With a new lease on life, New Zealand First leader Winston
Peters strutted into a jubilant atmosphere after a historic
result gave him a ticket back to Parliament after three years
in the political wilderness.
After a dramatic campaign and a late surge in support, New
Zealand First won about 7 per cent of the party vote,
delivering eight or nine MPs, depending on how the numbers
fall when the results are finalised.
Written off by many, attacked in the final days of the
campaign by all parties on the right, most notably by
National leader John Key, Mr Peters bounced back from the
And last night he was predictably unpredictable. He arrived
at the Spencer Hotel in Takapuna and a gave a five-minute
speech to about 50 supporters, firing barbs at the media and
veiled shots at his doubters, before rushing off to "attend
"I want to thank those voters around the country from Kaitaia
to invercargil, and from further north and south than that
... who brought us back home to Parliament."
He hinted at being unfairly hamstrung to the point that
affected the party vote.
"Dare I say I regret that we haven't brought in more [MPs],
and there circumstances for that, and I'll talk about that in
the next few days.
"Tonight it's about thanking the people who have shown they
believe in democracy still and they believe in a fair go.
"Others had huge resources. Some parties spent more than four
thousand times what New Zealand First spent on this
He was not shy of a few words for the media.
"We'll never forget the nature of this campaign. For much of
it New Zealand First was marginalised, stigmatised and even
demonised in a substantial black out from my friends in front
of me in the media.
"But nevertheless it speaks the enormous character of the NZ
First membership that they never stopped believing that we
could come back."
He said the party would be "positive and constructive" as it
heads for the opposition benches.
"There are serious economic problems we face as a country and
we will never get through them unless we're united as one
In that unity we share in the pain and we all share in the
gain, and that's what New Zealand First stands for."
He congratulated the other NZ First candidates that will be
"I wish I could be with you, but you didn't hire a big enough
The result sees a bevy of NZ First candidates entering
Parliament, including former North Shore Mayor Andrew
Williams, Rodney local board member Tracey Martin, and former
Investigate columnist Richard Prosser.
Party support surged in the final weeks of the campaign, when
Mr Peters benefited from a high profile when he leaked
alleged details of the teapot tape, the conversation between
Prime Minister John Key and Act's John Banks.
Andrew Williams said the teapot saga "would not have been
detrimental to New Zealand First".
"But at the end of the day, New Zealand First has for some
time now been doing lot of work in the communities, and
talking to everyday good Kiwi New Zealanders and they are
responding, I believe, to the fact that New Zealand First has
been missing from Parliament."
Mr Peters has said he will sit on the opposition benches. But
that does not mean it can support confidence and supply votes
for a Budget it approves of, or vote in favour of Government
It would vote issue by issue.
New Zealand First list:
1. Winston Peters, list: Party leader. Was minister of
Foreign Affairs under the previous Labour-led government
2. Tracey Martin, Rodney: A member of the Rodney Local Board
of Auckland Council, and chairwoman of the board of trustees
of Mahurangi College
3. Andrew Williams, North Shore: Mayor of North Shore City
from 2007 to 2010. Made headlines for sending a message to
Prime Minister John Key at 3.30am and urinating against a
4. Richard Prosser, Waimakariri: A columnist for Investigate
magazine, and as an independent in 2007 called for the South
Island to consider establishing a separate parliament, before
pulling out of the election
5. Barbara Stewart, Waikato: A former teacher, was a member
of parliament from 2002 to 2008 and the party's spokeswoman
for Health, Social Services, Family and Industry Training
6. Brendan Horan, Tauranga: A weather presenter for One News
until he took redundancy in 2007 when Jim Hickey returned to
7. Denis O'Rourke
8. Asenati Taylor
9. Helen Jane Mulford
10. Hugh Barr
- Derek Cheng and Paul Harper