Winston Peters was in Hawkes Bay yesterday, hitting all
the right notes with an enthusiastic local New Zealand First
support base before what the veteran politician said would be a
Mr Peters spent time engaging with voters in central Hastings
before holding public meetings at Princess Alexander and
Summerset retirement villages in Napier.
"The Hawke's Bay used to be a wealthy, serious export
province and could be again with the right policies," he told
an audience of more than 100 at Summerset.
He said he knew many in the room "won't be able to help
yourself" and would vote for National or Labour at this
"But you've got two votes, haven't you? That's the great
thing about MMP. So on your second vote, after you've
indulged yourself on your first one, buy yourself some
insurance [with a party vote for New Zealand First]."
The party is not standing candidates in the Napier, Tukituki
or Ikaroa Rawhiti electorates, but has put up experienced
politician and former MP Ron Mark in Wairarapa.
"This is a tipping-point election. We want control of our
resources and we are going to shut down foreign ownership of
our land and our housing," Mr Peters said.
New Zealand First believed proposed local body amalgamation
in the Hawkes Bay was a "real concern" if local communities
did not get a say.
"The issue should be decided by you in Napier. What you want
should be what the decision is -- not have it imposed by the
politically appointed local government body in Wellington
[who] come up here, try to flimflam some Hawkes Bay folks and
tell you you can't do a thing about it. It's called democracy
and democracy is still important."
He reiterated the party's policy to reopen the mothballed
Napier-Gisborne rail line. The estimated $6 million cost of
doing so was just a tenth of what the Novopay debacle had
cost the Government, he said. "It should be fixed up and it
will be important for the future, and it can be."
After the meeting Mr Peters told Hawke's Bay Today it was
disappointing the party was not able to muster candidates in
the Napier and Tukituki seats for this election.
"You're always looking around for people who've got the time,
resources and the experience to do the job and although we
come here a lot and campaign here a lot we just didn't get
the rising numbers that we thought. That doesn't mean there's
not an interest here as you've seen from today's meetings."
He said the case of Rotorua teacher and economist Fletcher
Tabuteau, who was named in fourth spot on the party's list
yesterday, showed New Zealand First could have a strong
He is now assured of a seat in Parliament if the party passes
the 5 per cent threshold.
- By Simon Hendery of Hawke's Bay Today