John Key eyes fourth term

Prime Minister John Key (Simon Wong)
Prime Minister John Key (Simon Wong)

Prime Minister John Key has given his strongest indication yet he'll run for a fourth term as Prime Minister.

While Mr Key declined an interview on the subject today, his campaign manager, Steven Joyce, told 3 News the National Party had known about his intentions for quite some time.

And while Mr Key is remaining tight-lipped, tongues were definitely wagging at Ratana, before the politicians arrive en masse tomorrow.

The band is ready to march Mr Key on to Ratana Pa tomorrow to kick start the political year. But Mr Key has more than just tomorrow in his sights. He's considering running for Prime Minister again in next year's election, and his colleagues say he could lead them to a rare fourth term in Government.

If Mr Key were to be re-elected as Prime Minister in 2017, it would be his fourth term at the wheel. The last Prime Minister to achieve that was National's Sir Keith Holyoake, who held office for just under 12 years.

Right-wing political commentator Matthew Hooton says the question isn't whether Mr Key will run; it's whether he'll stay in office for the entire fourth term.

"People want to know they're voting for John Key for another three years, not just for the National Party," says Mr Hooton.

But if the Prime Minister thinks he'll get that same support at Ratana, he could be dreaming. The Ratana Church has a long-standing alliance with the Labour Party, and Maori Party co-leader Marama Fox says the National Government has a lot of work to do when it comes to winning Maori over.

"We need to show real gains," she says. "We need to show a better standard of living. We need to improve housing homelessness poverty."

That's not the only fight Mr Key has on his hands; his main political opponent, Labour leader Andrew Little, will be at tomorrow's celebrations too, and he has a similar vision to be Prime Minister come election night next year.

But it's a long way to the finish line. We're still at least 18 months out from either party realising their dream, and the Prime Minister has a more immediate challenge tomorrow. Some are predicting TPP protests at Ratana, which might not sit well at such a peaceful and celebratory religious gathering.

3 News