After 737 columns over 14+ years, Bruce Bisset has written his final weekly ‘Left Hook’ column for Hawke’s Bay Today. A loss for that publication and to a community whose mental health requires constant prodding and political provocation.

I don’t think I’ve missed many of Bruce’s shrewdly-crafted columns and turns-of-phrase over the years, none of which — dare I say — left readers wondering where he stood on the matter at hand. I particularly welcomed his observations on our councils’ mischief and misadventures and the environmental challenges facing our region and nation. And admired his visceral rejection of greed.

I’d put myself in the 80:20% ratio of philosophical agreement/disagreement with Bruce, the latter generally stemming from my lingering acceptance of free markets (but not unbridled) and profit motivation (but not profiteering, human or resource exploitation, or un-taxed wealth).

Back in July, for a BayBuzz article that became Re-boot or Revolution, I asked a few of Hawke’s Bay’s more provocative commentators, including Bruce, for their thoughts of our post-Covid future.

After taking his customary whack at capitalism, Bruce wrote: “What we need – as a country and a planet, not just Hawke’s Bay – is to re-focus on a ‘degrowth’ economy, one that centralises people and communities and, preferably, does away with the profit motive altogether.”

“People see this ‘pastoral fortress mentality’ as somehow bad. On the contrary: it’s a living future, as opposed to a dead one. And New Zealand is one of very few places in the world where it could be successfully done – to sustainable, lasting effect.”

He continued: “The problem with – ‘Yes the system’s bad, but we can fix it if we take more care’ … is that it’s predicated on the basis of endless resources. Driving off the cliff in a Tesla instead of a Chevy. It also relies on another little thing we have no more of … time. Because regardless of the make of vehicle, we are already over the cliff, and falling. All we can do now is try to make the landing as soft as possible.”

“But instead of ‘deploying a parachute’, we’re on a path to ‘hit the ground hard’ … “The world’s resources are both finite and rapidly being exhausted through capitalist greed. This makes collapse to barbarism likely within our grandchildren’s lifetimes.”

And his final words: “IF you’re at least trying to make a difference, at base, that’s all any of us can do. That, and hold to a smidgen of hope.”

I’m sure we’ll hear more from Bruce, because he cares.

But meantime, Bruce writes in his last ‘Left Hook’: “I have songs to sing, poems to recite, books to author; plenty to keep me busily creative – but for myself, for a change.”

So go be creative Bruce, but remember, the door is always open at BayBuzz when the urge to ‘prick consciences’ becomes irresistible.

Join the Conversation


  1. It just won’t be the same without Bruce’s challenging and insightful columns – but a re-focus for him is well-deserved!

  2. Right, I’m cancelling my subscription to HB Today! Left Hook is the only thing I read regularly (and the obituaries) and I will miss his punchy commentary so much! PLEASE write for Bay Buzz Bruce and thank you :)

  3. I will really miss Bruce’s columns also. My first read in the paper. Reassuring to have someone “like minded” who thinks the earth should come first.

  4. I saved this quote from Left Hook: ‘Arguably the greatest conspiracy theory is the one that has mainstream education deliberately becoming so inept as to produce a mass of ordinary folk so ignorant they’ll allow the continued full-scale destruction of the planet for the sake of an inherently worthless fiction – money’. Thanks Bruce for constantly reminding us of the elephant in the room.

  5. Looking forward to the songs, poems and books. Go well Bruce and thanks for providing meaningful, relevant and poignant comment

  6. Sad to see your Left Hook gone, Bruce and thanks for being a voice for the environment – social and natural. Just when the Left has their loudest voices in government now you bugger off into the sunset! Hope you will find other ways to agitate!
    And Tom, why dont you do a column – it wont be “from the Left” but your environmental views are on serious issues that need to be discussed.

  7. Thanks for your discerning and insightful commentaries over the years. For change to happen each of us only need to face what is actually happening without justifying and condemning. You’re a Noam Chomsky of Hawkes Bay, NZ and the World.

  8. gosh! how nice. but if you’re trying to make me feel guilty, it’s not (really) working. however i shall keep Tom’s invitation in mind for those times when the demons need exercising. thanks all!

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