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Helen Clark greatest living NZer – Herald

Written By: - Date published: 6:04 am, January 24th, 2009 - 52 comments
Categories: helen clark - Tags:

I wonder if someone at the Herald is going to get sack for letting this happen? The NZ Herald’s week long poll to find out who the greatest living New Zealander is, has yielded Helen Clark as the victor (with Willie Apiata coming in second). And that despite Helen Clark not even being included on the Herald’s initial profile of possible candidates! Well I think Helen Clark is an excellent choice and I thought Heather from Fairfield, Hamilton gave the most insightful reasoning why:

“I have enjoyed reading about many worthy names, great achievements and successes. For instance, I greatly admire Willy Apiata for his act of extreme bravery for which he was awarded a VC. I hope he will continue to serve NZers and others for many many years to come, and in doing so perhaps he will one day become our greatest living NZer.

But like the cheese advert that says ‘good things take time’. the single feat of conquering Everest may have propelled Sir Ed to instant fame, but it was what followed – his life time of service to others, that made him our greatest.

I therefore give my vote to Helen Clark who I think shares many of Sir Ed’s kiwi attributes and ideals. (I believe they were good friends.) Her immense contribution and committed service to NZ, and the respect and recognition she has achieved internationally, places her as our greatest living New Zealander. And like Sir Ed I imagine that for Helen, the journey will continue for many years.”

Congrats, Helen. Well deserved.

52 comments on “Helen Clark greatest living NZer – Herald”

  1. Monty 1

    Clark is definitely not the greatest living NZer. For many reasons 75% of those in the poll did not vote for her. In fact I had trouble supporting any on the list as the greatest Living NZer.

    We do not have a Peter Blake (who would have won hands down if his life was not prematurely ended) and Sir Ed of course did enjoy a full life. I think we need to wait a while and hopefully we will again see another Sir Ed or Sir Peter, but at present we do not have anyone – especially Clark who is even fit to tie their shoe laces.

    I believe Clark was a manipulative, nasty, power hungry and possibly amongst the most corrupt politician NZ has ever had. (also in the rank for this include Winston, Philip Field and Cullen) . Clark’s ambition was to make as many NZers dependant upon the state so that they would tend to vote Labour – thank God that failed as NZ proved they were to smart to let that happen.

    She demonstrated that there was nothing she would not do for power. The corruption of the democracy with the EFA summed up everything that was bad about her time in government. For these reasons 75% of those who voted in this poll do not regard her as the greatest living NZer.

  2. keith 2

    “I think we need to wait a while and hopefully we will again see another Sir Ed or Sir Peter,”

    Monty: Why wait??!! You should step up to the plate, old boy! Ive been reading some of your posts and you sir sound like the sort of top bloke who can grab this cuntry by the short and curlys and pull it up to the ethereal heights currently occupied only by the likes of yourself, Tony Ryall and the wart on Paul Holmes’ nose!

    Helen Clark greatest living NZer?! A woman!!?? What a bloody cheek!

  3. monkey-boy 3

    Well Monkey With Typewriter called this one last week – her achievements speak for themselves. Regardless of how you might personally feel about her or her politics, she deserves the mantle – it’s a ‘no-brainer’.

  4. Monty 4

    Keith – Go shag a Ginga – The qualities of people like Sir Ed, Sir Peter, Charles Upham come along once in a generation if we are lucky. The problem is that this country has become so medicore that Clark is the best that we can come up with.

    God help us.

    Clark is not deserving of the title. In time she will be remembered with less fondness than Robert Muldoon. No one on the list that was put up deserves the title. Although all have made significant contributions I fail to see how any could deserve such a mantle. Clark is despised by a significant number of people in this country. She is despised because she is a power hungry, nasty and vicious and all actions were to realise her own ambitions. How can such a person ever be called the greatest Living NZer.

  5. higherstandard 5

    I suspect the greatest living NZ is someone none of us has heard of yet and will only be recognised at a later date.

    Helen called it well when she said.

    “I guess it’s quite a hard ask asking who is the greatest living New Zealander – Sir Ed’s gone and undoubtedly would have won any such poll conducted in his time.”

    as did Key…

    Prime Minister John Key said he was not surprised his predecessor had topped the poll: “She has been front and centre stage in the public eye for the last decade. … She is well thought of as a New Zealand Prime Minister.”

  6. John Dalley 6

    I voted for Sir Murray Halberg who is a man much in the mold of Sir Ed with a long history of service to the community. Helen Clark while up there is still has a few years of service still to go.

  7. Felix 7

    If we’re having a do-over, I second keith’s nomination of Monty as Greatest Living NZer.

    His grace, humility and calm purposefulness are an example to us all in these challenging times.

  8. And the people hath spoken..

    monty.. permission to tie your shoelaces.. are they long ones by any chance.. enabling certain types of leverage.. or loading.. or leaning… or togetherness..

  9. So much for the hearald being right wing.

  10. randal 10


  11. Kerry 11

    No question Helen is the greatest living New Zealander.

    Monty – go back to watching your new wonderful PM complaint about the amount of work involved in being PM…ah dah!!!!!! Sorry John perhaps they can get some Lego in for you to occupy your time!

    The herald is without a doubt a right wing rag…….obviously most of the management are still on holiday and they let an underling decide things….

  12. Tim Ellis 12

    I think Helen Clark rates as a great New Zealander. I think anybody who’s served three terms as Prime Minister would be up at that level. I don’t like to disparage her for the title, but it was an online poll, and Clark is certainly not without peer, which is what the “greatest” suggests.

    To be given the title of being “the greatest”, I think you have to be far and away the greatest there’s ever been in your field, and have influenced many beyond your field. That put Hillary so far apart. Apiata did an extraordinary feat, but I don’t think we’ll ever have another military hero on a par with Upham. I don’t think Clark is the greatest ever New Zealand politician, but I do think she ranks up there with Holyoake, Fraser and Seddon.

    The title also begs the question: if Helen Clark really is considered by the public as the greatest living New Zealander, why wasn’t she reelected two months ago?

  13. QoT 13

    Yes Brett, the Herald can’t possibly be right-wing because they had sufficient integrity to actually conduct a poll and publish its results. YOU ARE SO RIGHT.

  14. infused 14

    I’d say it was rigged like most other online polls. Very easy to double vote. It’s been proven many times in the past.

  15. Camryn 15

    As I noted the other day, she was a no show in early voting and then rocketed up. However, assuming there was no problem with the voting, it’d suggest that to really select the greatest living New Zealander would require more of a consensus process than a winner-takes-all poll.

    The thing with Sir Ed (for example) is that there were not only a plethora of reasons to like him, but no reasons not to like him. Helen Clark inspires many, but also raises the ire of roughly as many others. If your achievements generate both strong admiration and intense hate, then you can’t possibly be the greatest living New Zealander – even if you can win a poll counting those who like you.

    Maybe the Herald could try STV next time 🙂

  16. will 16

    How about Travelleve as greatest living NZer ?

  17. peterd 17

    What about John Minto ?

  18. donb 18

    Yew Gods – Staggering that even the small amount that responded to this poll would select the cancerous and corrosive Clark as their most respected NZer.

  19. will 19

    Louise Nicholas??!!! What did she do to get on this list?

    Now I feel for her and what she had to go though, and good on her for standing up to the police machinery etc, but surely a Dave Dobbyn or a Neil Finn rates more of a mention in the life of this country than a poor woman who found herself a ‘celebrity’ simply because she was raped by policemen in her youth and did something about it??

    I wonder what our artistic community has to do to get some recognition from ‘mainstream’ New Zealand?

  20. Rex Widerstrom 20

    Sorry to pour cold water on this… *cough*… triumph and to come across all purse-lipped and churlish, but bollocks.

    With the exception of Willie Apiata – whose bravery in the face of physical danger not for glory (as motivates all sportspeople, including the sainted Sir Ed) but for his comrades puts him in a whole ‘nother category, to which titles could never do justice – I don’t think any of the Herald’s nominees deserve the title.

    As with the honours doled out each year, there are countless people in NZ who’ve given a lifetime of quiet service to others, either in voluntary or lowly paid positions, without whom society would be incalculably diminished.

    Helen’s had the salary, the super, the accolades, the power, the deference, the overseas trips and the perks. Reward enough, methinks.

    Once, just once, I’d like to see someone elevated above a lowly QSO or maybe OBE into the ONZM-level stratosphere whose name isn’t well known, but whose sacrifice for others – once we’d read about it – left us in awe.

  21. Lew 21

    The thing about “greatest” polls like this one, where criteria for “greatness” are left to the voters’ discretion, is that they don’t so much tell you who was the “greatest” as what the voters consider “greatness” is.

    If we accept that those who voted for Clark and Apiata did so on the basis of their positive qualities, then what constitutes greatness is a list including the following:

    1. Service of one’s country.
    2. Toughness and discipline.
    3. Courage and determination in the face of stiff opposition.
    4. Consistency and staying power.
    5. Humility and graciousness.

    I’d say that’s a fairly good start to a list of “greatness” attributes.


  22. Janet 22

    Congratulations and well deserved to Helen. And shows there is some sense in NZers after all. History will show this is a suitable accolade for her – one of the best PMs ever, and a pioneer in so many ways. And she will only grow in greatness from here on. (And I didn’t even vote)

  23. Tim Ellis 23

    Those are good points Lew.

    Clearly point 6, “universal admiration”, isn’t one of the criteria for greatness in this online poll.

  24. Lew 24

    TE: Hell no. ‘Course not. If it was we’d end up with a compromise candidate, and they can’t be great by definition 🙂


  25. Tim Ellis 25

    There are a couple of current vacancies to the Order of New Zealand at the moment. I wouldn’t be surprised if Helen Clark is made a member soon.

  26. Quoth the Raven 26

    It’s unbelievable, shocking and ridiculous that Willie Apiata got more votes than Nancy Wake. I remember learning about Wake in school. I think some NZers need to be learn a bit more history. As far as military achievements and bravery go she wins hands down and she was fighting for a real cause.

  27. Lew 27

    QtR: Peace, rule of law and secular democracy in Afghanistan isn’t a `real cause’?


  28. Rex Widerstrom 28


    Perhaps Wake isn’t considered “NZ enough”? Not saying that’s my opinion… like everything from Phar Lap to Russell Crowe, the Aussies are fond of claiming her as their own, perhaps the myth has been believed.

    …she was fighting for a real cause

    Servicemen and women don’t have the luxury of deciding whether or not to fight based on whether they personally believe in the cause, alas. So on that basis it’s a little unfair to Apiata.

  29. will 29

    The hilarious ramblings of old Monty Burns made the trip over well worth it!

  30. Lew.

    Honesty is something you have to have for greatness.

  31. Joseph 31

    I think working with the imperialist United States in a land war in Asia that will never be “won” as they’re fighting against an idea isn’t a real idea.

  32. Apparently many contributors to kiwiblog believe that this is confirmation that the Herald is a left wing paper.

    That comment about not being in the same galaxy as some people rings true …

  33. Not having a chip on your shoulder against America or anything capitalist would be a good step to.

  34. Lew 34

    BD: I agree. The question of whether Helen Clark is honest is one on which we probably differ, though. There’s also no credible way you can paint her as being anti-American or anti-capitalist


    It’s not a land war – it’s a counter-insurgency. It’s not being run by the US – it’s being run by NATO’s UN-approved ISAF. It’s not fighting against an idea – it’s fighting against an entrenched religio-ideological insurgent group who are, to an extent, being used as proxies by Pakistan to establish a regional power bloc and maintain military rule over their own country, so as to remain competitive with India.

    For what it’s worth I also think there’s little chance of ISAF `winning’, though not for the same reasons as you.


  35. Pete 35

    You must be joking! Helen Clarke was possibly the most unethical Prime Minister in the last century. Capable, effective yes. Great- not by any stretch of the imagination.

  36. deemac 36

    seems Monty has too much time on his hands – why does he think anyone on this site values his opinion??
    either he has nothing better to do, or he is being paid to waste space here – which is it?

  37. Bill 37


    “either he has nothing better to do, or he is being paid to waste space here – which is it?”

    Could be both. Monkey, typewriter, peanuts…..

  38. Anthony 38


    Yes cool, as a Act member.
    I am happy with Helen Clark getting this nomination, she is great lady

    One of the saddest things about Helen and Labour is that they did not understand Democracy and Economies. As people the worked to achieve a better country its is sad that their actions were making it worse.

    But only because no one showed them better.

  39. Nickc 39

    Alright own up, how many times did u vote Clinton? 😛

    I cant work out why Sir Roger wasnt on the list. He was the first person that came to my mind.

  40. Irascible 40

    Is Sir Roger still alive? I thought he was a night walker only.. a character in a N.Z.nightmare!
    Helen deserves the accolade.

  41. coge 41

    Joseph, if you disapprove of our troops being in Afghanistan you clearly won’t approve of the winning “NZer of the year” who sent them over there.

  42. Helen Clark was the main name that came to my mind WRT that poll. There would not be too many other candidates. Perhaps Jim Bolger or Sir Douglas Graham (both for the treaty settlements and the process that gave us MMP and the greater choice, more open and accountable democracy we currently enjoy).

  43. randal 43

    you should have heard them all on radio squawkback when this poll came out.
    all the tory squawkers were livid
    they couldnt seem to come to grips with the fact that john keys hasn’t done anything yet

  44. Tigger 44

    Helen won. The others lost. Get over it.

  45. Matthew Pilott 45

    Monty, did you know that 100% of New Zealanders didn’t vote for you? That’s EVERYONE IN THIS COUNTRY!

    Ouch. No wonder you’re so bitter.

  46. burt 46

    NZ’s first retrospectively validated PM the greatest living New Zealander ?

    I don’t think so Tim !

  47. BLiP 47

    Monty said:

    ” . . Go shag a Ginga . . ”

    As a ginga myself, I can highly recommend this to any woman who has not already done so.

    Also, it is the only thing I have ever seen Monty post that I can agree with.

  48. Lew 48

    BLiP: As a ginga myself, I can highly recommend this to any woman who has not already done so.

    I likewise concur 🙂


  49. lyndon 49

    If it helps resolve the argument, you could consider it like the policy (officially anyway) for Time’s person of the year.

    Put it this way – great is not identical to good.

  50. MikeE 50

    I wonder how many of those votes come from parliamentary services IP addresses pressing f5 all day!

    [lprent: I’m sure that if they did, then the Granny would have wasted no time in telling you so. After all they’d run reports looking at the IP numbers and that would be the type of story that they like running.

    Since they didn’t then it is a safe assumption that you are just spinning a line? Is that the explanation in the sewer?.]

  51. Matthew Pilott 51

    MikeE – do you really? How is that going for you? Got any insights for us, after the last three minutes’ cogitation?

    Pity old ‘nomics didn’t make the list huh?

  52. Jum 52

    A fitting tribute to Helen Clark in the Herald. Clark is our greatest living New Zealander.

    Thinking New Zealanders recognised that Clark brought dignity back to New Zealand in the first ten years of the new century and thanked her during the election campaign.

    I do not recognise the current interloper who used Hollow Men tactics to grab power. I do not trust his intentions for my country. His loyalties lie outside NZ.

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    Tena koutou katoa  Nga tangata whenua o tenei rohe o Pōneke, tena koutou Nau mai, haere mai ki te hui a tau mo te roopu reipa Ko tatou!  Ko to tatou mana!  Ko to tatou kaupapa kei te kokiri whakamua  Tena koutou, tena koutou, tena tatou katoa   Welcome. I ...
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  • Speech by the Minister of Defence to the New Zealand Institute of International Affairs
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  • Statement on passage of national security law for Hong Kong
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