Peters: NZ First will decide 2017 election

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters (Simon Wong)
New Zealand First leader Winston Peters (Simon Wong)

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters says he will be more powerful than ever by the next election and will decide the next government.

The veteran MP is holding the party's annual conference in Rotorua, and also vowed to resign as leader if he doesn't grow his party by tens of thousands of members in the next two years.

Mr Peters' first job of the day was to hurl criticisms at the media – "your polls are crap", "stop this nonsense" and "you ask some stupid questions". Mr Peters also launched an attack on the Greens, saying it cost the Left last year's election by attacking Labour, adding the Greens will be irrelevant by 2017.

"Every Green voter knows they can't make it," says Mr Peters.

The latest 3 News poll has Mr Peters as kingmaker. Emboldened by his win in the Northland by-election, the "king" doesn't want you to forget that. He says he will be at the height of his power in 2017 and will decide the next government.

"I expect us to do better than we've ever done before by miles."

Greens co-leader James Shaw tweeted: "Dreams are free."

"James has been in the game five minutes," says Mr Peters.

Mr Peters also vowed to grow the party membership by more than 10,000 members, or he'll resign. Moments later, he did a dramatic U-turn, claiming he didn't say that.

"Maybe I didn't hear it properly."

Former Labour MP Shane Jones is widely rumoured to be considering a parliamentary comeback for New Zealand First, and Mr Peters is leaving the door open for that.

"I've got a lot of respect for Shane as you know," says Mr Peters. "I've been highly supportive of him in the past. He's a highly intelligent guy."

So Mr Peters is rallying his troops with a good, old-fashioned lash-out.

3 News