Media Releases

The 9th Floor - Former Prime Ministers talk to Guyon Espiner

Released at 9:35 am on 4 April 2017

What is it like to run the country? What does it mean to make a ‘captain’s call’?
And what does leadership look like from the 9th floor of the Beehive?

Only six people alive today know what it’s like to be Prime Minister of New Zealand.

In a landmark new series for radio and podcast, RNZ Morning Report presenter, Guyon Espiner, talks at length with five of our six former Prime Ministers about political events and decisions that have shaped New Zealand over the past thirty years.

“These are people and policies that changed the nation and we’ve taken the opportunity to revisit those days in a series of lively, in-depth conversations.” says Guyon Espiner.

Executive producer of the series, Tim Watkin, feels it is important that New Zealanders are able to hear from their former leaders – in their own words – about what it means to run the country.

“The five Prime Ministers were in power during one of the most revolutionary and tumultuous periods in New Zealand’s political history. With the benefit of hindsight, we wanted to hear their reflections on what happened, why and how they made those big decisions that so shaped New Zealand.”

The conversations are both a reflection on key moments in history and an insight into leadership and the personal impact of power.

Some faced economic crises literally hours after winning power, while the first women Prime Ministers, Jenny Shipley and Helen Clark, had to navigate power in a very male world. In this same period Roger Douglas and Ruth Richardson upturned our economy, New Zealand went nuclear-free, we had the Mother of all Budgets, and MMP introduced the concept of coalition governments. There was no shortage of conversation.

RNZ will release a new episode of The 9th Floor each week over five weeks from Friday 7th April with content posted first on the RNZ website. Online versions will run between 50 and 75 minutes and will be available on, iTunes, and all usual podcast platforms. Radio episodes, almost an hour long, will be broadcast two days later after the 7am news on Sunday Morning with Wallace Chapman.

The interviews will be released in chronological order, starting with Sir Geoffrey Palmer (1989-1990) posted online this Friday and on air Sunday 9th April.

Sir Geoffrey Palmer will be followed by Mike Moore (1990), Jim Bolger (1990-1997), Dame Jenny Shipley (1997-1999), and Helen Clark (1999-2008).

The five-part series will be without John Key who resigned on the day Guyon Espiner was interviewing Jim Bolger, but declined to take part in an interview at that stage.

Viewing and Listening

Each interview was a four-camera shoot, so this is first and foremost an online video series.

The 9th Floor can be viewed online at and an edited radio version will broadcast on RNZ National just after the 7am news on Sunday Morning with Wallace Chapman.