Key Points:

This year will be one Labour's Mangere MP Taito Phillip Field will remember for all the wrong reasons. He started the year under a cloud, but by the end his political career was in tatters.

That cloud came in the form of a ministerial inquiry by Noel Ingram, QC, into allegations that he personally benefited as a result of assistance he gave to Asian overstayers.

When Dr Ingram's report was finally released in July, things quickly got stormy for Mr Field. It found he had made several errors of judgment. It also found his evidence was "unsatisfactory" at times and several of his associates refused to co-operate with the inquiry.

Although there was no one smoking gun in the report, it left Mr Field's credibility severely dented and provided an astonishing wealth of detail for the Opposition to attack the Government and its management of immigration issues.

At first Prime Minister Helen Clark said little was needed in the way of remedial action - she had already dumped him from his junior ministerial roles and Mr Field himself claimed he had been "vindicated".

But as the political damage mounted she eventually cut him loose, saying he should consider his future in politics.

A few days later he was stood down on indefinite leave as police said they were launching a bribery and corruption investigation into his dealings. That investigation is still being carried out.

When a key Labour backer - the Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union - withdrew its support and said it would fight Mr Field's candidacy in 2008, it became clear he would need a miracle to ever stand for Labour again.

The on-the-field and off-the-field antics of National's leader Don Brash also garnered intense public interest.

Few would have picked Dr Brash as a modern-day Cassanova, but it was the unveiling of the conservative leader's spicy private life that triggered the final chapters in his political career.

Rumours of his alleged extramarital affair with Business Roundtable vice-chairwoman Diane Foreman had been circulating for months, but it took National's rebel MP Brian Connell and Labour's self-styled hardman Trevor Mallard to burst it open.

In a heated exchange in Parliament's debating chamber, Mr Mallard seized on Dr Brash's use of the word "affair" to loudly allude to the allegations swirling around the National leader.

He then threatened to dish the dirt on the Opposition's private lives if they did not back off attacking the Government as corrupt.

The reference went largely unreported, but the following week at National's weekly caucus meeting Mr Connell challenged Dr Brash about whether he had anything to hide.

When Dr Brash refused to answer the question, Mr Connell said he believed he was no longer fit to lead the party.

The stoush was leaked to the Independent Financial Review. When reporters calling Dr Brash's office were then told he was in Auckland and would not be returning to work for a few days because his wife was "sick", media outlets went into overdrive.

A short time later Dr Brash put out a statement revealing he was having marriage difficulties. Dr Brash did not mention Ms Foreman, but as media dogged his every step over the coming days he never denied the allegation.

He tried to plough on, but his MPs' confidence had been irreversibly shaken. While Dr Brash was trying to put on a business-as-usual face to the public, John Key's backers were quietly crunching the numbers to replace him.

In just over two months Dr Brash relinquished the reins to Mr Key.

Mr Connell, for his part, was put in the sinbin - suspended from National's caucus - and seems likely to face the prospect of deselection at the 2008 poll.

Mr Mallard and other Labour MPs tried to shaft responsibility for the outing of Dr Brash's personal life back to Mr Connell's actions, but Mr Mallard received a dressing-down from the Prime Minister.

Mr Mallard also copped flak for hitting National's straight-talking MP Bob Clarkson around the ears with a manila folder after the Tauranga MP had held up a sign in Parliament with the word "corrupt" and an arrow pointing to the Labour benches.

But Mr Mallard's actions weren't the only ones that garnered MPs' bad headlines for their behaviour in Parliament.

New Zealand First MP Ron Mark caused a furore in August when he was caught on tape by TV3 giving National MP Tau Henare the finger, three times.

The incident was widely covered, bringing an apology from Mr Mark and much debate about Parliament's standards. Although Mr Henare was the victim of Mr Mark's gesture, he turned perpetrator later when he called Mr Mallard a "wanker" in the House.

And there was nothing in-House about first-term National MP Jonathan Coleman's glaring misdemeanour.

Dr Coleman made headlines when he was punched for allegedly blowing smoke in the direction of a woman while enjoying the hospitality of giant cigarette multinational British American Tobacco at a U2 concert.

But it wasn't so much his antics that made waves as the fact that National's associate health spokesman was accepting free goodies from a big company which was an active lobbyer on health sector issues. Dr Coleman belatedly recognised the inherent conflict and said he wouldn't do it again.

NZ First leader Winston Peters also did his best to make headlines. Reincarnated as Foreign Minister, he has largely kept a low profile, but he could not help himself lashing out at the media on a trip to Washington.

The trip was a chance for Mr Peters to prove himself on the world stage but, a tad nervous, he did his utmost to keep journalists out of the picture.

When they were invited to ask questions by high-profile Republican congressman John McCain during a photo call, that was a bridge too far.

As Mr McCain heaped praise on to New Zealand, a fractious Mr Peters told journalists to get out.

- NZPA