For each general election since 2008, the Herald has undertaken an in-depth project on the person challenging to be Prime Minister.

We call these 'unauthorised biographies' and have so far told the life and times of John Key and Phil Goff - interviewing many of their family, friends and work and community colleagues.

The resulting multi-part feature articles have been rich in archive photographs and documents and imagery never before seen by the public.

They have explored the politicians' upbringings and formative influences, their successes and failures and the values they bring to their jobs as Opposition leader.


We deliberately focus on the challenger because usually they are far less well-known and less familiar to the electorate.

Here, we begin a major two-part biography of 'David Cunliffe - the Man who would be Prime Minister' in 2014.

Senior writer Phil Taylor and deputy political editor Claire Trevett have scoped, researched and written these pieces over the past few months. The first part by Taylor charts David Cunliffe's family history and early years through schools here and overseas, university and his professional career before being moved to enter politics at the 1999 election.

The second part, publishing in the Weekend Herald print edition and here on from Saturday July 12, sees Trevett go behind the scenes on Cunliffe the Labour politician, in government and in opposition, in the frontline and exiled to the farthest backbenches before rising again to lead Labour and challenge for New Zealand's top job.

Read more:
Unauthorised biography of David Cunliffe: The man who would be PM
10 things you didn't know about David Cunliffe
David Cunliffe: Me and John Key