I've always been puzzled as to why Norman Kirk holds such a revered place in the annals of NZ politics. I've read his bio on Wikipedia and there doesn't seem anything in particular to distinguish him from many other leaders from either side of the aisle.
Could it be a labour Party and its supporters desperate to find something, anything good to cling to? Could it be that there is maudlin sentimentality attached to the fact he died with his boots on?
I don't know, so I hope someone who was around the place in those days will be able to provide some cogent answers which might be elevated from 'comments' to 'update.'
Mark D reports in:-
I remember a degree of optimism and hope surrounding his election. And subsequently a significant degree of disillusionment and dissatisfaction. I was a little young at the time to be worrying too much about the issues, but I was struck how as soon as he died the people who had been criticizing him just before were all of a sudden singing his praises. I really think the high opinion of him is just because he died in office. Had he seen out his term I'm not sure the view would have been so favorable. Of course being followed by Rowling then Muldoon can make you look good as well
And George opines:-
Speaking as someone of conservative views I recall Norm with respect. His unionist Labour DNA was as all with that affliction, but there was one thing that marked him, an inate decency. He came from the 'working class' and he worked for them as best he could. He never forgot the poor because he was once poor.
Any man who makes his own concrete blocks after work and then builds his own house with them has my respect -- a task now outlawed by the PC dickheads and bureaucrats that have successfully infested NZ.
He was old school Labour and he 'danced with those that brung him to the dance'. The music needed changing though.
Now I'm getting the picture:-
When Kirk came to power, NZ had overseas reserves of something like $900 million dollars. That was the last time that our balance of payments was in the black. Kirk said we did not need those reserves and told the nation Labour would use them. That $900 million dollars was gone in short order, and another $1000 million into the red as well, in just three years. Inflation went from 5.5% to 15.5% in the same period. That is what socialists do. The reality of this fiscal disaster was already dawning on the voting public when Kirk died in office.
The mild mannered Bill Rowling, who had a good "back story", was as politically inept as David Shearer is, when elevated to Prime Minister. Labour was routed in 1975 in the biggest reversal in New Zealand's political history.