Home > Social Issues, The Body Politic > Welcome to George Orwell’s New Zealand, circa 1984

Welcome to George Orwell’s New Zealand, circa 1984



Winston dialled ‘back numbers’ on the telescreen and called for the appropriate issues of The Times, which slid out of the pneumatic tube after only a few minutes’ delay. The messages he had received referred to articles or news items which for one reason or another it was thought necessary to alter, or, as the official phrase had it, to rectify. For example, it appeared from The Times of the seventeenth of March that Big Brother, in his speech of the previous day, had predicted that the South Indian front would remain quiet but that a Eurasian offensive would shortly be launched in North Africa. As it happened, the Eurasian Higher Command had launched its offensive in South India and left North Africa alone. It was therefore necessary to rewrite a paragraph of Big Brother’s speech, in such a way as to make him predict the thing that had actually happened. Or again, The Times of the nineteenth of December had published the official forecasts of the output of various classes of consumption goods in the fourth quarter of 1983, which was also the sixth quarter of the Ninth Three-Year Plan. Today’s issue contained a statement of the actual output, from which it appeared that the forecasts were in every instance grossly wrong. Winston’s job was to rectify the original figures by making them agree with the later ones. As for the third message, it referred to a very simple error which could be set right in a couple of minutes. As short a time ago as February, the Ministry of Plenty had issued a promise (a ‘categorical pledge’ were the official words) that there would be no reduction of the chocolate ration during 1984. Actually, as Winston was aware, the chocolate ration was to be reduced from thirty grammes to twenty at the end of the present week. All that was needed was to substitute for the original promise a warning that it would probably be necessary to reduce the ration at some time in April.

P1, Ch4, “1984”, by George Orwell


Published around 1948, George Orwell’s vision of a nightmare  future included a vast “Ministry of Truth” where history, newspapers, and other information was re-written to suit  the needs of the ruling  Party. Anything remotely  embarressing to The Party was excised; re-written; and re-issued.

It made the State appear all-powerful; the Party infallible.

Here in New Zealand, the ruling National Party is not above borrowing from that Orwellian future – or is it now the present?




No doubt when the next Police stats on crime are issued, we will see a remarkable drop in violence and/or domestic crimes in this country?

Which National will then trumpet as proof that their so-called “tough on  crime” policies are working and – Lo and Behold! – stats show a drop in violence!

Hasn’t Dear Leader done well! Doubleplusgood, as they said in Orwell’s “1984”.

Orwell even described the process of re-writing history,


As soon as Winston had dealt with each of the messages, he clipped his speakwritten corrections to the appropriate copy of The Times and pushed them into the pneumatic tube. Then, with a movement which was as nearly as possible unconscious, he crumpled up the original message and any notes that he himself had made, and dropped them into the memory hole to be devoured by the flames…

Even the written instructions which Winston received, and which he invariably got rid of as soon as he had dealt with them, never stated or implied that an act of forgery was to be committed: always the reference was to slips, errors, misprints, or misquotations which it was necessary to put right in the interests of accuracy.


Acting police minister Chester Borrows says that the new “accounting system” is geared  to bring New Zealand into line with how family violence was being reported in other countries, such as Australia,

What commentators are failing to account for is that there is no single crime called ‘domestic violence’, and that the police now include in the category of domestic violence a much wider range of crimes than the previous narrow focus on physical assaults. These changes follow international best practice – they are not hiding the figures, they are about improving Police response to domestic violence.”


Of course, Minister.  No one is “forging” figures here, right?

What is happening is simply that  “… it was necessary to put right in the interests of accuracy. ”

Big Brother would be happy.



= fs =

  1. Deborah Kean
    18 April 2012 at 4:26 pm

    Oh yes, exactly! (I’ve noticed since 2003, various things drop down the memory hole, in terms of international incidents… I used to keep a list, and of some things I still do) but nothing so blatant!
    The latest I remember was the man in France, who killed 7 people, the first few being Muslim men – then, after he attacked a Jewish school, he suddenly became a well-known to the security services, Arab terrorist, whereas days previously, he’d been an unknown right winger…
    Not relevant to New Zealand, or is it? Still scary though… and can you believe it happened only last month?

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