Winston Peters misses NZ First campaign rally after 'unexpected medical event'

Winston Peters misses NZ First campaign rally after 'unexpected medical event'
Photo credit: Newshub


New Zealand First is holding its 'Force for the North' campaign rally in Whangarei this afternoon, without leader Winston Peters.

The event at Forum North this afternoon was supposed to be the party's official campaign launch, until Peters had to take medical leave earlier this week.

The party will now combine its campaign launch with the Party AGM on Sunday July 19, which Peters is expected to attend.

NZ First deputy leader Fletcher Tabuteau said it will be a change not having Peters there at today's event.

"We will miss him dearly, but we hope we can put on a show as it were, to make sure people understand that New Zealand First is as strong as it has ever been," he said.

Today's events will have Northland and Whangarei candidates Shane Jones and David Wilson present.

Tabuteau said the party wants to show Northland their candidates are a "force for the north."

"It's a different focus now [from the launch] it's about what New Zealand First represents for Northland, what we have done and what we intend to do," he said.

Northport is set to be a talking point.

The government has recently released a report touting Manukau Harbour as the preferred option for relocating the Port of Auckland - although consenting could be problematic.

An earlier report by the Upper North Island Supply Chain Strategy Independent Working Group had previously identified Northport as the preferred option.

A decision won't be made until after the election.

Senior New Zealand First MP Shane Jones was on record saying his party supported move to Northport instead.

Discussion on the port will happen not only today, but during the rest of the election campaign, Tabuteau said.

"We know that Northport is essential for not only Northland but for progressing Auckland, so these conversations are vital," he said.

Jones will be going up against National MP Matt King.

"I think we are in for a good battle up there and looking forward to it quite frankly," he said.