On a Friday evening in 1980, a young Herald photographer rapped on the door of a parliamentary office.

When those inside asked what he wanted, Geoff Dale answered he wanted a shot of David Lange and his sidekicks eating their dinner.

Begrudgingly, Dale was allowed to snap a few shots of Lange, Michael Bassett, Roger Douglas and Mike Moore munching their fish and chips.

"It was one of those occasions where you knew you didn't have the picture until you took it, and then you think 'that's the picture I want'," Dale said.


That day, David Lange's first leadership coup of the Labour Party had been thwarted, with Rowling remaining as leader of the party.

Dale had followed the troupe as they surfaced from the day-long caucus and stood in line at Wellington Fish Supply, the fish and chip shop on Molesworth St, opposite Parliament.

"I photographed them standing in the queue there and then walking away with the newspaper bag of fish n' chips, but I just knew that the picture didn't really sing."

Plucking up the courage to knock on Roger Douglas' office door, Dale snapped the picture that led to the foursome being crowned as the "Fish and Chip Brigade" by the National Party.

The plotters would bring down Labour leader Bill Rowling in 1983.

Lange would lead the Labour Party to victory over Robert Muldoon in 1984 and serve as Prime Minister until 1989.

Mike Moore would later serve as Prime Minister for 59 days before the October 1990 election.

He would die just four days after his 71st birthday at his Auckland home in 2020, after serving as Leader of the Opposition, holding numerous portfolios including Overseas Trade & Marketing and serving as New Zealand's ambassador in Washington DC.

Mike Moore became the prime minister for 59 days before the October 1990 election. Photo / NZ Herald
Mike Moore became the prime minister for 59 days before the October 1990 election. Photo / NZ Herald

But on this December 12 evening in 1980, Geoff Dale captured the picture he now remembers as one of the highlights of a photography career spanning 40 years.

"It had a lot of momentum and I was most happy with it," he said.

"It's unusual to talk about a picture that didn't win any awards, but it had its own weight. It's one of my favourite pictures."

Dale said he later photographed David Lange on numerous occasions, but Lange never said whether he was happy or not with the photo.

But he later found out a giant print of the "Fish and Chip Brigade" hung inside Lange's Mangere Bridge home.

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