New Zealand has shown Wales the clear advantages of independence

Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister of New Zealand. Picture by Governor-General of New Zealand (CC BY 4.0).

Jac Jones

Wales has often been called the New Zealand of the Northern Hemisphere, and with good reason.

The geography of both countries are quite similar, and both have a similar population – 3.2m in Wales’ case and 4.8m in New Zealand’s.

Both live in the shadow of a larger neighbour (Australia and England), and are the butt of their farm jokes as agriculture makes a great contribution to their individual economies.

The economies of Wales and New Zealand both benefit from tourism as it annually generates billions for each country. Additionally, both countries have extensive ties in green and renewable energy.

The people are also similar –  welcoming, hospitable, friendly and hard-working – and of course: the national sports of both countries is rugby.

That is perhaps where the comparison ends, as the All Black’s dominance on the rugby field isn’t the only advantage New Zealand have over Wales.

While Wales remained wedded to Westminster’s rule New Zealand took a different historical turn – developing throughout the 20th century from a British Colony into a rich first world country that is one of the leading nations in the happiness index.

Meanwhile, Wales has struggled as one of the poorest countries in Europe, with one in three children living in poverty, despite existing within a nation-state that is among the richest.

New Zealand’s example, however, shows that Wales has the ability – we just need the direction, leadership and self-determination to forge our own path.

 

Interference

The advantages of independence and disadvantages of depending on the over-centralised power at Westminster has been demonstrated clearly in both nations’ contrasting handling of the Coronavirus pandemic. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, a confident and strong leader who leads her people in an empathetic way, put New Zealand into complete lockdown.

This meant that only grocery shops, pharmacies, hospitals and petrol stations remained open, while vehicle travel was heavily restricted along with tough restriction measures – and all this after only six cases were reported in the country.

Without the need to defer to any higher constitutional power and adopt a ‘four nation approach,’ New Zealand locked down early and firmly and has near-eradicated the virus.

New Zealand had 1,154 Coronavirus cases and only 21 deaths, while Wales, a country of over 3 million has 13,415 Coronavirus cases and 1,274 deaths.

Yes, Wales with a smaller population has had 60 times as many deaths. The contrast in effectual governance on a matter of life and death has been completely stark.

However, the blame isn’t entirely on the Welsh Government as they have been dependent on the over-centralised and flawed approach of Westminster, which has insisted in interfering with the process of securing PPE kits and tests but have done and an objectively bad job of both.

The NHS service in Wales, dependent on a grant from Westminster, has been underfunded for years, and with the low stocks of PPE in a centrally controlled stockpile, we were not prepared.

This was despite Westminster having a five-week head start to prepare as they watched the virus wreak havoc across the world and in Europe.

The Welsh Government have since then improved slightly on the situation – but only by refusing to ‘fall into line’ with the UK Government and doing their own thing, particularly on messaging around the lockdown.

The empty beaches in Wales compared to heaving sands in England over the bank holiday weekend demonstrated that Wales can do better when we take an independent stance. If only we’d do so, and have the ability to do so, more often.

A better Wales

The spread of coronavirus has provided a tragic and stark example of the advantages of national independence.

But even beyond that, if we look at the economy, industry, quality of life and happiness New Zealand is ahead of us in the leagues table in every way.

This is despite being an island 1,200 miles from any other nation rather than on the doorstep of the richest continent in the world as we are.

The Government and the people of Wales should look towards New Zealand as what we could be if given independence, or at least the self-determination to control our own future here in Wales.

Wales could move from the poorest nation of Western Europe to a world leader in innovation, engineering, agriculture, energy and environmentalism.

We have the potential, ability and resources to create a better Wales. Who knows, they may well one day talk of New Zealand as the Wales of the Southern Hemisphere!

And we might one day even beat them at the rugby…

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Plain citizen
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Plain citizen

Very interesting points. NZ has a far greater market oriented economy and much less subsidy especially in agriculture. Would the Cardiff elite allow that? Doubt it.

david fox
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david fox

So what exactly is your solution or point? I don’t want to sound rude mate, but aren’t there already enough echo chambers and places to talk yourself round in circles online as it is? Why come here with your silly pseudonym asking questions for which you have already decided upon the answer anyway? Also where are the facts, figures, sources and citations to backup the claim in your second sentence? As your comment stands, you have made a claim and are expecting the reader to take it on trust after naming yourself “Plain citizen” and then answered a question that… Read more »

Plain citizen
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Plain citizen

By 1990 virtually all NZ agriculture was stripped of its subsidies and deregulated and it has thrived, now forming approx 12.4% of NZ gdp (agriculture forms 1.5% of gdp in Wales). In NZ there has therefore been a move away from chemical and additive based farming to pastoral (grassland and using more natural products like hay and sileage instead of chemical and hormone enhancements to animal and poultry products) because without harmful subsidy it makes sense. I’m implying Wales could go the same way. What echo chamber are you in? Looks like you don’t want anyone rocking your boat and… Read more »

O.R
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O.R

If Wales was to go the same way as New Zealand in terms of it’s agriculture there’d be only a handful of people farming the whole of Cymru. When subsidies went (overnight) in New Zealand farms were amalgamated into huge ranches or stations just for them to continue to be viable and many people were lost to the industry. The dairy sector here in Wales is rapidly going the same way with many dairy farms milking herds in excess of 400 cows, with more land needed to sustain fewer and fewer farmers. If subsidies were to go most farmers would… Read more »

j humphrys
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j humphrys

Having read Carl Zimmer’s Microcosm, which looked at E Coli, I wonder if industrial farming will see
us off in a fashion that Sars2 covid19 will seem mild? I hope that we can organise family farm/forest
in such a way that outbreaks can be rapidly isolated.

Sibrydionmawr
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Sibrydionmawr

Of recent years New Zealand has been moving away from the disastrous neoliberal wet dream of a market economy that more or less impoverished the many for the benefit of the few. Indeed New Zealand so wholeheartedly adopted neoliberalism that it was one of the first to realise its deleterous effects, especially in areas such as house prices. However, lessening subsidies is a good idea, but that would mean that food prices would have to rise, and with that wage rises for the less well paid – which should be happening anyway, no-one should be on anything less than £10… Read more »

Huw Davies
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Huw Davies

….”let’s not forget that just over a decade ago the institutions most wedded to the idea of a market economy failed their own test and were then subsidised to the tune of billions of pounds, something the poorest in the UK, and Wales more so due to relative levels of poverty that goes back decades are reminded of and blamed for every day.”…. … and that’s the bit we should really remember now. People think that government paying out 80% for a period is generous to workers, well think again. This is a subsidy to keep big business afloat, it’s… Read more »

Sibrydionmawr
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Sibrydionmawr

The one begets the other. Wasn’t Thatcher’s premise that competition would deliver the goods in a market economy? And she was directly thinking of small businesses. But capitalism is still the issue, for once the profit motive becomes the driving force, (as opposed to the thoroughly acceptable goal of making a decent living) greed takes over as the overriding concern and the bigger and more powerful swallow or displace the small. Corporations are pretty much the same no matter what kind of ownership regime is in place. It’s not called State Capitalism for no reason! Huge industries should, in the… Read more »

Plain citizen
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Plain citizen

How does lessening regulation increase house prices? The NZ economy was very efficient and prosperous in its deregulated state it became very attractive to foreign buyers who wanted to live there which pushed up prices. Therefore regulate immigration if that is your thing. You are correct about the US agri sector where vast subsidised multinationals dominate through extensive lobbying to the detriment of small producers. I agree it is a disgrace. The only way smaller producers can thrive is with differentiated products (eg organic or similar). You are also correct in your penultimate para (I’m assuming you refer to the… Read more »

Mathew Rees
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Mathew Rees

New Zealand is isolated and on the other side of the world.

There is a huge war coming and here we are discussing independence for Wales. It’s not going to happen.

Phil
Guest
Phil

Matthew I really don’t understand why you are so against taking control of our own country .have you got little confidence that Wales can make our own decision.
.With an electorate with your mindset then probably you are right it’s not going to happen .

Wales is already the poorest part of the UK so what’s the difference by having independence at least we can grow from within by doing so

Ceri
Guest
Ceri

Let’s follow the logic from the beginning. Huge war coming. OK, got it. Let’s not have the decision making in the hands of our government elected by out populace? What else would we be willing to get roped into? Entering conflict, trade or any major state level decision could be made from Cardiff Bay via the will of the Cymry rather than from Westminster where our voices are unheard and our will never considered.

Ann Owen
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Ann Owen

Quick questions – what big war exactly? Are you saying that UK – and by default Wales – would be dragged into it, and on whose side?? Or are you saying that UK will be waging war?? As I see it all good reasons for an independent Wales making her own decisions!

Paul
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Paul

Big difference between Wales and New Zealand? Wales has a land boarder NZ doesn’t.
Our very existence – social and economic depends on movement between the two nations – to add any barrier (physical or economic) between two nations would be highly damaging.

Ceri
Guest
Ceri

Yes let’s merge France and Spain, and Germany, then Poland… Oh wait…

Plain citizen
Guest
Plain citizen

Very good.

Ceridwen
Guest
Ceridwen

It saddens me deeply Paul, but I have to agree with you. An Independent Wales is something I would love to celebrate in my lifetime, but the reality I fear would be a disaster. How sad.

CapM
Guest
CapM

If you think the reality of an independent Cymru would be a disaster why on earth would you want to see one achieved.
Is it the case that you’re pretending to want an independent Cymru so that by writing it off as a disaster assumes more “weight” than if you came straight out and said – I don’t want an independent Wales because I think it would be a disaster.

Gareth Wyn Jones
Guest
Gareth Wyn Jones

In what way? Please explain?

Philip Hughes
Guest
Philip Hughes

I am half Welsh. Also half English, I have seen a doctor about one of those blood transfusion thingies, but he said sorry it won’t help and get out of my office. Any-hows, a border between Wales and England. This may be a news flash to some people but there are loads of borders between loads of different countries. Neighbouring countries that is. The amount of confusion that causes, well imagine you are in France or Brazil, and say, so some reason, you want to trade with neighbouring countries, something to do with trade I expect, you just have trade… Read more »

j humphrys
Guest
j humphrys

Note , Saes; “thou shalt not covet thy neighbours land”.

John Young
Guest
John Young

It’s blindingly obvious to all but the blind that Cymru can exist as an Independent and prosperous country. I fail to understand why so many can’t envisage the possibility. The people that believe this have a very low opinion of Welsh people. Which means they have a very low opinion of themselves. How strange is that ? We’ve just got to keep repeating it till it sinks in. Cymru isn’t too small. There are 100 or more Independent countries in the world smaller than Cymru. Our economy is the weakest in the UK at the moment and is becoming gradually… Read more »

Josh Foster
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Josh Foster

This has nothing to do with independence. The national movement really must desist from using EVERYTHING as evidence that indy is the panacea for all ills. This is about competent leadership. We’ve seen that the Welsh government has the power to execute a different strategy to Westminster’s, yet here we are, blaming Westminster not Cardiff. Labour in Wales decided that their unionism was more important than the wellbeing of the Welsh electorate. But Plaid continue to cosy up to them. Labour are a viscerally unionist, anti-Welsh party, and are completely incompetent. We need to grow up, stop blaming England for… Read more »

Huw Davies
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Huw Davies

This mess is our fault because we are part of the Union. Devolution is seriously inhibited especially when we have a loyalist unionist party running the show for the last 20 years and opposition parties that also manifest the same dependency traits. So this has to do with independence, because then we would need to be at the top of our collective game to get on with managing our affairs without constraints imposed by the Union.

Rhosddu
Guest
Rhosddu

Correct. Cymru’s predicament is the result of both facts, namely a colonial relationship in a centralised state (and with inadequate devolution) and a Welsh Government comprising unionist donkeys who only started to act in Wales’s true interests when Covid-19 came along. And there’s a third, psychological, factor: New Zealand’s people are not a nation of suppine forelock-tuggers waiting to be told what to do by Westminster and the British media. And that suits Welsh Labour fine. New Zealand gets Jacinda, we get Mark Drakeford; but we voted for him.

j humphrys
Guest
j humphrys

” Inadequate devolution? ” Try devolution inadequate?

Rhosddu
Guest
Rhosddu

Both, I think, JH.

Josh Foster
Guest
Josh Foster

Excuses, excuses. This will get us nowhere.

Josh Foster
Guest
Josh Foster

Excuses, excuses

Steve Duggan
Guest
Steve Duggan

Yes part of the blame must be with Welsh mentality- subjugated for centuties what do you expect? But the dire state in Wales is not the fault of that mentality but solely the fault of Westminster and an over centralised UK. So England is to blame. However, we should not play the blame game here, it’s pointless. We must and will gain independence and stop the neglect that has caused our dire situation.

Keith Parry
Guest
Keith Parry

The Irish prime minister tweeted today that that for the first time since the cv19 outbreak the country had no deaths from cv19.
A strong argument for independence.

Huw J Davies
Guest
Huw J Davies

Much easier to achieve if you are surrounded by the sea. Oh…hang on.

M.B
Guest
M.B

Great argument Keith. The comparisons between us and Ireland are uncanny…….. Except they are surrounded by water. Much easier to control the movement of people. The north also agreed to fall into line with some of the republics policy’s so they acted in the interest of the island of Ireland. Putting politics aside, unlike this lot. Other arguments for independence based on Ireland; no NHS, I’m sure the Welsh would love to be charged £50 per GP visit, mass emigration of the young and skilled to find work, the collapse of their economy with a bail out coming from the… Read more »

Jack
Guest
Jack

This article raises some good points but it doesn’t mention the fact that Wales’ larger neighbour (England) has a 160 mile open border with Wales whereas NZ’s larger neighbour (Australia) is over 1,300 miles away. Even if Wales was independent, it would still share an island with 2 other states in England & Scotland. Geography meant the virus was a lot harder to contain in Wales than in countries such as NZ, Iceland or even Ireland.

Ceri
Guest
Ceri

There are some nations that do have land borders that have fared better than Wales. We have 1 land border, 1 neighboring nation across that border. Greece, with far fewer deaths per capita, has 1 (much larger) land border with 4 neighboring nations across that border. The main difference? Wales is not a sovereign nation with the power to enforce our own policies, Greece is. It is not geography that curtailed our response – the virus didn’t originate in London.

Jack
Guest
Jack

Agreed but this article is specifically talking about NZ, which isn’t a great comparison for the reasons you just listed.

M.B
Guest
M.B

Do you know anything about Greece and its borders? And the Balkan states. Also many of Greece’s centres of population are far from the border, a large majority live on islands etc. Wales doesn’t have a border in the same sense. Not a comparison.

Ceri
Guest
Ceri

Diwedd y byd! ‘do you know anything about Greece…and the Balkan states’ without adding anything is a little arbitrary. Do you? Yeesh. The fact that Greece has a very different border situation but, geographically speaking, isn’t a million miles away from our border situation is my point! They have 4 neighbours across their land border, we have 1. We have far more covid deaths AND we’re on an island. Given that every country is different, what is a valid comparison? You won’t find a carbon copy of Cymru so we must use availible models. Pointing out that there are differences… Read more »

convention.cymru
Guest

Wales is still a colony. NZ used to be but got itself independence. Kind of. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dominion_of_New_Zealand . Careful Wales, NZ indy is a bit of a muddle, because its all very Westminster. Much better to hold a Constitutional Convention, Declare Independence and write a Constitution. But at least they asserted themselves, contributed to WW2 with NZ ships. Can Wales do this?

Steve Duggan
Guest
Steve Duggan

Every country has it’s issues but we can learn much from New Zealand. The UK is a highly centralised state where devolved power to the other countries of the Union, the regions and the cities is scorned upon. If you look at how much power is held locally in Germany you will realise just how far behind we are. The current political set-up in London does not want to spread the power – a consequence of Empire days. However, we in Cyrmu now have a golden chance to start anew and make things better for ourselves, it can’t be any… Read more »

Jonathan Gammond
Guest
Jonathan Gammond

If I were to think of a New Zealand of the Northern Hemisphere it would be an island country like Iceland, or if you allowed countries with land borders, Norway or Finland. Simplistic comparisons with other anglophone countries are just a pleasant distraction from reality.

Howard Edwards
Guest
Howard Edwards

Quite a good article comparing Wales and NZ. As far as independence is concerned ( and I am in favour of Welsh independence) , the one advantage that New Zealand has is that it has no land borders with any other country. The police in Wales have worked very hard in preventing people from entering Wales during this lockdown, but even so, far too many have succeeded in sneaking in to get to the beaches and the mountains etc. The very long border that Wales has with England has enabled a lot of furtive travel into Wales via back roads.… Read more »

Jamie
Guest
Jamie

The welsh are friendly and welcoming? I think not i have found the welsh to be quite rude in the past!

Wrexhamian
Guest
Wrexhamian

Heavens above! Even in Gorseinon?

Eifion
Guest
Eifion

Be ydan ni wedi neud I chi Jamie sydd yn “rude” Dechrau siarad Cymraeg pan ddaethoch chi fewn I siop?

Rhosddu
Guest
Rhosddu

…neu’r dafarn?

M.B
Guest
M.B

Similar populations? NZ population is 50% larger than Wales. Who has been funding the furlough scheme? Where does benefit funding come from? The only thing the Welsh govt have done differently is to stay in full lockdown, which is easy when someone else is paying the bill. Our “larger neighbour” is going through the same as us. Using this pandemic as a stick to beat your nationalist agenda is disgusting and the comparisons between NZ and AUZ are totally flawed in relation to Wales. How would we control the flow of people during a full lockdown between England and Wales.… Read more »

George Arnold
Member
George Arnold

You are so wrong. Wales is weaker inside the union. Brexit was won by convincing people our money was being wasted going to a centralised euro government. Money easily afforded by the UK. Money which Wales always received net benefit from its share. Wales puts a far larger % of our GDP into the coffers of Westminster than we retain for ourselves and receive little back. If we held on to our GDP we would more than be able to provide furlough for the nation. As for controlling the flow from England… Its called border control points. As for the… Read more »

M.B
Guest
M.B

How can you put border control points along the English/Welsh border? That would be an administrative nightmare. As for the Welsh GDP, all the research I have read shows a major fiscal gap in our budget in terms of money raised and government expenditure. Our economy isn’t separate to the rest of the UK. The main industry is the services sector. This sector would not be sustainable if we restricted it’s customer base to Wales. Kicking people out of different political persuasion and making political crimes sounds more like 1930s Germany than the country I love. If your Wales ever… Read more »