Where those Kiwimeter questions came from

TVNZ’s Kiwimeter quiz has caused a lot of conversation. I don’t call it a “survey” because that seems like far too serious a title for something which slots respondents into categories like a “Which Kardashian are you?” feature in Girlfriend magazine.

(Kim. Always.)

Madeleine Chapman does a good review of the issues at The Spinoff. Tze Ming Mok questions whether it’s really racist, or just a bad survey, at Public Address. And Giovanni Tiso has some really interesting thoughts on the ever-so-slightly-problematic issue of nationalism.

What I can bring to the table is a bit of personal experience.

See, I was one of the “select group” who took part in the first step of this process. The email, which I fittingly received on 6 February, said this:

Kia ora!

During the last general election you participated along with more than 300,000 New Zealanders in Vote Compass, an initiative ONE News developed in collaboration with prominent New Zealand academics. You are receiving this e-mail because you consented to be contacted for future studies.

There’s been a lot of public discussion about our national identity recently. We thought it was an opportune time to develop a new application aimed at helping individual Kiwis explore their unique fit within the story of New Zealand.

We want your help. We’re inviting you to be part of a select group who can offer a diverse perspective on national identity.

It will take about 20 minutes or so of your time. Please consider helping shape this initiative by participating in this survey. Your responses will determine the makeup of the resulting application.

If you check out fail points 2 and 3 in Tze Ming Mok’s post, what’s interesting is that this passes them. I knew what the survey is intended to do – get a range of perspectives on different issues.  So the inflammatory or biased nature of a lot of the questions didn’t annoy me … well, not that much. I still tweeted about it at length though.

Here’s the thing – when I encountered the same questions one month later as part of the Kiwimeter quiz – which is framed very differently – I chose to stop participating. They struck me as far more wilfully slanted to get a specific reaction.

(I guess my well-filled-in comment box at the end of the precursor survey which noted this was a concern of mine got chucked in the trash.)

Anyway, the point is this: I love this kind of stuff. I’m fascinated by concepts of national identity and how the way we frame issues shapes perception. (You may have noticed.)

So I carefully copied-and-pasted all of the questions into a Word document. And this means I can tell you exactly what they asked then, and how it compares now.

The agree/disagree section

There were a lot more options in the precursor survey – 101 to 24, by my count. All 24 Kiwimeter questions were included in the precursor, with one tiny amendment – “It is important for New Zealand to retain its ties to the Commonwealth” became specifically British Commonwealth in Kiwimeter.

My assumption would be that these were narrowed down to the statements which gave the strongest differentiation between the different “types” of respondent – but I’m no expert! I’ve included the full list of questions at the bottom of the post.

My pride goes all the way to 11 section

This section was in both surveys – pick how proud you are from 1 to 10 about various NZ things like its history, arts and literature, etc.

But the precursor survey didn’t have a “skip” option, and included one item Kiwimeter doesn’t:

Its social welfare system.

Which is … interesting. It’s something I would say forms a strong part of my national identity.

Pick a pretty picture section

Here’s an interesting divergence. In Kiwimeter, you get a selection of four pictures and are asked “Which of the following symbols do you identify most closely with New Zealand?” then “least closely” for the remaining three.

In the precursor, the question was “What level of association to New Zealand do you personally attach to each of the following symbols?” and for each you selected on a scale of -5 (“weak association”) to +5 (“strong association”).

The list of symbols makes for interesting comparison. Both contain:

All Blacks, beach holidays, great outdoors, haka, kiwi, pounamu/greenstone, rugby, silver fern, the Queen (referred to as “Queen Elizabeth II” in the precursor), Union Jack

The precursor also listed:

Aoraki (Mt Cook), baches, beer, fish and chips, hei-tiki, jandals, koru, marae, Marmite, pāua, pavlova, sheep, Sir Edmund Hillary, Southern Cross, waka

No flag, no country section

Exactly the same, but I wanted to make an Eddie Izzard reference.

The extra bits

The precursor survey also contained questions about community. I suspect these contributed strongly to the invention of the “globalist” category:

On a scale of 1 to 10, how closely do you identify with and feel you belong to each of the following: your family, your neighbourhood, a religious or ethnic community, your region, New Zealand, or The World (exciting capitals in original).


How important are each of the following (options: not at all, not very, somewhat, very): family, friends, leisure time, work, politics, religion.

And this one was very interesting to think about:

Below is a list of qualities that children can be encouraged to learn at home. Which, if any, do you consider to be especially important? (Select up to five)

  • Self-expression
  • Feeling of responsibility
  • Imagination
  • Thrift, saving money and things
  • Generosity, unselfishness
  • Obedience
  • Determination, perseverance
  • Hard work
  • Independence
  • Tolerance and respect for other people
  • Religious faith

I’ll admit, I was really disappointed not to see “utter disrespect for authority figures” or “speaking truth to power” in there.

So there we go. If you were wondering how the Kiwimeter sausage was made, there’s the Vote Compass survey horse. What does any of this mean? Buggered if I know, but I figured someone will be able to draw interesting conclusions.

Interestingly, if you click “strongly agree” to everything in the Kiwimeter quiz for the purposes of copy-pasting the questions into a Word document, you get the “Loyalist”/”centre-right” result. You calling the left negative, mate?

Full list of Kiwimeter agree/disagree questions

  • Wealthy people have a greater obligation than everyone else to help those who are in need.
  • We rely too much on science and not enough on faith.
  • The British monarch should no longer be New Zealand’s head of state.
  • Sport is too much a part of New Zealand’s national psyche.
  • Society would be better off if people were more religious.
  • Religion should not have any influence in the affairs of government.
  • Refugees should be welcomed in New Zealand.
  • Nothing brings New Zealanders together like a sporting event.
  • No matter what circumstances you are born into, if you work hard enough you can be as successful as anyone else.
  • New Zealand’s British heritage should be central to its national identity.
  • New Zealand should participate in humanitarian intervention efforts abroad.
  • New Zealand should focus only on domestic, not international, issues.
  • New Zealand is the best country in the world in which to live.
  • New Zealand is not perfect, but its values are superior to others.
  • Most immigrants these days don’t try hard enough to fit into New Zealand society.
  • Māori should not receive any special treatment.
  • Māori culture is something that all New Zealanders can take pride in, no matter their background.
  • Kiwis have a unique set of values that distinguish New Zealand from the rest of the world.
  • It is important for New Zealand to retain its ties to the [British] Commonwealth.
  • In New Zealand, the gap between those with high incomes and those with low incomes is too large.
  • Immigration is a threat to New Zealand’s culture.
  • Good sportsmanship sets New Zealanders apart from other people.
  • All immigrants can retain their cultural values without being any less of a New Zealander.
  • A history of discrimination has created conditions that make it difficult for Māori to be successful.

Excluded Vote Compass precursor survey questions

  • Achieving happiness is the greatest goal in life.
  • All New Zealanders should integrate into a single national culture.
  • Auckland is not representative of the real New Zealand.
  • Aucklanders think they’re better than the rest of New Zealand.
  • Being a New Zealander has absolutely nothing to do with ethnicity.
  • Claims about Māori discrimination are exaggerated.
  • Competition brings out the worst in people.
  • Cultural differences erode rather than strengthen national unity.
  • Cultural diversity enriches New Zealand society.
  • Economic growth should be the top priority for New Zealand, even if the environment suffers.
  • Free trade is a net benefit for New Zealand.
  • Generally speaking, you can trust New Zealanders to do the right thing.
  • Government welfare programs in New Zealand inhibit people from taking responsibility for their own lives.
  • Human beings are largely responsible for global warming.
  • I feel more like a citizen of the world than of New Zealand.
  • Immigrants are as entitled to call themselves New Zealanders as those born here.
  • It is more important to be successful than it is to be happy.
  • It should be compulsory to teach Māori language in school.
  • Life in New Zealand moves too fast these days.
  • Māori and Pākehā cultures should contribute equally to defining New Zealand’s national identity.
  • Māori culture must be privileged over the culture of new immigrants to New Zealand.
  • Māori have fewer opportunities in life than do other New Zealanders.
  • Marriage should only be between a man and a woman.
  • More should be done to accommodate religious minorities in New Zealand.
  • Multiculturalism threatens the prominence of Māori culture in New Zealand.
  • New Zealand doesn’t need feminism.
  • New Zealand has a great deal of influence in world affairs.
  • New Zealand has gone too far in its efforts to preserve the country’s natural environment.
  • New Zealand has strayed too far from its British roots.
  • New Zealand is a Christian nation.
  • New Zealand is too small to effect global change.
  • New Zealand should actively promote its values abroad.
  • New Zealand should align itself more closely with the United States.
  • New Zealand should be a place where the pace of life is slower.
  • New Zealand should foster closer ties with Australia.
  • New Zealand should maintain its nuclear-free status.
  • New Zealand should not be referred to as Aotearoa.
  • New Zealand should only admit immigrants whose values are similar to our own.
  • New Zealand should only admit immigrants whose values are similar to our own.
  • New Zealand should open its borders to help ease the current refugee crisis.
  • New Zealanders are overly critical of the accomplishments of others.
  • New Zealanders don’t need support from the government to be successful.
  • New Zealanders have a collective responsibility to ensure that every Kiwi has a basic standard of living.
  • New Zealanders need to do more to make up for past treatment of Māori.
  • New Zealanders should be more ambitious.
  • New Zealanders should buy local products rather than foreign ones, even if they cost more.
  • New Zealanders should put the interests of society ahead of their own personal gain.
  • New Zealanders spend too much time on leisure and not enough time on work.
  • New Zealanders these days are too easily offended.
  • New Zealanders these days are too materialistic.
  • New Zealanders too often blame society for their problems.
  • New Zealand’s culture is changing too fast.
  • Not everyone has the chance of a good life in New Zealand
  • One has to look outside of Auckland to understand what it means to be a New Zealander.
  • People can only get rich at the expense of others.
  • People should be able to define their own gender.
  • People who belong to different religions are probably just as moral as those who share my beliefs.
  • Political correctness has gone too far in New Zealand.
  • Protecting the environment should be a priority for New Zealand, even if it results in slower economic growth.
  • Regardless of wealth or success, all Kiwis should live modestly.
  • Relative to other countries, New Zealand has very little to be ashamed about.
  • Religious education has no place in state schools.
  • The desire to become rich is incompatible with New Zealand’s values.
  • The economic disparity between urban and rural areas of New Zealand is shrinking.
  • The effects of climate change are exaggerated.
  • The government should compensate Māori for past injustices.
  • The next generation will be much worse off because of this generation’s treatment of the environment.
  • The quarter-acre dream is no longer achieveable for most New Zealanders.
  • The Treaty of Waitangi should be fully recognized in New Zealand law.
  • There should be no limits on freedom of expression, even if it means tolerating hate speech.
  • Today’s New Zealanders should not be held accountable for the wrongdoings of previous generations.
  • Wealthy people are more likely to be happy.
  • When businesses make a lot of money everyone benefits, even the poor.
  • Women and men have already achieved equality in New Zealand.
  • Women and men should share household duties equally.
  • Women are more empowered in New Zealand than in almost any other country in the world.
  • You are not a true New Zealander if you don’t follow rugby.

DUKE: I have questions

[Content note: sexism, transphobia]

I am not outraged, offended, nor trying to censor FREEZEPEACH when it comes to TVNZ’s newly-announced channel, DUKE.

I’m just … puzzled.

I’m puzzled about whether this is a Man Channel or not.

When first announced, though yet unnamed, TVNZ’s marketing was entirely clear:

TVNZ announces new free-to-air channel aimed specifically at men

The channel’s content has been specifically chosen to resonate with a male audience, after market analysis indicated male viewers were seeking “more distinctive content”.

But then you look at the lineup of shows, including Agent Carter, Gotham and Brooklyn Nine-Nine, all shows celebrated for diverse interesting casts and complex storytelling and critique of traditional male-focused storytelling – and you think, “in what way is this a lineup skewed towards men?”

But then they told us it was called DUKE and everyone went “okay so it sounds like a slang term for shit combined with a Lynx deodorant fragrance, pretty manly.” And TV One referred to the new channel as their “little brother”.

But then they insisted via Twitter that this was all a misunderstanding and of course girls would be allowed in the clubhouse.

And then they rolled out the hilarious transphobic advertising.

duke transphobia

See, it’s funny because they aggressively marketed themselves as a channel for men and then people thought this was excluding women but then someone made a joke about forcing people to live as the wrong gender which is hilarious because lol trans people.

So it’s a man channel for manly men, and my thoughts when TVNZ first announced it seem pretty on the nose:

I’m puzzled as to who the heck thought this was a good idea.

Although Alex Casey of The Spinoff has some great suggestions.

I’m puzzled about the weird naivete of TVNZ’s market researchers.

That first announcement was just weird – apparently men are looking for “more distinctive content” than women, who presumably like bland boring pap content.

Then there’s this defence of DUKE’s targeting from Jeff Latch of TVNZ:

“When you look at all of the big networks, they’re all female focused, female-skewed.”

“This one swings the other way,” he said.

“TV2 has a female-to-male ratio of about 60:40, TVOne and TV3 are at about 55:45 whereas Prime, aside from events like the Rugby World Cup, is more 50:50.”

I am not a social scientist but good gravy there are problems with this line of “reasoning”. Like the fact women are a majority of the population, and we’re a demographic more likely to be at home during the day watching TV because of patriarchy.

It doesn’t follow at all that this means current TV content is deliberately “skewed” towards women viewers. Has TVNZ really created an entirely new channel because a couple of dudes in focus groups complained that they were sick of their girlfriend watching The Bachelor all the time?

I’m puzzled by how massively they missed the point.

Here’s the thing. Free-to-air TV is struggling around the world, for many reasons, including illegal downloading and legal streaming services. But people do still watch TV. On the exact same day TVNZ announced they were launching a Man Channel I was whining on Twitter because I nearly missed the latest episode of Supergirl on TV2 due to crummy advertising and a MySky botch.

You know what’s going to drive me to download shows? When I miss them on free-to-air because you don’t make it easy for me to know what’s on. Or when you don’t show them at all.

Look at the “distinctive content” TVNZ was seeking for DUKE. Look at NFL, professional wrestling, Brooklyn Nine Nine, Gotham, Agent Carter (I’m ignoring the ridiculous men-with-heavy-machinery offerings because I already fill that need with Gold Rush). First off, this is basically a channel designed for me and we all know I’m a rabid man-hating feminist.

Secondly … this is exactly the kind of content our free-to-air channels should have been showing for years but haven’t. Sorry for the overuse of italics, but I could’ve told TVNZ that this was the kind of content they needed to be showing off the top of my head.

It’s so easy to blame streaming and downloads, but the fact is that free-to-air primetime TV in New Zealand has been, in recent years, a quagmire of cooking shows, cooking shows, renovation shows, terrible NZ knockoffs of American dating shows, cooking shows, terrible NZ knockoffs of American talent shows which we pioneered in the first place, renovation shows, and endless reruns of Friends, The Simpsons, and Everybody Loves Raymond.

Gosh, why would people switch off that magnificent bounty?

Now you offer cutting-edge comedy, massive pop culture icons, and previously-unavailable sports events … and you bloody ruin it by playing juvenile “ew girls are gross, we need to hide in our man-caves watching man-shows with our man-friends” games?

alison brie argh

TVNZ, my darling. You didn’t need to market DUKE as “a channel for manly men with their distinctive man interests”. You just need to tell people “Hey! Here are a bunch of sports you love, which have never been free-to-air. Here’s a selection of premium TV shows at a minimal delay from their US broadcast, which you’ll put up with for the convenience of not having to find a good torrent or canvass Twitter to figure out which streaming service has it.”

Here’s my dilemma. DUKE may well be a success, despite its erratic and confusing marketing, because it contains good content. Which will just reinforce this ridiculous idea that in 2016, we need to cling to a black-and-white gender binary to sell products.

I want to be optimistic though. Maybe they’ll pull a season-2 “replace the main actor and introduce a cute child character” rebrand at some point and DUKE will become TVNZ Awesome or something like that.

I will be wanting a cut, though.

(Please note: Not all men have penises, not everyone with a penis is a man, gender isn’t a binary, and that’s the entire problem!)