The approved woke way to refer to New Zealand today is not New Zealand but Aotearoa, this being the original Maori name for the place before it was invaded by all those dreaded white settler colonialists. But one day soon, will it be colonised all over again and forcibly renamed once more, this time as ‘Crinkley Bottom’?
That was the implication of certain stories appearing in the British and Kiwi press recently about the former BBC Radio DJ and Deal Or No Deal presenter Noel Edmonds, now a New Zealand resident, who has been using his reputed £80m-plus fortune to buy up swathes of land and property around the picturesque rural village of Ngatimoti on NZ’s South Island.
One of Noel’s most popular old shows was Noel’s House Party, an early evening Saturday night entertainment variety programme, allegedly once “the most important show on the BBC”. In it, Noel posed as the Lord of the Manor in a cardboard mansion supposedly located in the fictional English village of Crinkley Bottom, regularly visited by low-rent British celebrities like Frank Carson and Jimmy Cricket, together with the all-time eldritch horror that was Mr. Blobby.
As Edmonds has been splashing his cash on transforming parts of Ngatimoti into what does sound alarmingly like a real-life version of Crinkley Bottom, not entirely unlike the now-defunct actual off-screen theme-park version which operated in Somerset between 1994 and 1997, an amusing multi-part investigation into Edmonds’s antics in increasingly Left-leaning NZ online news outlet Stuff has elicited quotes from outraged locals to the effect that “I just feel like he’s a coloniser and… he’s come in like the Lord of the Manor”.
Can Noel Edmonds really be characterised as a ‘coloniser’? Well, these photos of him posing outside some of his remodelled NZ properties in apparent British Empire-era fancy dress do make him look a little like the light entertainment world’s answer to Cecil Rhodes.
Yet, whilst most British media outlets who picked up on Stuff’s scoop treated it as pure comic relief, the original story seemingly came with another agenda to it too – namely, to discredit people with ‘unacceptable’ opinions, like lockdown-doubters, climate-sceptics or anti-globalist campaigners, as being automatic lunatics by association with Noel, a noted eccentric.
Don’t forget, this is the man who has claimed it is possible to gain anything you like just by wishing for it, said his dead parents’ souls often manifest on his own shoulders as living “melon-sized” spheres of light, and even established special radio stations aimed at plants, pets and horses (sadly not called Noel’s Horse Party). As photographic evidence in Stuff also established, Noel today also walks everywhere clad in odd, non-matching shoes and socks, just because he can.
What exactly has Noel been up to? Basically, he has been using his millions to have fun, which in these Puritan days can no longer be allowed. In the first part of its exposé, Stuff revealed how Noel has sought to transform his main NZ estate into a slice of fake ‘Olde England’ crossed with a Carry On film, establishing his own pub called The Bugger Inn, at which you can buy drinks laced with double-entendres: one beverage is called Dickens Cider, billed as “the ladies’ favourite”.
According to one outraged local quoted by Stuff: “It’s real Benny Hill stuff. It’s not acceptable any more.” Says who? Says the local anonymous self-appointed arbiter of metropolitan taste and decency. When subsequently contacted by the Times, Noel said most locals liked such “Kiwi humour”, enjoyed frequenting his pub and restaurant, and thought he had contributed something positive to the area.
Being a neighbour of Noel’s does sound uncomfortably like living next door to Colin Hunt from The Fast Show, however, and some more serious allegations – which he denies – have been made about him supposedly pressuring local residents to sell him their land, no doubt using the skills once honed during his old Deal Or No Deal days.
Nonetheless, Stuff’s main complaint about Edmonds seems more to do with what are now deemed his breaches of polite ‘correct’ opinion. He made a joke out of being unable to pronounce Ngatimoti’s name at first, for instance (“I made it sound like a Japanese motorbike”), and even quipped he would henceforth be calling it “Noel-timoti”: shades of Zimbabwe being inked in as Rhodesia on colonial-era maps, perhaps? Noel even pronounced himself and his wife kaitiaki, or ‘Guardians of the Valley’ due to their expensive renovation efforts, a piece of linguistic cultural appropriation from the Maori also deemed “offensive” (by a local white woman).
But more significant was surely the way in which Edmonds’ eccentricity appeared to be deliberately pathologised in order to thereby discredit certain other members of the local community. In its initial lead-in, Stuff was careful to assert Ngatimoti was a “diverse” place – usually a good thing, except that by “diverse” it meant some locals “live in buses” and “hold alternative views”. What kind of “alternative views”? Well, the area overall “had one of the lowest uptakes of the Covid vaccine [in NZ] with just 74% of people having their first shot, according to health data”. Remember, this is the first thing the reader learns about in this article, not anything about Noel Edmonds at all – the scene is clearly being set.
In the second part of its investigation, Stuff focused upon a dispute between Edmonds and the local council over whether or not a public cycle path could be built on his new property. Edmonds objected to this, allegedly ejecting local planners from his land with the words: “You two need your heads cut off and your brains replaced… you are our enemies… As we say in Britain, ‘on yer bike’.”
According to one woman harangued as such, Edmonds had claimed that, as she was (or so he thought) a public employee and he was a taxpayer, he was the “master” here and she the “servant” – more supposedly ‘unacceptable’ sentiments, even though many ordinary taxpayers might easily agree with them. Many ordinary taxpayers might also agree with Mr. Edmonds that, in an area with high business failure rates, “spending taxpayers’ money, millions of it, on a cycle path is possibly an inappropriate use of public funds”.
The path eventually ended up built on land just outside Edmonds’s own, but not before he had called an “emergency” public meeting with local residents which in an earlier report Stuff had chosen to paint largely as a meeting of conspiracy nuts and political extremists.
I gain the impression many of the 350 persons present simply thought the scheme a pointless waste of money, but the report’s focus was upon certain individuals who erroneously linked it with 15 Minute City schemes, the UN’s Agenda 2030 plan and various other Government-backed anti-car measures, which many view as an arrogant elite-led means of controlling the public rather than simply helping combat climate change and air pollution, as is the official line. As one attendee told Stuff, “Reference to conspiracy theories is an easy headline, but it’s neither helpful nor accurate”. But, then they went away and made such references anyway.
Blobby vs the Blob
In Stuff’s most recent investigation into Edmonds, mention was further made of the presence of a member of the deeply fringe Covid-sceptical NZ Loyal Party, who it was specifically mentioned “was seen talking to” Edmonds afterwards – NZ Loyal received the most votes in Ngatimoti during the last national election.
The NZ Loyal Party’s leader Liz Gunn is rather strange, once claiming the earthquake which hit NZ in 2021 represented “Mother Earth” rising up against the “evil plan” of Governmental vaccination targets, and calling such injections “jab-rape”.
There are perfectly legitimate reasons to be sceptical about such topics without also thinking needles cause earthquakes. Edmonds himself, when interviewed by Stuff, expressed initial enthusiasm for anti-car plans on environmental grounds, before then realising they would “mean the end” of his rural pub and restaurant “because no-one would be able to get here”, which sounds like a sensible practical public transport consideration to me, not a paranoid rant.
Did Edmonds himself support the NZ Loyal Party? He professed broad ignorance of NZ’s political scene as a newcomer, but said he did believe in freedom of debate. Stuff claimed Edmonds had been funding a now-defunct website, Wake Up Kiwis, which contained “misinformation about Covid-vaccines”, although it didn’t specify of what kind. Was he a conspiracy theorist, then? “What’s a conspiracy theory?” Noel asked. Nowadays, it’s anything which questions the official line of things, evidently.
Steven Tucker is a journalist and the author of over 10 books, the latest being Hitler’s and Stalin’s Misuse of Science: When Science Fiction Was Turned Into Science Fact by the Nazis and the Soviets, which is out now.