NZ First and Greens fighting for survival, trying to kill each other off amid Green School debacle

The James Shaw political pile-on is off the charts after Newshub revealed he strong-armed ministerial colleagues to get funding for the controversial privately-owned Taranaki Green School.

NZ First leader Winston Peters is calling it one of the worst things he's seen in his political career and is warning of "repercussions" over the funding, while National says the Greens should be ashamed and that Shaw must resign. 

Labour, NZ First and the Greens almost held it together an entire term, but as the election drew near, the raw disdain between the Greens and New Zealand First bubbled forth.

Peters said in July his party "opposed woke pixie dust", while Shaw described New Zealand First as a "chaotic and disorganised" partner in Government.

"You can almost see the advertisements, can't you? New Zealand First - you can stop progress," Shaw joked in his adjournment speech last month.

But ironically Shaw has now been caught out holding his ministerial colleagues to political ransom, stalling progress to get his own way.

Newshub revealed on Tuesday Shaw's office emailed his ministerial colleagues strong-arming them with an ultimatum, refusing to sign off on projects in a $3 billion infrastructure fund unless he got dosh for the controversial Green School.

Shaw told Newshub on Wednesday he "didn't hold anybody to ransom", but Peters sees it differently.

"If you can't win by logic and by reason and by the soundness of your proposal then that's no way to behave," the NZ First leader told Newshub.

"It's pretty bad. I've never seen anything like this before. Maybe it has happened but not in that naked, inexperienced way."

Shaw said: "I had a number of other projects that I was concerned about as well that weren't in that final briefing, and so I wasn't prepared to sign it out until I had those questions answered."

But no other projects were mentioned in the threat - just his demand for Green School funding.

National's education spokesperson Nicola Willis is outraged.

"Who won that ultimatum? Who won that stand-off? The Green Party did. Politics won, the Green School won, and New Zealand taxpayers lost, and you should all be ashamed of yourselves," she said in Parliament.

National Party leader Judith Collins has called for Shaw's resignation.

"What we've seen from James Shaw is absolute rank hypocrisy," she said on Wednesday. "I thought he was going to resign yesterday."

Shaw told Newshub he has not reconsidered offering his resignation. But he has spoken to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and apologised to his ministerial colleagues.

The Prime Minister said there will be different views in a Government of three political parties.

"Obviously as a coalition Government working with three different parties, there will often be different perspectives," she said on Wednesday.

You can say that again - Shaw has made it clear he thinks Peters is a handbrake on progress.

Peters responded, "Well, a handbrake on stupid ideas is not a handbrake on progress."

Shaw said Peters will say anything to get re-elected.

"Winston Peters is fighting for his political survival and so he will say what he says in order to try and ensure he's back in Parliament after the election," he told Newshub.

Thanks to Shaw, the Greens are now fighting for their political survival too.

"Oh, there will be repercussions," Peters said. "I'll leave it to the people of New Zealand to decide whether that's the proper way to behave."

Asked if he thinks the Greens will make it back into Parliament, Peters said: "I'm just saying I'll leave it to the people of this country to decide. They expect a certain standard of accountability and transparency and you're not getting it."

Analysis by Political Editor Tova O'Brien

It's almost impossible to see James Shaw resigning before the election; definitely not from his ministerial roles. He played a stupid game of political brinkmanship and it backfired but he's right that it's not a resignation offence.

His penance really lies with the Green Party and its supporters - they hated this Green School deal and Shaw's handling of it is ugly.

But he won't quit the co-leadership now - that would leave the party in tatters and they'd almost certainly not make it back into Parliament. 

One thing that is looking clear: the chances of the Greens and NZ First working together again are infinitesimal and they probably won't have to. 

Both sides are fighting for political survival - both fighting to kill the other off.