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Winston on a whistle-stop

NZ First leader Winston Peters’ public meeting in Masterton yesterday attracted an audience of over 200 – a large enough crowd that staff at the Copthorne Hotel had to hurriedly set up more chairs to accommodate them.

Prior to Peters’ arrival, a campaign video was played in which he ran through his self-selected greatest political hits [including the introduction of the Super Gold Card, the Winebox Inquiry, the Māori loan affair, and talking to anti-mandate protestors occupying Parliament’s grounds] and made his primary pitch: “Someone has to keep the system honest.”

Finally arriving about 15 after the advertised 1pm start, his apology for his tardiness prompted applause and laughter when he added by way of explanation, “You’ve got some of the slowest roads in the country!”

Peters then gave an account of working in Wairarapa on a challenge of the region’s 1987 election result that ultimately saw National’s Wyatt Creech unseat Labour’s Reg Boorman, before launching into a lengthy critique of mainstream media – particularly its coverage of Winston Peters – which he labelled “bovine scatology”, and promising a commission of inquiry into the “compliant media” and the “leftist shills” who work in it, to murmurs of approval from the audience.

Apparently speaking without notes, Peters spent about an hour working the crowd like a seasoned stand-up comic riffing on his road-tested material, which included duly decrying the “racism, separatism, and apartheid” of various government policies, vowing to crack down on crime, mocking the competence of his political opponents, and bemoaning how everything’s “gone from mad to worse”.

A Q and A segment after his address saw Peters responding to a range of questions.

They included topics such as fluoridation of the water supply [he favours such matters being “decided by local people”], whether he’d support central government funding of school truancy programmes like the one being self-funded by several Wairarapa schools [possibly, although he seemed more interested in stressing how parents of absent students should be sanctioned], and whether the covid-19 vaccination exemptions that Te Whatu Ora apparently granted to thousands of health sector workers while others were mandated out of their jobs would be part of his commission of inquiry into NZ’s pandemic response [yes, along with the popular assertion that the former prime minister “should have to come back to face questions”].

Proving he had the measure of the crowd, Peters finished with another crack about Waka Kotahi being “a boat on the road” before he exited stage left and skilfully gladhanded his way through the adoring throng, pausing only for a few selfies and a brief confrontation with ex-ad man John Ansell, who accused him of reneging on a coalition agreement bottom line after the 2017 election.

“Listen sunshine, naff off. Naff off. Don’t tell me I tell lies,” Peters said, before climbing into his car and getting back on the campaign trail.


    • To be fair, Peters explained to attendees that he couldn’t linger as long as he normally does after such events because he had to get to Palmerston North to catch a flight to Auckland.

  1. Storm in a tea 🍵 my way or the highway 🛣 🤔. Left? Right ✅ no idea. What is the policy 🤔. MMP the tail wags dog 🐕 🤔. How our great country has changed.

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