Winston Peters has penned a call to action to his NZ First supporters – the first they’ve heard from him since his two-minute appearance on election night, writes political editor Jo Moir
On June 19, New Zealand First members, former MPs and leader Winston Peters will convene in Auckland for their first AGM since that fateful election night loss on October 17.
Over the last five months the caucus, which catapulted Jacinda Ardern to Prime Minister in 2017, has for the most part gone to ground.
Shane Jones is doing house extensions in Northland, Tracey Martin has picked up work with the Ministry of Education, Jenny Marcroft is back working in media, Ron Mark is playing country music in regional New Zealand, Darroch Ball is with the Sensible Sentencing Trust and is the new party board chair, Mark Patterson has returned to the farm and deputy leader Fletcher Tabuteau and Peters are both still working out their next steps.
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Martin and Marcroft both ended their membership with the party earlier this year.
The AGM will be an opportunity for members to read two reviews after the party set up sub-committees to take a “warts-and-all’’ look at what led to its downfall.
One is reviewing the entire election campaign up until the results rolled in and the other is taking a wider look at the party’s constitution.
“The economic fallout of Covid, here and abroad, has been dramatic. Worldwide 2.5 million Covid victims have died. Cures, remedies, and oral alternatives are still at a very early stage.”
– Winston Peters
On Monday, members were sent a newsletter confirming the AGM, which included a message from Peters who, for now at least, is staying on as leader.
“Beginning the third decade of the 21st century is proving a challenge for New Zealanders. Covid is still with us and will be for a considerable time,’’ Peters wrote.
“The economic fallout of Covid, here and abroad, has been dramatic. Worldwide 2.5 million Covid victims have died. Cures, remedies, and oral alternatives are still at a very early stage.
“The political impact worldwide has been varied with unpredictable consequences. What is foreseeable is that how politicians and parties respond to old and new challenges will reset the future political landscape.
“How we in New Zealand First respond to our latest setback is critical. Having met all our debts, we must now rebuild again for one more beginning,’’ Peters told his supporters.
Some of those debts include money owed to Peters, after he loaned roughly $180,000 to the party – initially $60,000 in October and then another $120,186.57 the month after.
The financial position of the party will no doubt be raised at the AGM – last time New Zealand First was fighting for its return it did so from the garage of Tracey Martin and her mother and long-time board member Anne Martin.
A new board will be elected in June and those spoken to in the party said it was important to get the mix right if it was going to be in a position to win again in 2023.