Interestingly, the Electoral Profiles do not distinguish between atheist, agnostic and non-religious, lumping all such positions under the appellation of ‘non-religious’. This might not have a major impact here, and it is likely that future versions do make such a distinction.
The non-religious especially didn’t seem to think much of the Labour Party. The correlation between being non-religious and voting Labour in 2014 was -0.50. The major reason for this is the large numbers of Pacific Islanders that vote Labour, because the vast majority of them are religious.
The sort of young person who has grown up after New Zealand made forced religious instruction illegal tends to be a Green voter. The correlation between being non-religious and voting Green in 2014 was 0.56.
Taken with other statistics, that suggests that the bulk of Generation X – the first really post-religious generation in New Zealand – are Green voters.
These two statistics, taken together, suggest a clear fault line between the shared territories of the Labour and Green parties. The former is very religious whereas the latter abhors it. Grimly, the way that this is likely to be resolved is by a further marginalisation of the highly religious working-class Pacific Islanders.
The parties that get heavy support from Maoris did not have significant correlations with being non-religious, but they were positive. The correlation between being non-religious and voting New Zealand First in 2014 was 0.12, with voting Internet MANA it was 0.14, and with voting Maori Party it was 0.20.
This reflects how Maoris have generally grown out of religious belief but not to the same extent that young Kiwis of European descent have.
People with no religion don’t seem to think much of the far-right parties either. The correlation between having no religion and voting Conservative in 2014 was -0.04, and with voting ACT in 2014 was -0.23.
Probably the reason for this latter correlation is that the non-religious young middle-class people tend to vote Green, and these heavily outweigh those who vote ACT. Moreover, a very large proportion of ACT voters are from North East Asia and consequently are (at least nominally) Buddhists.
Perhaps demonstrative of a shared interest in free-thinking, there was a significant positive correlation between being non-religious and voting Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party in 2014 – this was 0.34.
After all, it’s plausible that if a person rejects the propaganda of one pack of aggressive liars in the form of the priesthood, they might do the some with the propaganda of another pack of aggressive liars in the form of the politicians who have prohibited cannabis.
There was also a significant positive correlation between having no religion and turnout rate in 2014 – this was 0.24. This was probably because of the large degree of disenfranchisment among highly religious Pacific Islander immigrants, as well as the large number of Maoris, in particular solo mothers who are doing it hard and have become religious primarily for the sake of social support.
This article is an excerpt from Understanding New Zealand, by Dan McGlashan, published by VJM Publishing in the winter of 2017.