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 (including the centre-right National Party) 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. A commentary in the Evening Post ascribed the reason to the nickname "Does she (Helen Clark) know the Capital's earned the nickname, Helengrad, such is her total command of issues, initiatives and air time?"
- Christoper Dore, "Siege of Helengrad", Weekend Australian (Australia), 21 October 2000, Sec. Features, pg. 25.
- Squires, Nick (10 January 2008). "Australians add new words to dictionary". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 4 May 2010.
- http://www.knowledge-basket.co.nz/search/doc_view.php?d49=ffx95-03/text/2000/04/29/doc00427.html_ Editorial The twin concepts of skill and loyalty Evening Post page 6, 27 April 2000
- http://www.colinjames.co.nz/management/Management_Clark_03Aug.htm Colin James A farm girl, discipline and her helicopter Management Magazine August 2003