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Collection

Politics

Curated by NZ On Screen team

New Zealand's representatives in parliament have had some of their most memorable moments captured on camera. This collection showcases their screen legacy: from stirring addresses (Kirk), feisty debates (Muldoon, Lange, Olympic boycotts), revolutions, nukes, and snap elections, to political punches (Bob Jones), and young leaders (Clark). Listener writer Toby Manhire writes about Kiwi politicians on screen here.

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Robert Muldoon: The Grim Face of Power - Part Two

Television, 1994 (Full Length Episode)

In the second part of this controversial, no-holds-barred portrait, Neil Roberts And Louise Callan look at Robert Muldoon’s tenure as Prime Minister — and claim that his best days were behind him before he took power. They examine Muldoon’s brutally divisive leadership style, which saw him at odds with officials, ministers, unions, the media and social groups that opposed him. The tumultuous events of 1984 that resulted from Muldoon’s desperate attempts to cling to power — calling a snap election and all but refusing to leave office after his defeat — are explored in depth.

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Close Up - Following the Leader (Jim Bolger)

Television, 1986 (Excerpts)

This report from 80s current affairs show Close Up introduces the New Zealand public to future Prime Minister Jim Bolger — shortly after the “lightning coup” that saw him unseating urban lawyer Jim McLay, to become leader of the National Party. The  focus is on Bolger’s rural roots as a father and farmer. There is also praise from political historian Barry Gustafson, and a mini journalistic joust with ex PM Robert Muldoon, over whether he supports the new party leader. In 1987 Labour was re-elected for another term; Bolger’s party swept to victory in 1990. 

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Face to Face with Kim Hill - David Lange

Television, 2003 (Excerpts)

Kim Hill interviews former Prime Minister David Lange. Aged 60 and battling ill health, Lange talks about "the loneliness of politics", and what you can and can't achieve; and also about facing his own mortality. Lange says he is not haunted by death, but celebrates his time with his young daughter Edith. He also reflects on the ephemeral nature of having a high profile role, by telling a story about being in hospital and someone calling out "hi, Mr Muldoon". Lange died two years after this interview, in 2005.

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Revolution - 1, Fortress New Zealand

Television, 1996 (Full Length Episode)

Documentary series Revolution mapped the social and economic changes in New Zealand society in the 1980s and early 1990s. This first episode focuses on NZ's radical transformation from a heavily regulated welfare state to a petri dish for free market ideology. It includes interviews with key political and business figures of the day, who reveal how the dire economic situation by the end of Robert Muldoon's reign made it relatively easy for Roger Douglas to implement extreme reform. Revolution won Best Factual Series at the 1997 Film and TV Awards.

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The 1984 Leaders Debate

Television, 1984 (Full Length)

Six days out from the 1984 snap election, PM Sir Robert Muldoon and Leader of the Opposition David Lange face off across a table in a TVNZ leaders’ debate chaired by Ian Johnstone. A tired Muldoon, on the back foot since calling the election two weeks earlier, attempts to claim the high ground of experience in office and on the international stage; but he is no match for Lange’s deftness and gravitas — his parting shot of "I love you, Mr Lange" is one of the more remarkable moments in NZ political history.

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Series

Eyewitness News

Television, 1982–1989

The nightly Eyewitness News debuted in 1982 having evolved out of TV2’s twice weekly current affairs show of the same name. Screening at 9.30pm, it moved to TV One before being axed in 1990 in favour of a later One News bulletin. Two of the key moments in the political turmoil of 1984 played out in front of its cameras — PM Robert Muldoon’s calling of the snap election and his devaluation interview which sparked an economic and constitutional crisis. Reporter Rod Vaughan also received his infamous bloody nose from Bob Jones while on an Eyewitness story.

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Frontline - Five Days in July

Television, 1994 (Full Length Episode)

Ten years on from the tumultuous 1984 General Election, this award-winning TVNZ current affairs doco examines the financial and constitutional crisis that resulted from Robert Muldoon’s initial refusal to yield power. Reporter Richard Harman, who conducted pivotal interviews at the time, talks to key players to piece together the events of five remarkable days. They also saw the opening salvoes between David Lange and US Secretary of State George Shultz over nuclear ship visits, and foreshadowed Roger Douglas’ controversial remaking of the NZ economy. 

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Allen Guilford

Cinematographer

Allen Guilford was a prolific and much admired cinematographer, whose host of television programmes ranged from 1970s TV landmark The God Boy to colonial melodrama Greenstone. Guilford won NZ Film Awards for his work on movies The Footstep Man, coming of age tale The Climb, and blockbuster What Becomes of the Broken Hearted? He passed away on 10 March 2009. 

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Tom Scott

Writer, Director

Catapulted to fame after tousles with Prime Minister Robert Muldoon, Tom Scott originally trained to be a vet. He ended up helping Murray Ball turn Footrot Flats into a hit movie. The celebrated humourist and cartoonist has also told the story of Kiwi legends Edmund Hillary and David Lange, in both TV documentaries and dramas. Scott also co-wrote Rage, a TV movie about the 1981 Springbok tour.