A worldwide surge in populist politics has breathed new life into the vestiges of New Zealand’s far right. Kirsty Johnston reports from within the fringe. When outrage over racist posters at Auckland University hit headlines in late March, their white supremacist creators were elated. They’d tricked the media! Their message was being heard! Their Facebook page was up to almost 100 likes! Members of the Western Guard, the supremacists’ secret online group, began to plan a second wave. They decided to mobilise their new recruits and plaster campuses nationwide. They made signs for Nelson, for New Plymouth, for Taupo. “White Lives Matter” the templates read. “You can prevent white genocide. Your country needs YOU!” As more recruits joined in the coming days, energy built. The fledgling club discussed its limits – were gays allowed? No way, the hive mind said. They decreed it was probably best not to use ethnic slurs in public “just yet”.
The more experienced “brothers” shared tips on making flour and water paste to put up posters; and how to avoid being caught by police or passers-by.
By Saturday, they were ready.
“Heil Victory,” a Facebook user named Dexter Olsen wrote on the group page. Like almost everyone in the Western Guard, he used a fake profile to discuss his far-right views. “Tonight, we show those in power that we will not sit idly by and allow our country to be delivered the same fate as our brothers and sisters in Europe. To you, my fellow men, I wish you luck in this endeavor.”