, promote her book via negative press. Never knew who she was till yesterday.

  • Larry

    A novel: writing about people who never existed and events that never happened. All those things that are essentially untrue.

    • Kiwibabe


  • Jdogg

    Hah, niiiceeee!
    Fancy immigrating to our country – mooching off the taxpayers, receiving a New Years honor for services to literature and then whinging about tall poppy syndrome to another country.
    Quite honestly can’t see how these comments would do her image in NZ any good, unless she’s using the “controversy sells” approach!?

    Release the Satire!
    Another good one from The Civillian –

    • North Shore Sheila

      Haha – a friend of mine posted this to her Facebook page – thinking it was fact!!!

      • Steve

        Ivwouldn’t mind betting that in 10 years time sarcasm will be added to the list of legal wrongs along with slander and libel and defamation. Next will be humour.

  • kehua

    Welldone Cam hope this gets picked up by msm, I can see the screaming headlines, Whale Attacks Catton.

  • Kiwibabe

    Literature and arts are concerned with fancy and fantasy, a bit like Labour et al, whereas Key, Joyce, English et al deal with realities.

  • Dave

    Seriously, its very hypocritical to accept the benefits and support in one hand, and bite the hand that feeds them at the same time. If Catton and the other authors who are whinging are serious, the need to prove it by handing back any support they have received.

  • Wallace Westland

    OMG. A Swiss with a sense of humour. Wonders will never cease :-)