What went on at the ‘horn?

Written By: - Date published: 11:02 am, June 17th, 2008 - 53 comments
Categories: national - Tags: , , ,

Reports have been circulating around Wellington for several weeks about a night on the town for John Key with a couple of senior (though not old) Press Gallery members. Apparently John called them up and said he was in town and did they want to go out for a drink. One drink turned to a number of drinks at a couple of venues, most notably the Matterhorn.

Now some readers might see this as an interesting thing for the Leader of the Opposition to do, and certainly it raised a number of eyebrows in the Press Gallery itself (mainly from those not invited presumably!)

But it has been brought to our attention that Mr Key became somewhat ‘free and frank’ towards the end of the evening. He was heard commenting on the attributes of caucus members, including those who were ‘mad’ (Nick Smith) ‘out of her depth’ (Judith Collins) and ‘a prick’ (Gerry Brownlee).

He clearly had admiration for Bill English’s abilities though, because he said he thought he would ‘probably’ be rolled by him if he became PM.

Before the right wing commenters start attacking this as all just rumour and gossip, they might like to check with their National Party friends as to whether this event took place, and who remembers what was said. Small town, Wellington.

53 comments on “What went on at the ‘horn?”

  1. Disengaged 1

    Speaking as someone who quite often drinks too much at the Matterhorn and says things that he later regrets I think that this sort of interview technique should be encouraged. Can we move the live televised debates to the Matterhorn? I wonder if Peter Dunne will be so in love with the worm if it comes at the bottom of a bottle of Tequila? 🙂

  2. the sprout 2

    “mad’ (Nick Smith) “out of her depth’ (Judith Collins) and “a prick’ (Gerry Brownlee)

    seems Key is quite a good judge of character after all.

  3. T-rex 3

    Sprout – I was gonna say the same. If this is true I’ll have to reevaluate the guy…

  4. gobsmacked 4

    Well, Key has actually gone up in my estimation (from a very low base, admittedly). As Sprout says, he’s made a good call, on his caucus colleagues and his own future (18 months max, win or lose).

    Care for another, John? I’m buying.

  5. randal 5

    give him a joint and a couple of lines of peruvian marching powder and he will blow the whole gaff…

  6. the sprout 6

    He he, true T-rex and GS.

    English has a sharp knife ready for Key’s back to be sure.

    Maybe having a few beforehand would improve Key’s ability to speak on camera too? God knows he couldn’t do any worse than his past attempts.

  7. I heard this also. In fact, I’m pretty sure Key streaked down Courtney Place Barry Soper has photos.

    During the same night, Helen Clark, who called senior public officials into “Coyotes” for a fair few drinks, also got a bit “free and frank”. She said Mallard was a “complete dick”, said she considered Cullen as “nothing more than a mama’s boy”, while also admitting that Hobbs “had an eye on her back”. Obviously a bit tipsy, and to the disbelief of those officials there (presumably egged on by those who were not), Clark then called for WWIII against Kevin Rudd for slighting her with his ideas for Asia.

    She also said that she would rather watch paint dry then listen to the complete bullshit promoted and instilled in hard-core Labour lackeys lactating on the embarrassing site called the Standard, who has done nothing but further the embarrassments of her government.

    Credible? Probably not. But then I was only trying to fit into the generic, slanderous filth of this post. How am I doing?

    Before you left-wing commentators start attacking this as all just rumour and gossip, they might like to check with their Labour Party comrades as to whether this event took place, and who remembers what was said.

    Small town, Wellington.

    [I have checked with my leftwing contacts and can confirm that Hoolian’s stroy is not true. When I contact rightwingers regarding the events outlined in the post, they say ‘yeah, I heard about that’. SP]

  8. Tane 8

    You’re obviously out of the loop Hoolian.

  9. dave 9

    Reports have been circulating around Wellington for several weeks Do you mean reports, or gossip…or slander. Or nothing at all.

  10. Stephen 10

    Left wing, right wing, why the hell does it dispose someone to believing/disbelieving rumours – arg!

    they might like to check with their National Party friends as to whether this event took place, and who remembers what was said

    That makes some might big assumptions about the posters on this blog!

  11. Felix 11

    Hoolian just doesn’t have any friends to check with.

  12. Hoolian 12

    You’re obviously out of the loop Hoolian.

    How come? Because you truly believe that Key would: 1 invited press gallery members out to drink with him in public, fully knowing that they could print what he says; 2 would then tell these people his private thoughts about his caucus (which JUST happens to coincide with what the Standard thinks of English, Collins and Brownlee). Do you really expect us to swallow this drivel?

    I refuse to give your rumours any credibility. They’re pathetic and reek of school girls gossiping in Maths class when the teacher is out. The only people who are going to even think that this sort of crap is true, is those who want to believe it.

    Hoolian just doesn’t have any friends to check with

    You’re right. It all comes down to the fact that I don’t know what I’m talking about. It couldn’t possibly be that this post and all its contributors are furthering salacious hearsay. No, you’re right. There’s a massive right-wing conspiracy and I’m desperately trying to cover it up.

    Not even Farrar stoops to this low. Congratulations on your new level of nepotism.

  13. Hoolian: “They’re pathetic and reek of school girls gossiping in Maths class when the teacher is out.”

    Don’t boys gossip, Hoolian?

    captcha: ful recalled. Close.

  14. Quoth the Raven 14

    Congratulations on your new level of nepotism.

    What on earth do you mean? Please look up nepotism in a dictionary Hoolian.

  15. r0b 15

    Congratulations on your new level of nepotism.

    This is obviously some new use of the word “nepotism” that I wasn’t previously aware of.

  16. alex 16

    So assuming this happened at all, did this happen ‘off the record’, otherwise why hasn’t an article about this been published?

    And why would John Key ring a couple of reporters and hang out with them at the ‘horn?

  17. My sources tell me that Key is not by any means unacquainted with the ‘Horn and is known to partake of the cheapest pinot noir. This seems a much greater sin to some of us than the rather banal observations about his colleagues.

    Small town, Wellington? More of a big village, surely.

  18. Tane 18

    So assuming this happened at all, did this happen ‘off the record’, otherwise why hasn’t an article about this been published?

    Bro, a lot of stuff happens in politics that never gets reported. Don’t ask me why, it’s just the way it is.

    And why would John Key ring a couple of reporters and hang out with them at the ‘horn?

    It’s basic media relations to maintain cordial relationships with journalists, something Labour would do well to take note of.

  19. mike 19

    Interesting post but not does not really fit the Key persona to get pissed and slag his teammates’ off to a couple of press hacks does it?

    More likely the latest attempt to smear the guy who is pasting the incumbent in the polls at present.

    Rumor mongering is bottom of the barrel stuff but its obviously getting pretty desperate eh fella’s

  20. Matthew Pilott 20

    A lot of very short memories here – why is everyone so incredulous? Have you all only been interested in politics for the last eight days or so?

    Wonder why this got Hoolian’s back up so much. Did Key promise you a few drinks and then bail on ya? Was it the same night even?! Rough bro. You just can’t trust that Key guy eh?

  21. Lukas 21

    And you guys accuse Ian Wishart of creating far flung stories…

  22. Joker 22

    “Congratulations on your new level of nepotism.”

    The only possible explanation I can think of for Hoolian’s use of the word nepotism is that he thinks you all had a vacancy for bedmates and from the list of applicants chose your mothers.

    Therefore he is calling you all mother fcukers.

    Or he used the wrong the word.

  23. Felix 23

    Have you all only been interested in politics for the last eight days or so?

    This is the same conclusion I’ve drawn from a lot of the more “frothy” commenting here and elsewhere. Eight days might be an exaggeration, but certainly not longer than one election cycle.

  24. all_your_base 24

    We’ll see Lukas, someone just emailed to say they reckon they saw a “tired” John Key and “a tv-looking guy” drinking late at the Matterhorn bar towards the end of April, maybe Wed the 23rd.

  25. Lukas. It’s not a far flung story. I had heard it, a_y_b had heard it, from people who were there. The Nat staffers have been talking about it. In fact, there was even a newspaper article about Key buying drinks a few weeks ago. I’ll try to track it down.

  26. alex 26

    Tane, cheers for your response.

  27. Lukas 27

    Got any names, to go with all these people who have heard it SP?

  28. Joker 28


    “Everyone’s talking about it so it must be true”.

    I hate to do this but…I have heard from a mate who knows a guy who was in the DPS on Helen Clarks detail that he used to drive her to Judith Tizards house for late night shinanagans.

    I have heard similar stories elsewhere and other people tell me that they know Labour party members who have told them its true.

    You cant use speculative poorly informed hearsay and then get stroppy if it is used in a way you dont like.

  29. Ok. here we are (great resource the wellington library databases).

    from the Diary section of the Dompost on April 29

    “Spotted trawling for votes among the Wellington barflies was National leader John Key… Making the most of a parliamentary recess, Mr Key was in relaxed form for his night out on the tiles last Wednesday [that’s the 23rd], starting at the distinctly student pub the Southern Cross, before sashaying down to Cuba Mall hotspot Matterhorn… Mr Key even plonked his credit card on the bar at Matterhorn for a select few and, speaking of plonk, he appeared to alternate between a nice Marlborough pinot noir and Monteith’s pilsner beer. “

  30. Lukas 30

    Joker… I would say a fair chunk of NZ has heard similar rumours about Helen… SP most of the people I have talked to have heard the same stories Joker and I have… must be true then eh?

  31. the sprout 31

    umm, Hooli’s use of “salacious” is also fallacious.
    seems to have gone to the same school that Key got his media training from.

  32. Lukas. I wouldn’t know and I don’t care, and it’s not politically relevant, just like all the other stories one hears about politicians’ private lives.

    But Key was out on the tiles with Espiner and Garner, the night out was reported in the Dom, and we’re told that on that night out Key commented “on the attributes of caucus members, including those who were “mad’ (Nick Smith) “out of her depth’ (Judith Collins) and “a prick’ (Gerry Brownlee).

    He clearly had admiration for Bill English’s abilities though, because he said he thought he would ‘probably’ be rolled by him if he became PM.”

    That matters – if the man who would be PM expects not to be PM for more than a token period of time and has no respect for senior collegues who would be ministers under him.

  33. Lukas 33

    Yes it is politically relevant if Helen is playing around with Judith… that would seem to influence her voting on a number of issues would it not? Also would say speak volumes to her character if it comes out that these stories are true would it not?

  34. No, it wouldn’t.

    I can name half a dozen MPs from all parties that are not openly homosexual but have been known to partake. There’s also the various affairs. The illicit relations with employees, and the one who takes problems out on caravans. None of it is politically relevant – that’s just people being people and what people choose to get up to in their private lives, as long as it’s legal and not behaviour which they have publicly against, is their own business.

    A wouldbe PM saying he expects to be rolled within months of winning and who thinks he wouldbe senior ministers are wacko is politically relevant.

  35. Lukas 35

    Is a current PM saying they only got married for political reasons politically relevant than?

  36. all_your_base 36

    Lukas: I’d advise fronting with a quote if you really want to discuss.

  37. r0b 37

    Is a current PM saying they only got married for political reasons politically relevant than?

    Possibly it was in 1981. Not now.

  38. lprent 38

    Lukas: That is just crap. Old and long discredited except for people who cannot rub braincells together.

    Helen and Peter had been living together for a while before her selection. They got married because in the late 70’s/early 80’s living together wasn’t as common as it is now. Politicians were meant to look conformist, and in those days especially the rare female ones. So they got married rather than just living together because it made the more traditional voters in the electorate happier.

    So no it isn’t relevant except in the minds of prurient dick heads like you who prefer conspiracy theories to listening to what people say. These days they’d have just carried on living together.

    I’ve known Helen for a long time. In fact I dumped a computer on her desk at home in the early 90’s and told her that I didn’t want an illiterate (by my standards) prime minister. But I’ve been known to have a narrow definition of the word illiterate. I wonder what I’d define you as if I met you?

  39. Lukas 39


    “There is certainly some evidence that Clark?s personal issues are manifesting themselves in Government legislation. Take this comment from the Myers book in 1984 on the virtue of marriage:

    ?I felt really compromised. I think legal marriage is unnecessary and I would not have formalised the relationship [with husband Peter Davis] except for going into Parliament. I have always railed against it privately.?”

  40. lprent 40

    So? I lived with my ex for 7 years without marrying. You could as easily say that my personal issues were affecting legislation, along with everyone else that lives in defacto relationships.

    For that matter you could say that my addiction to programming is affecting the whole NZ economy bearing in mind how many systems and programs I’ve written over the years. So what is your point? That people should be like you?

    Being aware of the differences between people in society is a critical part of the politicians job. Mind you it is hard to see how much relevance a money speculator has to most kiwis

    Anyway, this is more than slightly off topic. The post, if substantiated, could raise my estimation of Key. It is rare for a politician to have such a clear view on his incipient termination prospects.

  41. Lukas 41

    I agree that it is off topic, so I will drop the issue until such time as this discussion comes up again…

    This whole ‘rumor’ reminds me of how John Tamahere spilled his guts on the Labour caucus before the 05 election… main difference is ofcourse that Ian had the interview on tape and was able to back up his stories.

  42. Anita 42

    Avoiding the shouting about free speech for a moment…

    I am fascinated that someone as closely connected to National as DPF would post those cartoons. It seems like a high political risk for a low possible pay off.

    Is this simply an un-checked rush of blood to DPF’s head? In which case, what will/should National do to distance itself from the embarassment?

    Or is it (yet another) of the Nats using Kiwiblog to float a potentially risky tactic/idea at arms-length and see if it should become part of the National strategy? If so, why are they sure DPF’s actions will never reflect back directly on the party?

  43. Anita 43

    Ok, might go copy that comment to the right thread – dammit 🙂

  44. Lew 44

    I’m with Pilott – I can’t believe anyone is the least bit surprised about this all. I worked in and frequented a wide range of Wellington bars and restaurants in the late 90s, and anyone who did for any length of time has stories such as these, mostly more eye-opening but less clearly-rendered than this episode.

    Interesting in the sense that gossip is, and it might be worth wagering a pint or two on English rolling Key mid-term, but anybody claiming to base a vote on this was already voting that way.

    I say bravo, Mr Key – keep getting out and about among your would-be constituents.


  45. Dean 45

    “None of it is politically relevant – that’s just people being people and what people choose to get up to in their private lives, as long as it’s legal and not behaviour which they have publicly against, is their own business.”

    Labour never made any mileage out of Brash’s extramarital affair. No, sir. Nothing to see here, move along.

    Absolutely pathetic, SP. Is there actually any chance whatsoever of you being at all objective about anything Labour or National ever do or have done?

  46. RedLogix 46

    Labour never made any mileage out of Brash’s extramarital affair.

    In general politician’s family and personal life is off limits. Except when either or both of these conditions apply:

    1. There is gross hypocrisy involved.

    2. Or the matter has a legitimate political dimension.

    Brash had used his marriage to LeJan politically and his affair was more than just humiliating to her, it fundamentally called into question Brash’s integrity. With this history he could never be PM.

    But the Press gave Brash a free pass over the most damaging apect. Having an affair with the Vice Chair of a lobby group who is one of your Party’s biggest backers is not only unquestionably political, but stinks of yet another sordid episode in National’s long history of secret “policy for cash” deals.

    Brash’s affair(s) failed both tests. Considering what a dead duck he was Parliament let him off relatively lightly.

  47. Rex Widerstrom 47

    alex asks “So assuming this happened at all, did this happen ‘off the record’, otherwise why hasn’t an article about this been published?”

    Oh good heavens, absolute masses of stuff that goes on and gets said by those in politics in dimly lit Wellington bars never gets reported! Partly I think it’s because some reporters just love the feeling of knowing something a lot of people – and certainly the public – don’t. And they like the idea they’ve been trusted with the confidences of someone really important.

    I’m sure Helen Clark has made similar comments to journos at some point and that if Key didn’t do it on this occassion he did so on another.

    And I’ll also bet that neither had anything nearly as interesting to say as Winston, and some of the people I met when I was with him, and which have yet to see the light of day… yet.

    *evil laughter echoed across The Standard as the mysterious figured melted once again into the blackness from whence he’d materialised*

  48. expat 48

    You think he’s looking to bump three deadbeats down the party list?

  49. expat 49

    Or is Labours spin machine fomenting happy mischief?

  50. Nedyah Hsan 50

    Ohhh… this is magic.

    I’d heard rumours that John Boy would step aside for Bill Boy after making his mark as PM and inserting it on his CV.
    Appears that hearsay of his night out with his flag waving journos seems to back that up.
    So I guess the party line now needs to run as “National; A Vote for Key, is a vote for B.E”

  51. Phil 51

    “National; A Vote for Key, is a vote for B.E”

    I’d tap that… I think Bill deserved better than ’02, and I think he learned some tough lessons.

  52. Just a small public service announcement on my behalf given I’ve been getting a few questions from political reporter colleagues as to whether I’m the Felix that’s been posting here of late.

    No it’s not me – it seems to be one of those rare occasions when there are actually two Felixs about.

    trust me it doesn’t happen often 🙂

    As you were.

  53. Hoolian 53

    Brash had used his marriage to LeJan politically and his affair was more than just humiliating to her, it fundamentally called into question Brash’s integrity. With this history he could never be PM.

    Redlogix – Go back to whatever hole it was that you crawled out of. Your narrow-mindedness is grotesque.

    There is no way that snotty, ignorant berk who sits on his computer blogging all day has any right to make outlandish allegations and slight anyone, let alone someone who isn’t in a position to defend himself.

    Your slighting of Brash is a sign of your total bigotry towards anyone who doesn’t sit on your side of the argument. Brash didn’t use his marriage “politically”; certainly no more than Clark did who openly admitted marrying Mr Davis for political reasons. There is no evidence to show the Brash did anything other than make a mistake that thousands of people make every day in this country. Extramarital affairs are not confined to the corridors of power.

    How did the allegations of an affair call “into question Brash’s integrity”? You knob. He ‘might’ have had an affair, but that is no ones business but his and his families. Its certainly no more the publics business than Clarks sexuality, Mallard’s wandering eye and Horomia’s secret after-dark visits by lonely girls.

    You have obviously decided that what’s good for the goose, isn’t good for the gander. Dishonest hypocrite.

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    There is new evidence that the Mental Health system is under increasing strain with waiting times for young people to be seen by mental health and addiction services lengthening says Labour’s Health spokesperson David Clark.   “Following yesterday’s seat of ...
    3 weeks ago
  • More beneficiaries heading to jail, fewer to study
    The latest quarterly benefit figures show a rising number of beneficiaries have left the benefit because they have gone to prison, while fewer are going into study, says Labour’s Social Development spokesperson Carmel Sepuloni. “According to recent figures, in the ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Analyst charts failure of National’s housing policy
    Respected analyst Rodney Dickens has published a devastating critique of National’s housing policy, and says Labour’s policies give more hope, says Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. “Mr Dickens shows since the signing of the Auckland Housing Accord in 2013 the ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Cost of Living increases hit those with least the hardest
    Beneficiaries, superannuitants and people on the lowest incomes continue to bear the brunt of higher inflation, according to the latest data from Statistics NZ, says Labour Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. “Since National came to office (December 2008) inflation for those ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Pike River Mine families deserve more
    The Government must be more open and honest about the Pike River Mine says Dunedin South’s  Labour MP Clare Curran.   “It’s just wrong that the Commerce Select Committee has refused a Labour Party request to re-open its investigation ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Government goalposts taken off the field
    The Government’s decision to dump the Better Public Service (BPS) Target to Reduce Reoffending by 25 per cent by 2017 shows when it comes to measuring their progress the National Government hasn’t just shifted the goalposts, but has taken the ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Last call of the kea?
    Last weekend, I attended the first ever Kea Konvention jointly organised by the Kea Conservation Trust and Federated Mountain Clubs of New Zealand. It was a power-packed weekend full of presentations by scientists, volunteers and NGOS working to raise awareness of this ...
    GreensBy Mojo Mathers
    3 weeks ago
  • Healthy Homes Bill needed to keep kids out of hospital
    National’s promise to reduce child hospital admissions can only be kept by backing Labour’s Healthy Homes Bill, says Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little. ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Wages not keeping up with cost of living
    Too many Kiwis are being left behind due to stagnant wages in the face of rising inflation, according to the latest employment figures released today, says Labour’s Employment spokesperson Grant Robertson. “While it is always good to see the total ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Labour’s housing plan needed for Wellington as prices top $600,000
    As the price of the average house in Wellington passes $600,000, the need for Labour’s plan to build affordable houses is getting more urgent, says Labour MP for Rimutaka Chris Hipkins. ...
    3 weeks ago