PoliticsApril 11, 2024

An interactive map of political scandals in Wellington


Tracking the locations of political scurrilousness and stupidity across the capital city. 

Wellington’s streets are littered with stories. Most of those stories are about corruption, incompetence, or other stupid/illegal things politicians have done to ruin their own careers.

This is an interactive guide to places around Wellington where big political drama went down. It does not include scandals that happened on parliament grounds, because there would be too many to count.

Claire Curran – Astoria, 159 Lambton Quay

Astoria, the famously loud and indiscreet cafe, was the improbable location of a 2018 meeting between then broadcasting minister Claire Curran, then TVNZ exec Carol Hirschfeld and tech entrepreneur Derek Handley. Both Curran and Hirschfeld lost their jobs for not disclosing the meeting/lobbying event, but their real crime was choosing the very public Astoria for a covert meeting. 

Kiri Allan – 44 Evans Bay Parade

While Wellington has a longstanding drinking culture, the sadder side of this is when it tips from light-hearted into property and personal damage. In 2023 the then justice minister crashed into a parked car after a couple too many drinks and was charged with careless use of a motor vehicle and refusing to accompany a police officer. The location is beautiful site right on the water’s edge, but it’s not a fun memory for anyone involved. 

Christopher Luxon – Kate Sheppard Apartments, 42 Molesworth St

Located across the road from Parliament, the Kate Sheppard Apartments are a popular Wellington base for MPs who want to roll out of bed and into the Parliamentary Precinct. That leads to some of the most awkward elevator rides in the country, as bitter political rivals are forced to either share small talk or stare into the distance and will the journey to be over. The Kate Sheppard Apartments was the scene of a minor scandal when PM Christopher Luxon decided he didn’t want to live in Premier House, instead claiming a $52,000 per year entitlement to live in an apartment he already owned outright.

Bill Sutch – corner of Aro St and Holloway Rd

This is the site where, in 1974, high-profile public servant Bill Sutch met with his alleged KGB handler, Dimitri Rasgovorov, to pass on government secrets. Sutch was charged with espionage, but the court case collapsed after our national security services refused to clarify what secrets he had leaked. They were too late to catch Rasgovorov who fled the rendezvous, and then the country, before he could be detained. 

Dimitri Razgovorov, a KGB officer, running away down Aro St after Bill Sutch was arrested. (Photo: Archives New Zealand)

Talent2, NZ home of Novopay – 70 The Terrace 

While it remains one of New Zealand’s worst scandals, younger readers may be unaware of the debacle that was Novopay. In the late 2010s, Australian human resources company Talent2 was contracted by the Ministry of Education to run the national payroll system for teachers. Launched in 2012, Novopay was a disaster from the start, resulting in teachers going unpaid for months. By February 2013, over 14,000 teachers and school staff were owed nearly $12 million in backpay.

Golriz Ghahraman – Cre8iveworx, 217 Cuba St

While Ghahraman has  pleaded guilty to four counts of theft, including at Cuba St fashion boutique Cre8tiveworx, and has been fairly criticised for her crimes, her work bringing the phrase “five finger discount” back into the public consciousness is commendable. 

Tory Whanau – The Old Quarter, 39 Dixon St

Speaking of bringing back an oldie, the “dine and dash” made an unwelcome reappearance at this Vietnamese fusion restaurant after Wellington’s mayor had a few too many.

Mark Blumsky – Good Luck Bar, 126 Cuba St

It’s hard to say which is more of a relic of a lost age, Wellington having a right wing mayor, or Wellington blithely accepting the foibles of a hard partying mayor. Mark Blumsky, who led Wellington from 1995 to 2001, was famous for being seen at virtually every bar along the capital’s entertainment strip. On one particular night in 2005, he was found by a bouncer at Good Luck Bar at 4.30am with a black eye, facial cuts, a broken tooth, and a four-hour memory gap. It’s still unclear whether he was assaulted or just got really drunk and fell down some stairs.

Former Wellington mayor, and hard partier, Mark Blumsky.

Tuku Morgan – Kirkcaldie & Stains, 62-72 Lambton Quay

In a scandal annoyingly dubbed Undiegate, first term New Zealand First MP Tuku Morgan was accused of misusing funds to buy himself an $89 pair of underwear… in 1997. To put that into context, the average Wellington house price at the time was $100 and a firm handshake. 

Peter Dunne – The super secret office of the GCSB, 9 Pipitea St (according to Google)

While he’s returned to the public spotlight as a tepid commentator, Dunne’s fall from grace was far more spicy, involving accusations of leaking confidential documents from New Zealand’s spy agency, the GCSB. In her Listener column, Jane Clifton wrote of Dunne: “My best guess is that being a source can be quite ego-boosting, and it is part of a midlife crisis to seek ego-boosts from novel sources.” Brutal.

Colin Moyle – Wellington Central Library men’s toilets, Harris Street

The Moyle Affair was a tragic tale of its era, the highly bigoted 1970s when homosexual activity was still illegal. In 1976, prime minister Robert Muldoon alleged in parliament that Labour MP Colin Moyle, who had been touted as a future leader, had been questioned by police outside a well-known cruising spot for gay men.

The accusation drove Moyle to resign his seat, but helped to fuel the local gay rights movement. It also played a part in both the eventual humiliating defeat of Muldoon’s government and the contempt Muldoon is held in by many across the political spectrum to this day. 

Darren Hughes – Waitoa Rd, Hataitai

In March 2011, a naked and afraid young man was seen running down a street in Hataitai. He made allegations against Labour MP Darren Hughes, but police said no charges would be laid because the evidential threshold had not been met. Hughes said that he had done nothing wrong but his position had become untenable, resigned from parliament and departed the country soon afterwards. 

Peter Dunne planks for the cameras

Back Benches filming location – The Backbencher, 34 Molesworth St

Once the home of “pub politics” TV show Back Benches, The Backbencher was the site where many politicians demonstrated their startling inability to be normal in public. It was also where Peter Dunne famous tried out planking, a short lived viral sensation before the internet became mostly war porn and the dumbest arguments imaginable. We didn’t know how good we had it. 

Multiple covert meetings and romantic trysts (allegedly) – Bolton Hotel, 12 Bolton St

If any place could be said to be the epicentre of scurrilous beltway gossip, it is the Beehive-adjacent Bolton Hotel. None of the (very juicy) stories have ever been confirmed, so this map entry is more a testament to the gossipy nature of a one-industry town than a location of great infamy.

Update: This list has been updated to remove mention of Havana Bar.

This interactive map will be updated as new political scandals emerge. To suggest additions, email Wellington editor Joel MacManus at 

Keep going!