Robert Muldoon

Prime Minister of New Zealand, politician (1921–1992)

Sir Robert David "Rob" Muldoon (25 September 1921 – 5 August 1992) served as the Prime Minister of New Zealand from 1975 to 1984, as leader of the governing New Zealand National Party. Muldoon had been a prominent member of the National party and MP for the Tamaki electorate for some years prior to becoming leader of the party.


  • "They won’t put up a statue to me. No, no, no. Nobody’s got that sense of humour".
    • Context: Responding to a journalist while attending the unveiling of a statue of Sir Keith Holyoake.
    • Source: From the documentary Robert Muldoon: The Grim Face of Power, 1994
  • "I came here [Parliament] to help people, not to hurt people, and I find that it has not been possible for me this year to stop very many people from being hurt".
    • Valedictory speech to Parliament, 17 December 1991
    • Source: Hansard, volume 521
  • "Arnold Nordmeyer had probably the most brilliant mind of any politician in my time but his political reputation was destroyed by the 1958 "black" budget. He was a remarkable politician and parliamentarian, as straight as they come, and, I repeat, about the most intelligent that I have come across".
    • Valedictory speech to Parliament, 17 December 1991
    • Source: Hansard, volume 521
  • "There was a lady walking down the pavement and as we passed she stopped and she said: 'I know you, don't I?' ... I said: 'My name's Muldoon.'. She said: 'You're not related to that bastard in Parliament, are you?'. And on that salutary note Mr Speaker, I say goodbye".
    • Valedictory speech to Parliament, 17 December 1991
    • Source: Hansard, volume 521
  • We are a free and independent nation but in time of trouble we stand with our mother country...New Zealand's decision to break off diplomatic relations with Argentina over the Falklands, immediately after Britain had done so, was not because of Britain's support on the sporting issue. The reason goes much deeper than that. It is in the context of the statement made by a Labour Prime Minister of New Zealand in 1939: "Where Britain goes, we go." We see the Falklands as British territory and the Falklands Islanders as subjects of our Queen. We live at the end of the line and we know the feeling of isolation...With the Falklands Islands, it is family. Historically, Britain has so often on great occasions thrown up the leader that the occasion demanded. I regard Margaret Thatcher as one of the finest and straightest politicians I have ever met...In 1939 we learned the folly of appeasement. A great catastrophe was the price that was paid. The military rulers of Argentina must not be appeased. New Zealand will back Britain all the way.
    • "Why we stand with our mother country", The Times, 20 May 1982
  • Shortly after I entered Parliament, it became clear to me that I had too many friends. What I needed was some enemies. There was no way that I was ever going to get across the message that I wanted to give to the people of this country if I used the soft, simple word, offending no-one and in fact being heard by no-one.
    • My Way, 1981
  • New Zealand was colonised initially by those Australians who had the initiative to escape.
    • My Way, 1981

Quotes about Muldoon

  • He wanted to be remembered as a person who left New Zealand no worse than he found it. My own view is that he did leave it with substantial problems and substantial dilemmas which have taken us a lot of time and no little anguish to sort out.
    • Roderick Deane, From the documentary Robert Muldoon: The Grim Face of Power, 1994
  • He was an arrogant, pigheaded doctrinaire fool.
    • Alan Gibbs, From the documentary Robert Muldoon: The Grim Face of Power, 1994
  • Muldoon was an enigma, he worried, he disliked the rich and the powerful and the establishment. He had a very paternal attitude to the poor and powerless. It was a typical Labour Party attitude.
  • This Prime Minister outgoing, beaten, has, in the course of one television interview, tried to do more damage to the New Zealand economy than any statement ever made. He has actually alerted the world to a crisis. And like King Canute he stands there and says everyone is wrong but me.
  • Muldoon, in 1975, had got a huge electoral mandate and he'd squandered it.
  • After a very long year we've got a very short knight.
    • David Lange on the knighthood of the rather short Muldoon in January 1984 who repeated the quote on U.S. television as an explanation of Sir Robert's dislike for him, Heinemann Dictionary of New Zealand Quotations (1988), p. 397.
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