“To govern a country, you need experience. And this is not our first rodeo.” 

The ad features Winston Peters. On a horse

Then there’s Shane Jones singing on TikTok

New Zealand First can’t be accused of blending in to the political landscape – and that’s probably the point. 

The party is now polling within a whiff of returning to Parliament, having been written off by many as dead and buried after the 2020 election. 

Peters first stepped into the nation’s halls of power in 1978.

“He’s memorable, I think, for his personality, his politics, his relationships with other political leaders – but also that power,” says Newsroom‘s political editor Jo Moir.

“And the ability to make things happen – or stop them from happening.” 

She told The Detail in February of this year, when New Zealand First was polling virtually nothing, “never count him out”

Moir was the only journalist to be invited onto Winston Peters’ campaign bus in both the 2017 and 2020 election campaigns, when she was working for Stuff and RNZ respectively. 

“That’s an opportunity to see Winston in a slightly different light,” she tells The Detail.

“He is more relaxed when he doesn’t have a whole bunch of people around him, he likes to talk to other people about their life and what they’ve been up to.

“I think probably a little bit of a softer side has been seen through those particular occasions with him – quite revealing.” 

He’s also held some big positions for someone who’s headed a minor party, including acting prime minister, deputy prime minister and the now-defunct role of treasurer, which was created for Peters himself in 1996.

“He’s helped form National and Labour governments, and of course he’s brought them to an end as well.” 

He started out in National but left after Jim Bolger sacked him from Cabinet – which didn’t stop the pair becoming late-night drinking buddies. 

Newsroom‘s co-editor Tim Murphy fills in the details on New Zealand First’s donations scandal and where the court case on that is up to. 

And Stuff political reporter Glenn McConnell (Te Ātiawa) has been covering the party’s 2023 campaign, where the slogan is ‘Let’s take back our country’. 

“It’s a fascinating slogan, isn’t it,” he says. “Take it back from who?”

McConnell says if you look at what really riles up a New Zealand First crowd, it’s stuff like transgender bathrooms, co-governance, child ‘indoctrination’ in education, and bilingual signs. 

“I think it’s taking it back from what they’ve deemed ‘the woke people’. 

Meanwhile those who’ve been with the party a while want to talk about health, trade, and the globalism of the economy. 

Listen to the podcast to find out our experts’ opinions on which version of the party Peters belongs to. 

Check out how to listen to and follow The Detail here.  

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