Nicholas Jones

Nicholas Jones is the New Zealand Herald’s education reporter.

NZ emerges victor in Argo war

Argo director Ben Affleck said he struggled with NZ's portrayal.
Argo director Ben Affleck said he struggled with NZ's portrayal.

Argo director Ben Affleck said he struggled with NZ's portrayal. It's confirmed - New Zealand was hard done by in the Oscar-winning film Argo.

The Jimmy Carter Library and Museum has released an image of a United States State Department document which credits four embassies, including New Zealand, with aiding in the protection and escape of six Americans in Iran during the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Argo, directed by Ben Affleck, suggests New Zealand diplomats turned away American diplomats who escaped from the US Embassy hostage crisis.

However, the newly released document, entitled "Iranian Update, February 6, 1980", states: "Four Embassies - Canadians, British, Swedish and New Zealand - were involved in their (the American escapers') protection and escape."

The document also reveals fears that New Zealand's involvement might be discovered.

"Details of the New Zealand involvement may have been compromised when documents were taken in a break-in at their embassy yesterday," it reads.

The brief mention in Argo has caused controversy, with Parliament this month formally expressing its regret at New Zealand's portrayal in the film.

A motion moved by New Zealand First leader Winston Peters was passed without dissent, stating that New Zealand diplomats' "inspirational actions" were of significant help to the Americans.

Mr Peters, a former Foreign Minister, had said that Prime Minister John Key and Foreign Minister Murray McCully were "too scared" to front up to Hollywood.

The controversy in New Zealand has made headlines overseas, with many poking fun at what they see as Kiwis being too thin-skinned about the movie.

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

At 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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