Winston Peters slams questions about sending friends to Antarctica as 'racist attack'

Winston Peters.
Winston Peters. Photo credit: Newshub.

Winston Peters' has blasted what he says is a "racist attack" from journalists after he was asked about his decision to send two friends to Antarctica on the taxpayer dollar.

On Wednesday RNZ revealed Peters' directed Antarctica New Zealand to take his friends Bee Lin Chew and her daughter Su Arn Kwek to Scott Base despite pushback from the taxpayer-funded organisation 

Emails supplied to RNZ via an Official Information Act request show Antarctica New Zealand trying to deny the request as only one spot was available and it was meant for a Government minister.

Antarctica New Zealand warned it may have to cut essential staff or science programmes to send the two women, who are linked to one of South East Asia's richest families.

It managed to fulfill Peters' request in line with "firmly held" views from Peters' office, reports RNZ.

When asked about the trip by reporters on Wednesday afternoon Peters said he "despised" the line of questioning. 

"I despise this racist attack on innocent people and I'm not going to give it the option of respectability," he said.

He would not answer why he thought it was racist but said "I know why it was done and I despise the way it was put together."

Peters says the visit was about raising $50 million in public donations to rebuild Scott Base - an initiative to which $18.5 million has been committed by the Government. 

He added Kwek and Chew had not yet pledged any money towards the rebuild.

"They have not given any money at this point in time, nor have they been asked to give any money." 

In Parliament Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern backed Peters' saying she understood Chew and Kwek visited in relation to the rebuild.

"We are interested in redeveloping Scott Base and that was the interest in which those people visited," she told the Opposition.