NZ First’s slide

It looked like NZ First were in for a good election through the middle of the year, polling 9-10% in April , May and June, over their 8.66% of the 2014 election.

In July they peaked at 13.5% (Reid Research), 11% (Colmar Brunton) and 11.5% (Roy Morgan). They were benefiting from the slide in support of Andrew little and Labour.

Then in early August Jacinda Ardern took over Labour and started a rise in the polls, while NZ First has been sliding.

They are still trending down and are getting dangerously close to the threshold. There has also been (unsubstantiated) reports that Winston Peters is at risk in the Northland electorate.

The latest polls for NZ First have been:

  • Roy Morgan (28 Aug – 10 Sep) 6%
  • Newshub Reid Research (6-11 Sep) 6%
  • 1 News Colmar Brunton (9-13 Sep) 6%
  • 1 News Colmar Brunton (15-19 Sep) 5%

If NZ First only just make it in above the threshold Shane Jones may miss the cut. He is 8 on the list.

Jones joining NZ First was milked for months before being announced, he joined with a lot of publicity, and has been virtually invisible since then.

All other NZ first candidates apart from Peters have been out of sight as well apart from attracting a bit of attention here: NZ First candidate vows to remove Treaty of Waitangi from law

A New Zealand First candidate has announced a radical bid to scrap the Treaty of Waitangi from New Zealand law.

But the party’s leader Winston Peters has laughed off the comments and told media “that’s why she’s ranked 38 (on the list)”.

So NZ First’s campaign has been all up to Winston. He is having to campaign in Northland to try to retain his seat – it would be a major blow to his ego if he loses his electorate seat – and also travel around the country campaigning for the party.

And Peters appears to be struggling with the workload as well as struggling to get traction in the media

Ardern has picked up a lot of media attention seemingly at Winston’s expense, but James Shaw has been able to quietly claw back support for the Greens with even less publicity.

Peters appears to be crankier than usual, and his stunts have not paid off – he tried to gatecrash the Morrinsville farmers’ rally and was booed there.

He is looking tired, aged and out of touch.

Last election he was up against John Key and David Cunliffe, Russel Norman and Metiria Turei, and Peter Dunne, Kim Dotcom, Kim Dotcom and Colin Craig, none of whom are leading parties this election.

Only David Seymour is still in the mix (Hone Harawira is really only campaigning in Te Tai Tokerau).

Bill English is keeping his distance from Peters as much as possible.

Winston is showing his vintage against Jacinda Ardern and Shaw, and Seymour, and Damien Light, and he also contrasts with the energy of Marama Fox.

Not only is Peters showing the pressure his campaign has lacked focus and has been vague and confusing.

The NZ First billboard can be easily misinterpreted:

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Had enough of Winston? Apparently many voters have.

This seems quite at odds with Winson’s image:

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The policy to move the Port of Auckland is not being taken seriously.

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Peters has alleged a National Party secret agenda on water tax:

He implied he has evidence but as is his habit has not produced any.

NZ First seems to be trying to have a policy for everyone, but seem to be missing the mark.

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Repeating false claims don’t help – there is nothing like ‘mass immigration’ in New Zealand.

I think a major problem with the NZ First campaign is the change from the past approach of maverick chasing the disgruntled vote to trying to present a wide range of serious policies – that are hardly being taken seriously.

Refusing to give any indication of possible coalition preferences is also probably not helping.

And a plethora of ‘bottom lines’ with no certainty over whether any or all are deal breakers or not just adds to the confused position of Peters and the party.

At the moment the trend looks to be all going downwards, and NZ First look to be at real risk of missing the cut.

Peters may conjure up a late revival but time is running out.

Changing accusations on who leaked Peters Super overpayment

There has been a slew of accusations about who leaked information about the superannuation overpayment of Winston Peters.

Peters initially blamed the IRD. Then he moved to MSD, Bill English, Anne Tolley, Paula Bennett and public servants. By yesterday he was calling for mass resignations.

Stuff: Winston Peters calls for heads to roll over superannuation overpayment leak

Winston Peters wants heads to roll over his superannuation overpayment being leaked, including Social Development Minister Anne Tolley and State Services Minister Paula Bennett.

The NZ First leader told media following a finance debate in Queenstown on Wednesday night that those who have said they knew about his overpayment have “breached the privacy laws”.

When asked if Tolley, Bennett, State Services Commissioner Peter Hughes and Prime Minister Bill English’s chief of staff, Wayne Eagleson, should all lose their jobs, Peters said “of course they should”.

“They’re all in breach of the privacy laws of this country and there has to be consequences – they have just been so badly caught out,” he said.

Peters has never resigned over breaches of privacy but he has different rules for himself.

Also yesterday: Shane Jones takes aim at social development boss: ‘Writing’s on the wall’

NZ First candidate Shane Jones has launched a scathing attack on a senior civil servant, who he has accused of being at the centre of politically-motivated leaks in two separate elections.

Ministry of Social Development chief executive Brendan Boyle has confirmed he briefed his minister Anne Tolley that the department had settled a matter with NZ First leader Winston Peters’ on the overpayment of his pension.

“The man is no stranger to breaches of privacy. He was in charge of the internal affairs department when in the midst of the 2008 election there was a massive dump of documents.

“It was a file of a matter I dealt with, pertaining to Bill Liu – right in the middle of an election.

“Now the man is in the middle of a major privacy breach in this election,” Jones said.

Risky for Jones to bring up Bill Liu.

It emerged just before the 2008 election, then Labour Immigration Minister Jones granted the controversial Chinese businessman New Zealand citizenship despite an Interpol warning.

And it seems that after being distanced from National Cameron Slater has shifted his dirty politics to trying to help Peters and NZ First.

Like Peters his accusations have evolved, suggesting they are dirty speculations.

He originally thought the big revelation was something else.

Then when the Super  story broke he accused Anne Tolley. He has since piled into Bill English and his staff, also Steven Joyce.

And apparently he has now blamed someone ‘very close to Paula Bennett’.

If the leaker is revealed both he and peters will probably claim to have been right – if they accuse enough people their odds must be good.

It has long been a tactic of both Peters and Slater of making public accusations without any evidence, it seems to be aimed at trying to flush out a culprit.

Dirty politics from both of them. It was dirty to leak the information but whoever leaked is just wrestling in mud with political pigs.

NZ First party list announced

Yesterday most media attention was on the leak of Winston Peters’ superannuation overpayment, but they also released their full party list.

The top 20:

  1. Rt Hon Winston Peters
  2. Ron Mark
  3. Tracey Martin
  4. Fletcher Tabuteau
  5. Darroch Ball
  6. Clayton Mitchell
  7. Mark Patterson
  8. Shane Jones
  9. Jenny Marcroft
  10. Mahesh Bindra
  11. Pita Paraone
  12. Ria Bond
  13. Denis O’Rourke
  14. David Wilson
  15. Richard Prosser
  16. Jon Reeves
  17. Stu Husband
  18. Andy Foster
  19. Melanie Mark-Shadbolt
  20. Helen Peterson

NZ First currently have 12 MPs. They got 8.66% party vote in the 2014 election.

Key points:

  • 3 newcomers placed ahead of sitting MPs
  • Shane Jones at 8 (requires NZ First vote of about about 6%)
  • Pita Paraone drops 3 places after stepping aside for Jones in Whangarei
  • Richard Prosser drops from 3 to 15
  • Denis O’Rourke drops from 7 to 13
  • 1 female in the top 8, 3 in the top 15

Barbara Stewart, currently NZ First Whip, is not standing again.

Full NZ First list

Details: Our People (does not include non-MP candidates)

NZ First party list

Shane Jones has been placed at 9 on the NZ First party list, which probably outs him behind all the current MPs standing again.

So far named (by RNZ):

  1. Winston Peters
  2. Ron Mark
  3. Tracey Martin
  4. Fletcher Tabuteau
  5. Shane Jones

Jones will need NZ First to get 7.5-8% to get in if he doesn’t win the Whangarei electorate, which looks unlikely.

RNZ:  Shane Jones placed 9th in list ranking

High profile New Zealand First candidate Shane Jones has been ranked at number nine on the party’s list.

New Zealand First Party president Brent Catchpole told Checkpoint with John Campbell there was not any discussion that Mr Jones might like to go higher on the list.

Mr Catchpole said Mr Jones appeared to have no problem being put at number nine.

There are about 57 in total on their list.

Q+A: poll on Whangarei

Q+A look at the Whangarei electorate contest including a poll result between National MP Shane Reti and NZ First’s Shane Jones (see yesterday’s post Shane v Shane Anor (Whangarei).

Colmar Brunton poll for Whangarei:

  • Shane Reti (National) 42%
  • Shane Jones (NZ First) 24%
  • Tony Savage (Labour) 22%
  • Ash Holwell (Greens) 10%
  • Chris Leitch (Democrats for Social Credit)1.7%
  • Robin Grieve (ACT) 0.1%

So a big gap for Jones to close.

Party vote:

  • National 41% (2014 in Whangarei: 50.08%)
  • Labour 37% (17.79%)
  • NZ First 16% (13.36%)
  • Greens 3.6%  (9.77%)
  • Maori 1.3% (0.53%)
  • ACT 1.0% (0.55%)
  • The Opportunities Party 0.4%
  • Other 0.3%

Polled 504 people, margin of error +/- 4.4

That is a worrying result for National in a safe seat, and a very good result for Labour.

Jones has lifted NZ First a bit – and his presence in Whangarei may distort the party support a bit.

Greens have crashed – and with reports of both National and Labour internal polls having Greens around 3-4% they look to have a major problem.



Shane v Shane Anor (Whangarei)

Poorly balanced coverage of the Whangarei electorate from Stuff, promoting one Shane, tacking another on the end (who is likely to win despite media efforts to swing it), and ignoring any other candidates.


The dog just happened to be in the (bloody!) pop up advertising, but it aptly represents the blanket coverage of selected pugs of candidates with the rest ignored.

These are the known candidates for Whangarei (not that Stuff gives a stuff):

  • Robin Grieve (ACT)
  • Ash Howell (Greens)
  • Chris Leitch (Democrats)
  • Tony Savage (Labour)
  • Jim Taylor (Conservative)
  • Shane Reti (National)
  • Shane Jones (NZ First)

Media have a bad habit of excluding candidates they don’t think have a chance so the voters never get a balanced view of what’s on offer.

National MP  Shane Reti would have to do very badly not to get back in. he got 20,111 votes in 2014, with Kelly Ellis (Labour) next with 6,942.

The NZ First candidate Pita Paraone got 4th with 2,944 votes but he has been shunted aside by Winston Peters because Jones, like Peters, gets preferential media attention.

That’s unlikely to be enough to result in a win in Whangarei  for Jones but Peters will probably ensure he gets back into through a favourable list placing.


What’s the most important issue to you?

Jones: “Winning Whangarei and losing weight so that in my victory speech I look svelte and quite agreeable.”

Reti: “Serving the people of Whangarei, listening and meeting their needs.”

Tell us something about yourself people might not know.

Jones: “I fell off a motorbike…in 2005 in Raratonga. TV1 saw me limp through Auckland airport with a great big gash on my leg. When I got to the caucus Helen [Clark] let rip. That was before she learnt diplomacy at the UN.”

Reti: “I drummed for 20 years and then got tired of being the guy who arrived first to set up…when the bass player is standing beside me looking cool. So when I went to Harvard I played bass guitar in an indie band.”

Is the Jacinda effect real?

Jones: “Without a doubt in metropolitan New Zealand. I have not encountered major evidence that it’s sweeping across the voting families of Whangarei.”

Reti: “I’m not seeing it here in Whangarei, people are more interested in talking to me about the economy.”

That’s an interesting double observation.

Why should people vote for you?

Jones: “If you want to have a candidate who will be a minister and who will be at the centre of forming the next government, because without a doubt change is on the way, then they should vote for someone who’s a proven negotiator.”

Reti: “Because Whangarei deserves a hardworking MP who lives in the electorate and has already demonstrated a track record.”

What do you think of the other Shane?

Jones: “He probably would have done better if he’d stayed in the medical field, I don’t think he’s got the stuffing to be a knife fighter sort of politician.”

Reti: “I respect every opponent, and he’ll have my respect as well.”

Whangarei voters can make of that what they like.

TRP Adviser 21 July 2017

This week we learned many things.

The Greens are not 100% pure, the NZ Labour Party has woken from its slumbers and, sorry, Shane, NZ First is still a one-man band.

Metiria Turei’s announcement that she bent the benefit rules was not in itself a particularly shocking revelation. I mean, who hasn’t indulged in some creative accounting, some under the table tax avoidance or some pilfered office supplies?

Paula Bennett, that’s who!

Yes, it turns out that the Sainted Paula led a life of bleak austerity and blind obedience while a beneficiary and it never so much as crossed her mind to forget a flatty or two, get into a relationship without applying for permission from WINZ or start her fledgling property portfolio without fudging the figures.

So those of you thinking that Turei’s mea culpa was actually aimed at embarrassing the Deputy Prime Minister a mere week after a Facebook poster was threatened with legal action for allegedly defaming her should be ashamed of yourselves. Ashamed I say!

The Labour Party has finally come up with a policy that genuinely challenges National. Pitching themselves as the party that will spend our tax dollars on health, education and families rather than tax cuts for the well-off is genius stuff.

Ok, it’s not Sanders or Corbyn level radicalism, but it makes it really simple for voters. If you care for your country, you’ll be voting Labour this election. If you are that self-centred that $20 off your top tier tax bill is more of a priority, then you’ll keep voting National as usual. You heartless bastard.

Well done Labour. More of this, please.

Welcome to NZ First, Shane Jones. Please take a seat at the back and stop talking. In fact, stop anything that resembles a sign of independent thought and just remember this is Winston’s Party and he’ll make up any damn policy he likes any time he likes.

Winston’s brain fart on holding a referendum on the maori seats has backfired beautifully. He’s had to back track on who might vote in the referendum, hinting that it might be just those on the maori roll who get to decide. Then flip flopping on that, because he belatedly realised that maori roll voters had already made up their mind.

Being on the maori roll is a conscious decision. Nobody already on that roll is going to vote to do away with the maori seats. Nobody.

Ok, Winston might gain a redneck vote or two by bashing maori, but he seems to have forgotten that he gets a fair few party votes from those seven seats. Maybe not so much now.

I guess he’ll still get the tick from Shane Jones, who is, ya know, actually on the maori roll. But the message to the newest Peters protégé is clear; you’re not even in my thoughts, big fulla.

Peters wavers over Maori seat referendum

In his speech to the NZ First congress on Sunday Winston Peters said:

I am therefore announcing today that the next government we belong to will offer a binding referendum mid-term to do two things:

Retain or Abolish the Maori seats.

And there will be second referendum on the same day and that will be to Maintain or Reduce the size of Parliament to 100 MPs.

RNZ pointed out: Peters, Jones differ on Māori seats

On the issue of Māori seats (Shane Jones) told The Hui programme he’d keep them but forgot to tell his boss Mr Peters who was put on the spot earlier today.

“That was a long time ago he wasn’t a candidate then.

Morning Report’s Kim Hill pressed Mr Peters again but he held the line and said “No, it wasn’t this month”.

But Mr Jones was officially a New Zealand First candidate when he made the comments just 15 days ago.

“The Māori seats will subsist for as long as people of Māori extraction remain on them or want them to continue, but it’s a kaupapa for the people to decide,” Mr Jones said.

Peters now seems to be rethinking the NZ First position on the referendum.

NZ Herald: NZ First leader Winston Peters hints at re-think on Maori seats referendum

NZ First leader Winston Peters has dismissed suggestions of a revolt in his ranks over the Maori seats, but said he will reveal soon whether his proposed referendum on the future of the seats would be for all voters or for Maori.

Peters announced plans to hold a binding referendum on the future of the seats at his party’s annual conference – a shift from the 2014 position which favoured abolishing the seats but leaving it to Maori themselves to decide when.

That was assumed to be a referendum of all voters – but Peters is now hinting that may not be the case.

Asked about recent comments by both candidate Shane Jones and NZ First MP Pita Paraone about leaving the fate of the seats to Maori voters, Peters said he believed it should be up to Maori.

“Of course it should be up to Maori to decide if the seats go, but I’m making a speech about it very shortly and I will tell you the full parameters of that.

“I’ve heard what has been said by people who have interviewed Pita and maybe others, and the question is whether it is full conscription and I’ll have that answer in a speech I’m giving shortly.”

Perhaps Peters has had a reality check with Maori candidate and Maori voter views.

He may be having a problem with trying to scratch the itch of different voter demographics. Both he and Jones are standing in Northland where there are a lot of Maori voters.

Peters was also incorrect in claiming most Maori weren’t on the Maori roll.

Peters said Maori voters were leaving the Maori seats in their droves and the majority of Maori were on the general roll rather than Maori roll.

However, Electoral Commission statistics show 55 per cent are on the Maori roll and 45 per cent on the general roll.

NZ Herald:

After the last electoral option in 2013, there were 228,718 Maori on the Maori roll and 184,630 on the general roll.

Jones and Paraone are both on the Maori roll.

Peters seems to have announced the referendum ‘bottom line’ without consulting with his Maori candidates.

Peters rejected any suggestion Jones had broken the party line by saying it should be left to Maori, saying Jones made his comments based on the party’s 2014 policy without knowing it was about to change.

“Nothing he said was in conflict with that and he made the point he was going with what he understood the manifesto position to be and he was 100 per cent right. He is not guilty of any sin at all on this score.”

Paraone said he had advocated for a referendum of Maori on the Maori roll only, but accepted the decision caucus made.

“I’d like to see that it’s left to the Maori voters to make that decision, but the announcement has been made.”

Jones said he would leave it to Paraone to comment on the issue as NZ First’s Maori Affairs spokesman. “I abide by the caucus policy.”

Before he abides by caucus policy it sounds like that will have to be determined, as opposed to what Peters said in his speech on Sunday.


With the higher than usual likelihood that NZ First will hold the balance of power with potentially a sizeable bloc of the vote more attention is being given to NZ First policy.

And attention is not just on Peters any more, media are also paying a lot of attention to Jones. It is an unfamiliar situation for Peters, sharing the limelight. Differences will attract attention.

Peters has got away with a lot of policy making on the hoof in the past. This campaign that will be more difficult for him.


Peters saying he’s considering just Maori voting on referendum to abolish seats proves my point about him making policy on the hoof.

On Sunday he was very specific it would be one referendum, two questions, one on Māori seats and one on reducing total MPs.

You can’t have one referendum if you’re having general roll answer one question and Māori roll another. Seems awfully messy!

Jones and Paraone have left him no choice but to throw this out there as an option but it was certainly never the plan. Completely reactive.

Peters has tried to push populist buttons on a new scale, but it may get harder for him to get away with saying contradictory things to different audiences now.

This wavering over the Maori seat referendum also highlights the flexibility of Winston’s implied bottom lines.

If Peters caves on this one it would suggest that any of his campaign demands are negotiable come coalition time.

Maori versus Peters on referendum bottom line

I think NZ First have always had a policy to have a referendum on whether to retain the Maori seats in Parliament or not.

The only different yesterday was Winston Peters saying it was a non-negotiable policy this election. He repeated his party’s referendum policy but made it clear which outcome he wanted – scrapping the seats. The other outcome he no doubt wants is picking up some anti-Maori votes, an easy target against a minority.

Parliament has to balance the need to represent majority wishes with the need to protect minorities. Referendums are useful for some things but are a democratic risk when they attack a minority representation in Parliament.

RNZ:  Peter’s referendum call would sideline Māori – Fox

At his party’s annual convention in Auckland, Mr Peters said the Māori seats should go and promised a mid-term binding referendum on whether to abolish the seven seats. Voters would also decide whether to reduce the number of MPs in Parliament to 100.

“My strategy is to tell everyone out there that you will not be talking to New Zealand First unless you want a referendum on both those issues – mid-term after this election.”

Maori Party list MP Marama Fox (in Parliament through the overall party vote)…

…said the seats could go only when disparity was removed for Māori in this country.

“We have the highest … rates of youth suicide in the world. We have the highest rates of COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) for Māori women in the world.

“We have a shorter life expectancy – and so on and so on and so on, and Winston Peters is merely politicking for votes and trying to take us back to the good old days of colonisation where you stick Māori in the corner and don’t give them a voice.”

Labour Maori electorate MP Kelvin Davis…

…said it was probably smart politics on Mr Peters’ part to attack Māori and politicians in the two-pronged referendum.

“The majority love hearing that sort of stuff: ‘we’re all New Zealanders, we should all be the same’.

“Well, the reality is, tangata whenua have different views, different values and we should be the ones that decide whether those seats stay or go.”

Shane Jones agreed with this earlier this month:

That was also the view of new New Zealand First candidate for Whangārei, Shane Jones, when asked earlier this month on TV3’s The Hui whether Māori seats should stay or go.

He said Māori seats should continue to exist “as long as people of Māori extraction remain on them and want them to continue”.

I think that’s a fair position. As long as every vote is equal as it is under MMP then I don’t have a problem with whether we have Maori electorates or not – in fact if it gives Maori better representation that’s a good thing.

The rest of us should look at how to improve our own representation. Our best way of doing that is by tactical voting in general elections, not in voting away a minority’s preference for their own representation.

Jones put in his place – Whangarei

One of the biggest talking points after Shane Jones joined NZ First officially was whether there would be a clash of egos between Jones and Winston Peters.

NZ First has long been seen as Winston First, and any attention seeking competitors a distant second if they are able to survive a Peters excommunication.

Tracey Watkins asks: Does NZ First need Shane Jones? Can he and Winston Peters get along?

Jones is back from the political dead after what must be one of the longest political courtships ever. When Jones quit Labour in 2014 he was seething with unfulfilled political ambition and he only left because he knew he had hit the ceiling. Even before he left there was talk of him hooking up with Peters.

Jones is back with NZ First for the same reason he left Labour – unfulfilled ambition. Like Peters, Jones has long harboured a dream to be the first Maori Prime Minister. Both of them can’t make it.

They both can’t be first but it’s possible both of them could make it to Prime Minister, Peters next term and after he retires Jones could get there a term or two later if he successfully takes over the leadership of NZ First.

It’s also the first serious move by Peters to give NZ First a future beyond his own political lifespan. It’s always been assumed that NZ First would die with Peters. That never looked to worry the NZ First leader. Tapping Jones, with his obvious ambition, is a shot at keeping the legacy alive.

But it’s risky because Peters is not used to sharing a stage. He’s never had to. Peters’ personality has always been big enough to carry the party on its own. He’s shed more MPs than some people have lost socks – some of them big personalities like Tau Henare – and never missed a beat because NZ First has always been Winston First.

If Peters retires but stays involved he may anoint Jones as successor, but his power in the party will diminish over time.

And Jones has been given the hard word by Peters that he’s not living the diplomatic high life any more. Don’t wait for people to knock on your door, get out and knock on their door, is the message that’s been delivered to Jones. Time for some hard graft, in other words.

Peters also did some legwork himself before naming Jones. There is understood to have been a dinner with local business people and Whangarei leaders to sound them out before he made up his mind to stand Jones in the seat. Those business leaders made it clear Jones would have to pull out all the stops to be taken seriously.

That message has been delivered down the line to Jones. The clear inference is that Jones should stay in his neck of the woods, in Whangarei, and leave the national stage to Peters.

Peters has made sure, in other words, that Jones has got something to prove in Whangarei, where there is a clear expectation he do well.

So it looks like Peters is trying to ring fence Jones in Whangarei.

Hard slog in an electorate and succeeding in an electorate campaign are not things Jones has managed in his political life with Labour.

Peters is giving Jones an opportunity to take over NZ First, but it seems that Jones first has to prove his mettle, confined within one electorate.

How Jones will cope with curbing his ambitions, both behind the scenes and publicly, will be an interesting aspect of the campaign.