Complacent Nation

Complacent Nation

‘We have become a society where we place insufficient value on democratic rights because we have taken them for granted for longer than is safe.’

New Zealanders are too complacent about the continuing erosion of their right to know what government is doing on their behalf. Political risk has become a primary consideration in whether official information requests will be met, and successive governments have allowed free speech rights to be overridden.

Drawing on decades of experience as a journalist and newspaper editor, Gavin Ellis chronicles these patterns of erosion. It is time, he argues, for New Zealanders to reaffirm their democratic rights or risk further deterioration to freedom of speech and our civic knowledge.

What are BWB Texts?

BWB Texts are short books on big subjects by great New Zealand writers. Spanning contemporary issues, history and memoir, new BWB Texts are released regularly, and the series now amounts to well over fifty works.

All recently published BWB Texts can be purchased in print and digital formats using the ‘Buy’ or ‘Preorder’ buttons on this page. You can also subscribe to the series – a great gift idea! Find more information about subscription offers here.

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Print publication:
Ebook publication: Aug 2016
Pages: 152
RRP: $14.99
ISBN: 9780947492946
ISTC: A0220160000000D8
DOI: 10.7810/9780947492946

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'Editorial: Whatever the factors in switching people off elections, just get out and vote' The Press, 4 October 2016

Listen to Gavin Ellis's interview with Sam Smith, 95.b FM, 20 September 2016

Listen to James Dann's review of Complacent Nation, RDU 98.5 FM, 7 September 2016

'NZ Politics Daily: 15 recent stories about democracy and integrity in New Zealand' Bryce Edwards, National Business Review, 25 August 2016

'Gavin Ellis: NZ lacks safeguards against a disproportionate response to an act of terror', Gavin Ellis, Dominion Post, 23 August 2016

'Kicking against complacency', Gavin Ellis on Mediawatch, Radio New Zealand, 21 August 2016

'Gavin Ellis on the slow deterioration of New Zealand's freedom of speech', Gavin Ellis, The Spinoff, 19 August 2016

'Chief's "muzzle memo" disturbing - Dr Gavin Ellis', Kelsey Wilkie, Waikato Times, 18 August 2016

Listen to Gavin Ellis speaking on Nine to Noon, Radio New Zealand, 16 August 2016

'Comment: Are Kiwis too complacent?', Gavin Ellis, The Press, 15 August 2016

Watch an interview with Gavin Ellis on Q+A, TVNZ, 7 August 2016


'Gavin Ellis is the former editor of the NZ Herald, and a regular commentator on RNZ’s Nine to Noon, who is able to blend practical print media experience with some theoretical rigour. This is an excellent example of an extended essay, in a new digestible form, which BWB seems to have perfected.' 'Book Review: Complacent Nation', Simon Boyce, Booksellers NZ Blog, 6 September 2016