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Winnie the Kingmaker?

Polling shows NZ First rising

A recent Horizon Research poll has shown New Zealand First back over the 5% threshold in popularity.

The Newshub-Reid Research Poll shows NZ First at just over 3%. That same poll, incidentally, shows Labour has dropped almost six points – the lowest since Jacinda Ardern took power. 

While polling is highly subjective and sensitive to a variety of factors that can affect the results, the general consensus is NZ First is rising in popularity. The party was wiped out in the 2020 COVID election that gave Labour its majority.

Party leader Winston Peters could be the “Kingmaker” yet again. The Party held the role in 2017 and opted to enter a coalition government with Labour. The move sent National packing after three terms in power.

“Secret Agenda” 

Peters has ruled out working with an Ardern-led Government. They “lied”, “can’t be trusted” and had a “secret agenda” says Peters, in reference to his assertion NZ First was deliberately deceived about the 3 Waters reforms and by the Ministry of Māori Development – led at that time by Nanaia Mahuta – commissioning the He Puapua report.  

The Declaration Working Group (DWG) drafting the He Puapua report describe their objective as recommending “a refocus on rangatiratanga Māori” (Māori self-determination). The report is a “roadmap” to Vision 2040 that aims to create a Māori state within a co-governed New Zealand in time for the 200th anniversary of the Treaty of Waitangi.

Labour’s Willie Jackson has said NZ First was never deceived, but just that any discussion of He Puapua was not a priority amid the emergence of COVID.

Peters doesn’t accept that explanation. “No one gets to lie to me twice”, says Peters on the notion of working with the current Labour Party to form a Government.

Peters has repeatedly called out the Government for co-governance policies he says are sowing the seeds of apartheid, saying “That is going to be a huge issue in 2023.”

“Everything got dramatically worse”

In a recent speech aimed at Labour, Peters said “Everything has got dramatically worse in a breathtakingly short time.” He has been campaigning heavily on cost of living, opposing 3 Waters, co-governance, education, housing, infrastructure, and public and mental health.

In a call for unity and an end to division based on race Peters said “The only hope this country has for a better future is unity. Whatever our ethnic backgrounds we should nevertheless be New Zealanders first. Not some hyphenated New Zealander, but just New Zealanders, first and foremost.”

Protest vote

Winston Peters was the only politician to engage with and listen to protesters in Wellington during the lockdown and anti-mandate demonstrations. 

Some speculate that his willingness to engage with the “river of filth” will bring him a raft of new support from those who felt betrayed by other parties.

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