Dancing Cossacks - 1975 National Party

Commercial, 1975 (Full Length)

One of the most controversial political adverts to emerge from New Zealand, this 1975 spot only played twice on local television, but helped bring National a landslide win. National leader Rob Muldoon’s chief target was the Labour Government’s superannuation scheme, which the ad notoriously associated with communism, via a troupe of dancing Cossacks. Created by ad agency Colenso, the concept was animated by company Hanna-Barbera in Australia. After being elected, Muldoon brought in a replacement superannuation scheme.

The Friday Conference - Robert Muldoon interview

Television, 1976 (Full Length)

In this feisty late 1976 The Friday Conference interview, host Gordon Dryden holds Prime Minister Muldoon to account over his 1975 election pledges. Dryden challenges Muldoon’s touting of freedom (amidst price freezes, wage controls and an All Blacks tour to apartheid South Africa), and the PM's description of himself as a liberal (with heated talk about insults traded during the Colin Moyle affair). Dryden evokes the spectre of the McCarthy era, and a pugnacious Muldoon invokes “the ordinary bloke”. Muldoon later refused to be interviewed by Dryden again for the show. 

The 1975 Leaders Debate

Television, 1975 (Full Length)

This 1975 general election leaders' debate sees Prime Minister Bill Rowling (Labour) square off against contender Robert Muldoon (National) in front of a panel (Bruce Slane, Gordon Dryden, David Beatson). Rowling had been in the job a year, after the death of Norm Kirk, and Muldoon paints him as a drifter in the face of the first oil shock. It was one of three pre-election specials made for NZ TV’s new second channel. This is filmed in black and white, but during this campaign National exploited newly-arrived colour TV via the infamous ‘Dancing Cossacks’ ads.

Encounter - Take a Girl like You

Television, 1976 (Full Length)

With her election in 1975 at age 23, Marilyn Waring became NZ’s youngest MP. This TV doco, directed by George Andrews, follows her as she settles into parliamentary life and prepares her maiden speech. Waring happily takes guidance on House decorum from a venerable Keith Holyoake, but is unwilling to let her age or inexperience deflect her advocacy for youth and women’s issues. Her relationship with PM Rob Muldoon is already cautious. It will be more confrontational eight years later when she provokes his ill-fated calling of an early election in 1984.

Robert Muldoon: The Grim Face of Power - Part One

Television, 1994 (Full Length Episode)

The first part of this controversial, no-holds-barred portrait of Robert Muldoon — the dominant figure of 20th century NZ politics — traces his rise to power. In one of the show’s most contentious themes, Neil Roberts and Louise Callan explore the effect that the death of Muldoon's father from syphilis may have had on his political career. Interviews with colleagues and family members cover his childhood, war service, early years as a husband and father, his immersion in the National Party and the relentless, divisive style that saw him become Prime Minister in 1975.