Politicians on screen we won't forget

Last updated 16:35 21/07/2014
 Robert Muldoon
NZ On Screen

MEMORABLE: Robert Muldoon drunkenly announcing a snap election in 1984.

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We see the faces of politicians everyday, but there are some moments that are unforgettable.

NZ On Screen has relaunched its Politics Collection of documentaries, interviews and other memorable moments from New Zealand's political history.

Here are our favourite clips:

Brave journalist takes on Muldoon

Tonight - Robert Muldoon interview

It's one of the country's most notorious television interviews. The year was 1976, and journalist Simon Walker was asking then Prime Minister Robert Muldoon about New Zealand's vulnerability to a Russian nuclear attack. But Muldoon quickly became angry at Walker for not sticking to the scripted questions. "I will not have some smart-alec interviewer changing the rules halfway through," he said. It was this ruthlessness that made many reporters terrified of Muldoon.

Frost/Kirk

Frost Over New Zealand - The Leaders

English journalist David Frost was a superstar in the media world, best known for his 1977 interviews with US President Richard Nixon. But before he took on Nixon, he took on Kiwi Prime Minister Norman Kirk in an early 70s series filmed down under. Kirk was reportedly so nervous about the interview he told his secretary to call a halt to it if things got out of hand. The end result was a success, however.

Muldoon drunkenly announces snap election 

Eyewitness News - Snap Election Setup

It was June 14, 1984 and Muldoon had been drinking. He headed out into a Beehive hallway where he was met by reporters, and shocked everyone - including then National party president Sue Wood - by announcing a snap election to be held in a month's time. His glazed expression and slurring led to the moment quickly becoming iconic, now referred to as the "schnapps election".

"I love you, Mr Lange" 

The 1984 Leaders' Debate

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Things were about to go from bad to worse for Muldoon. It was six days before the snap election, and tension between him and opposition leader David Lange was at an all-time high. When they faced off for a TVNZ leader's debate, it was clear Lange had gained the upper hand. At the end of the programme, a visibly defeated Muldoon muttered the famous line: "I love you, Mr Lange." Lange went on to win a landslide victory.

Punched on the nose by Bob Jones 

Eyewitness News - Bob Jones punches reporter Rod Vaughan

In July 1985, New Zealand Party leader Bob Jones shocked everyone by announcing the party was taking an 18-month recess. Jones then promptly took off on a fishing trip near Turangi, so TVNZ chartered a helicopter to reach him for comment. As reporter Rod Vaughan approached him, Jones came rushing out of the bushes and punched him on the nose. The incident was caught on camera, at least until the cameraman was also knocked to the ground by Jones.

John Key before he was famous

Close Up - Big Dealers (feat. John Key)

It was 1987, and Key was a fresh-faced 25-year-old foreign exchange dealer. Current affairs programme Close Up treats us to a rare insight into his pre-Prime Minister life, set to some jazzy 80's music. We see the young, bespectacled Key manning the phones, on the squash court, and being woken up in the middle of the night to close a deal. Even wife Bronagh makes an appearance, talking about how she puts up with the hardships of John's job.

Helen Clark's luscious locks

Nationwide: Labour Party Youth Conference

In this footage from 1974, a 24-year-old Helen Clark is shown speaking at the annual Young Labour conference, chairing a session about abortion law reform. A long-haired Clark is clearly already an accomplished speaker, despite only having entered politics that year. She would become the country's first elected female Prime Minister 25 years later.

Reality TV MP 

Fish out of Water


Before there was Survivor, there was Fish Out of Water, a 1997 reality show made by TV3. In it, six Kiwi teenagers were marooned on Rakitu Island for eight days, including future National MP for Auckland Central Nikki Kaye. Kaye takes to the challenge admirably, catching fish and helping the group survive in a leadership role that would put her in good steed for her future portfolio as Minister of Civil Defence.

- Stuff

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