Marilyn Waring: The Political Years

Marilyn Waring: The Political Years

When I entered Parliament in 1975, I joined a very small club: although women in New Zealand won the right to vote in 1893, only a tiny handful had been Members of Parliament in the hundred or so years that followed. I was number 15!

In 1975, Marilyn Waring was elected to the New Zealand Parliament as the MP for Raglan. Aged just 23, she was one of only a few female MPs who served through the turbulent years of Muldoon’s government. For nine years, Waring was at the centre of major political decisions, until her parliamentary career culminated during the debate over nuclear arms. When Waring informed Muldoon that she intended to cross the floor and vote for the opposition bill which would make New Zealand nuclear free, he called a snap election. And the government fell. . .

This is an autobiographical account of Waring’s extraordinary years in parliament. She tells the story of her journey from being elected as a new National Party MP in a conservative rural seat to being publicly decried by the Prime Minister for her ‘feminist anti-nuclear stance’ that threatened to bring down his government. Her tale of life in a male-dominated and relentlessly demanding political world is both uniquely of its time and still of pressing relevance today.

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TEDx Talk: Marilyn Waring (video, 17'57'').


Marilyn Waring in conversation with Chloe Swarbrick (video, 12'28'').


Marilyn Waring at the Auckland Writers Festival (audio, 56'36'')
Print publication:
Ebook publication: May 2019
Pages: 376
RRP: $39.99
ISBN: 9781988545936
DOI: 10.7810/9781988545936

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'How we count women’s work is discussed at the 2020 New Zealand Arts Festival', Smart Talk, RNZ, 17 May 2020.

'Yowsa!: the 2019 ReadingRoom literary awards', Steve Braunias, Newsroom, 19 December 2019.

'ReadingRoom's 10 best non-fiction books of 2019', Steve Braunias, Newsroom, 11 December 2019.

'Former politician Marilyn Waring visits Whanganui to promote new book', Lucy Drake, Whanganui Chronicle, 16 October 2019.

'Tauranga Arts Festival: Why feminist economist Marilyn Waring joined the National Party', Bay of Plenty Times, 8 October 2019.

'Marilyn Waring on her pioneering days as New Zealand's youngest ever MP', Australian Women's Weekly New Zealand Edition, 29 September 2019.

'Zonta Whanganui alongside Women's Network and NCW to bring Marilyn Waring to town', Lucy Drake, Whanganui Chronicle, 19 September 2019.

'Book review - Marilyn Waring: The Political Years', Nine to Noon, RNZ, 15 July 2019 (audio, 6'35'').

'The Real Gender Pay Gap', BBC Radio 4, 11 June 2019 (audio, 28 minutes).

'David Slack on The Political Years', 95bFM, 6 June 2019 (audio, 10'25'').

'Bookmarks Marilyn Waring', Afternoons with Jesse Mulligan, RNZ, 5 June 2019 (audio, 40'49'').

'Marilyn Waring's tales of her toxic, brutal and vicious years as an MP still resonate', Alistair Browne, Stuff, 1 June 2019.

'‘It’s unhealthy to get up every morning to fight’: Chlöe Swarbrick with Marilyn Waring', Toby Manhire, The Spinoff, 4 June 2019 (includes video, 12'28'').

'Do we need a women’s issues party?', Jess Berentson-Shaw, Newsroom Pro, 28 May 2019 (paywall).

'I shot Muldoon a look that was full of hate when we crossed on a Parliament stairwell', David Slack, Stuff, 26 May 2019.

'How Marilyn Waring fought for a woman's right to choose', book extract, New Zealand Herald, 18 May 2019 (paywall).

'Marilyn Waring: A woman's view of parliament from 1975 to 1984', Nikki Macdonald, Stuff, 18 May 2019.

'Trailblazing Kiwi politician Marilyn Waring chats with Seven Sharp about her new book', Seven Sharp, TVNZ, 8 May 2019.

'How Marilyn Waring became an MP aged 23', book extract, The Spinoff, 11 May 2019.


'The book is valuable on a number of levels. The literature on the Muldoon years is still relatively thin. Waring’s contribution, based on voluminous notes that she kept at the time, is, therefore, important, not least for its detailed accounts of caucus and of divisions within the National Party. There are many surprises and some reputations are enhanced (others should suffer).'
– Jim McAloon, New Zealand Journal of History, Vol 54: No. 1, 2020.

'How is it that I’m the last person in New Zealand to know the truth about Marilyn Waring? I met her on the literary festival circuit, saw her onstage, and said to one and all: “But she’s so funny!” And one and all said, “Yeah. We know.”'
– Steve Braunias, Newsroom, 19 December 2019.

'Like all good stories, it starts slowly before building to a final confrontation with the book's main antagonist (which is undoubtedly Muldoon).'
– Kerry Lee, Wellington Regional News, September 2019.

'The Political Years is many-layered and will be of interest to a wide range of readers ... Waring’s story flows easily abetted by her humour, pithy insights and some wonderful photos.'
– Diana Atkinson, Tui Motu, September 2019.

'I think it's a brilliant book. She really does say that she's going to take you with her, riding on her shoulder. And that's how you feel. ... She's very principled, her writing is beautifully precise. This book is absolutely full of information – you get a very richly textured insight into what was going on right across her political life.'
Jonathan West, Nine to Noon, RNZ, 15 July (audio, 6'35'').

'It's an engrossing period of political history, which after a slow start, warms up to a finish that anyone interested in the subject will relish.'
Alistair Browne, Stuff, 1 June 2019.

'The Political Years is delicious. The adage is that revenge is a dish best served cold, and this book serves it up in the form of thinly sliced prosciutto.'
– Denis O'Reilly, NZ Edge, 21 May 2019.

'An utterly absorbing story! Marilyn shows that in a fight for justice we build more powerful collective responses when we share our experiences and tell our stories. Critical reading for anyone challenging the status quo!'
Jess Berentson-Shaw, researcher and writer

'This frank narrative of courage and tenacity in the face of an intensely patriarchal and homophobic polity will surprise and reward readers across generations.'
Sue Bradford, activist, former Green Party MP