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The "Moyle Affair"


On Harris Street, Wellington, (near the old library bogs, a well-known beat) late one night in July 1975, police spoke to the Hon. Colin Moyle, MP for Mängere and Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Science in the third Labour Government, eventually precipitating the "Moyle affair".

Moyle told the officer (at 11 o'clock) he was waiting for a friend to come out of the library (which had closed at 9). The next morning he told the Chief Superintendent he was meeting homosexuals to get information to debate the Venn Young Bill (to which he did not speak).

Robert Muldoon (National, Tamaki, leader of the Opposition) got wind of the incident but bided his time, saying during the 1975 election campaign that he "had something" if the campaign turned sour, and refused to allow National’s advertising agency to use the slogan "Let’s Get New Zealand Straight". "Something" was not needed and Muldoon became Prime Minister. He finally referred in Parliament on November 4, 1976 to Moyle "being picked up by the police for homosexual activities" - successfully deflecting attention from a question by Moyle about "dishonest dealings by [Muldoon’s] accountancy firm".

Moyle’s question had been provoked by Muldoon’s reference to his "effeminate giggles," though it was actually Frank Rogers (Labour, Onehunga) who had been imitating Muldoon’s famous cackle. Over the next few weeks, Moyle explained himself too much (unlike Marilyn Waring, who took Muldoon’s advice to say nothing after "Truth" newspaper sprang her in 1976), giving two new versions of the event. He told Parliament he had trailed the constable because he thought he might be a cat burglar, and he told Sir Alfred North he was really there to meet an unknown man to discuss security leaks.

Opposition leader Bill Rowling let Muldoon set the terms of reference for Sir Alfred's enquiry, which naturally focussed on Moyle, not Muldoon. As a result of Sir Alfred’s report, Moyle resigned from Parliament in 1977. He was elected to the Hunua seat in 1981, and became Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries again in the fourth (1984-90) Labour government. He was widely respected, even National-voting farmers saying he was the best Minister of Agriculture the country has ever had. He now lives north of Auckland and has never spoken publicly about the incident.


Much of this information comes from Spiro Zavos' book, The Real Muldoon,1978, Wellington, Fourth Estate. Written by Hugh Young. .


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