Prime Minister Kennedy School University Class of ’23 Saw Kudos become Chaos
When former New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern was appointed to several Harvard University Kennedy School fellowships she could hardly have dreamed that Harvard would become that same year the epicentre of global intelligentsia class warfare.
Harvard’s dealings with New Zealand have been immense and quite literally down to earth.
Harvard has been the major foreign investor in forestry and dairy farms in quite recent years.
It controlled what is considered the largest planted forest anywhere, the Kaingaroa Forest in the North Island.
Harvard then acquired immense tracts of dairy farming in the South Island.
Not so well known is that Harvard’s “external” investing was managed from New Zealand and with New Zealand agribusiness specialists managing and directing it based in New Zealand and operating from Harvard itself.
Since the glory days early in the new millennium Harvard has retreated from much of its investment in forestry in and around the North Island’s Central Plateau.
A particular problem was legal access to forestry internal trucking roads.
While forestry lost some of its early gloss Harvard University’s colossal and little-perceived planned long term stake in New Zealand dairy farming seemed to appear increasingly promising.
For example an unexpected development in the Central Plateau while Harvard was in full surge in investing in it was the conversion of pine forestry plantations into dairy farms.
The upheavals in only recent weeks at Harvard now offer an explanation why the university pulled out of the dairy sector here.
The explanation is that dairy as the millennium moved on became increasingly prone to accusations that it by definition conflicted with Harvard’s by now flourishing cultural policies.
Cows became the focus of the emitting into the atmosphere of greenhouse gases.
The acute progressivism revealed now at its rawest at Harvard points to an accelerating momentum of the anti-cow campaign dating to the abandonment of the immense New Zealand dairy farming investment.
This now revealed susceptibility meant that the university at this time felt itself compelled to quit anything at all identified as conflicting with utter adherence to contemporary mores and this included eliminating ruminants.
The very large scale intervention by Harvard University in the primary sector in New Zealand was an overlooked text book example of intergenerational or very long term investing.
The New Zealand managers who drove the investing scheme in both hemispheres are now retired.
In contrast the much more visible connection between the South Seas and the university became personified by the appointment of Dame Jacinda (pictured) to fellowships at Harvard’s Kennedy School.
No single institution in the English-speaking world evoked the detached patrician prestige of Harvard..
Parking a career in the Harvard Yard was the touchstone of anyone’s CV and especially so if they intended to walk the world stage. .
Yet in just a few days the halo of pristine elegance became irrevocably smeared as the university was revealed as just one more institutional participant in the twisting and turning inherent in compromising with what has become a bare knuckle clash of cultures.
Instead of being above the battle the university was immersed in it, central to it, even generating and sustaining it.
Among those who selected Harvard as their pathway to an even greater participation on the world stage was former New Zealand prime minister Dame Jacinda Ardern now freshly ennobled.
Dame Jacinda’s trademark internationally is as an exponent even the leader in the applied empathetic political navigation to avoid exactly the type of mass interpersonal ruckus that Harvard now drifted into.
Her Harvard tour of duty at the Kennedy School, itself a blending of politico-academic superlatives, was twinned and timed geopolitically with her role as a trustee of Earthshot an exalted promotional ritual.
Though associated with the British Royal Family the environmental kudos scheme is in fact run by a collection of cross-government organisations and philanthropies. Among these coincidentally is a Kennedy foundation.
It is now almost 400 years since John Harvard bequeathed his library and real estate and thus founded the university.
Few could have seen how at this very late stage the university could have become such a visible hub for every single element of today’s applied intellectual class warfare in the West.
Mt Olympus overnight became transformed into a seething, sulphurous brawling volcano of resentment as the most entitled and privileged broke cover and revealed the extent of the squabbles long hidden behind those so recently-revered ivy-clad walls.
All this overshadows the era in which New Zealand became the international focus for what was described in management schools at the cusp of the present millennium as intergenerational investing.