Audrey Young is the New Zealand Herald’s political editor.

Parliament expresses regret over Argo's NZ mention

Parliament today formally expressed its regret at the way Hollywood director and actor Ben Affleck portrayed New Zealand in his Oscar-winning film Argo.

The movie, a Warner Bros production, suggests New Zealand diplomats turned away American diplomats who escaped from the US embassy hostage crisis in 1979 when, in fact, they helped them to get out of Tehran.

A motion moved by New Zealand First leader Winston Peters was passed without dissent stating: "That this House acknowledge with gratitude the efforts of former New Zealand diplomats Chris Beeby and [second secretary] Richard Sewell in assisting American fugitives or hostages in Tehran during the hostage crisis in 1979 and expresses its regret that the director of the movie Argo saw fit to mislead the world about what actually happened during that crisis when in reality our courageous New Zealand diplomats' inspirational actions were of significant help to the American hostages and deserve the factual and historic record to be corrected.''

Argo, which won the best film Oscar, was based on the escape of six US diplomats from the basement of the Canadian ambassador's residence in Tehran.

In contains a line incorrectly stating that the diplomats had ended up with the Canadians after being turned away by the British and New Zealand embassies.

Mr Peters, a former foreign minister, said later he had moved the motion because Prime Minister John Key and Foreign Minister Murray McCully "were too scared to front up to Hollywood''.

"We acted on behalf of all New Zealanders who felt insulted and demeaned by the movie which is telling millions of people throughout the world that the Kiwis were cowards and did not help their allies when they were in trouble.''

Affleck told the Herald's TimeOut that when the film was first released that he "struggled with this long and hard because it casts Britain and New Zealand in a way that is not totally fair''.

At a press conference after the Oscars last month Affleck responded to questions on the issue saying "I love New Zealand and New Zealanders.''

- NZ Herald

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