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Helengrad was a satirical or pejorative neologism in New Zealand politics applied to New Zealand's capital city Wellington. However, it was sometimes used by the Labour party's opponents and critics to describe New Zealand as a whole and occasionally the fifth Labour government itself. In January 2008, the term ‘Helengrad’ - “a noun used to describe the iron grip of New Zealand’s prime minister over Wellington” - was reported as having made Australia’s Macquarie online dictionary among 85 other new words.



The Helen aspect is derived from Helen Clark, Prime Minister of New Zealand from 1999 to 2008. The suffix -grad (-град in Cyrillic) alludes to cities of the former Soviet Union named after political leaders, such as Leningrad and Stalingrad. The term has been used derisively by political opponents of Clark and the Labour Party to equate their ideology and political views with socialism and communism. This is similar to the term "Comrade Helen", referring to Helen Clark.


The term was reputedly first used by a caller to Lindsay Perigo's 'Politically Incorrect Show' on Radio Pacific in late 1999 or early 2000, and went on to gain traction in the media and in political circles following its appearance on the cover of the May/June 2000 issue of the magazine 'The Free Radical,' published early April, 2000.

In a 2000 feature article, entitled the "Siege of Helengrad," The Australian newspaper wrote that Clark's "uncompromisingly autocratic and pervasive leadership has seen New Zealand dubbed Helengrad". [1]


  • Christoper Dore, "Siege of Helengrad", Weekend Australian (Australia), October 21, 2000, Sec. Features, pg. 25.
  1. ^ Colin James A farm girl, discipline and her helicopter Management Magazine August 2003

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