Top 10: Recent political gaffes

03:06, Jun 05 2014
Political downfalls
Nick Smith.
Political downfalls
John Banks.
Political downfalls
Maurice Williamson.
Political downfalls
Aaron Gilmore.
Political downfalls
Peter Dunne.
Political downfalls
Judith Collins.
Political downfalls
David Shearer.
Political downfalls
Brendan Horan.
Political downfalls
Claudette Hauiti.
Richard Prosser.

To err is human but sometimes politicians take it to a whole new level. Here are the top political misfires of recent times.


After achieving celebrity status courtesy of his "big gay rainbow" speech in support of the legalisation of same-sex marriage last year, Maurice Williamson in May became the latest of Prime Minister John Key's ministers to fall from grace.

He resigned his ministerial portfolios after making what Key called a "serious error of judgement" in calling the police to inquire about a charge laid against a businessman and National Party donor.

Williamson said he was not trying to interfere with the process, just ensuring the police were on solid ground, but it was a case of another one bites the dust. 



In Britain they talk about the number of days a minister can remain in the headlines before they have to resign for the good of the party.

Some give the beleaguered minister a week, others two. Lucky for Judith Collins we aren't in the UK, or, as Winston Peters promised, she would have been "gone by Monday".

She has been in the big type since March when she first denied a conflict of interest over dairy exporter Oravida - of which her husband is a director - having had dinner with company executives and a Chinese border official while visiting China last October.

After the wheels began to fall off the bus in May Collins took some time out, and has resolved to avoid Twitter, which Key said was full of "trolls and bottom-feeders", anyway.


NZ First MP Richard Prosser made international headlines when he wrote in his regular column in Investigate magazine that all young Muslim men, or those who "look" Muslim, should be banned from flying on Western airlines.

Prosser went on to say New Zealanders' rights were being "denigrated by a sorry pack of misogynist troglodytes from Wogistan, threatening our way of life and security of travel in the name of their stone age religion, its barbaric attitudes towards women, democracy, and individual choice".

According to Prosser, "Abdul" should not be allowed to fly, and should "go ride a camel" instead. The column was heavily criticised by the Government, Opposition parties, and the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

Prosser initially refused to apologise, but later admitted the article lacked balance and apologised for any offence caused by the remarks. 


Brendan Horan was expelled from NZ First in December 2012 after being accused of taking money from his dying mother's bank account and spending it at the TAB.

Since then, Horan has remained in Parliament as an independent MP, much to the disgust of party leader Winston Peters, as Horan's position was by virtue of being a member of NZ First, which he no longer was after being dumped faster than a hot potato. 


His hair is defying gravity, the rest of him is just defying the odds. Peter Dunne resigned as a Revenue Minister last year amid the scandal over the leaked Kitteridge Report, but has been returned to Key's fold as Minister of Internal Affairs.

Dunne earns another mention for effectively becoming an independent MP after his United Future Party was deregistered in June 2013 as the party did not have the required 500 members. The Electoral Commission reregistered the party last August. 


After becoming an embarrassment to the National Party following a drunken night out in Hanmer Springs where he abused a waiter, allegedly calling him a dickhead, List MP Aaron Gilmore resigned.

The shamed MP later faced the media, apologising by saying "if there was a dickhead . . . it was me".

After a couple of weeks of reflection, Gilmore launched a blog where he posts his thoughts and analysis on topics including current affairs and the economy.


Gilmore's replacement, National List MP Claudette Hauiti seemed to have missed the memo that when you are in charge of taxpayer dollars, it is best not to spend them on anything questionable.

Hauiti, pleading ignorance of the rules, employed her wife in her electorate office in Auckland, thinking Nadine Mau would be good for the job. The move breached Parliament's rules on employing spouses, partners or children, and Mau was dismissed when the situation was discovered. 


Then-Labour leader David Shearer's stunt in bringing two dead snapper into Parliament during a discussion about National's controversial snapper quotas has become synonymous with his demise in the role.

Shearer resigned when he realised he did not have the support of his caucus, and the fish have not been seen since.

Shearer's replacement, David Cunliffe, is not enjoying much more success in the role, however. Poll numbers for Cunliffe as preferred prime minister are now lower than Shearer's ever were, just months out from the general election. Snapper may be the least of the Cunliffe's concerns. 


ACC Minister Nick Smith resigned from all his Cabinet portfolios after it was discovered he had written a reference letter on an ACC letterhead for National Party activist and ACC claimant Bronwyn Pullar, who had sought help with her case. In similar fashion to Dunne, Key wasn't done with Smith either, and welcomed him back to Cabinet last year during a reshuffle.


Former ACT leader John Banks was ordered to stand trial over recording donations from internet tycoon Kim Dotcom and SkyCity as anonymous. Regardless of today's verdict, Banks has already announced he would not contest the 2014 general election - proving that the mystery of the electoral returns was perhaps more difficult to recover from than the now-infamous cup of tea fiasco with Key two weeks before the last election.