Labour's Willie Jackson heaps praise on ousted Winston Peters with Ardern set to pick new Cabinet

Labour MP Willie Jackson has paid tribute to the "great career" of Winston Peters after the outgoing Deputy Prime Minister was ousted from Parliament at last month's election.

Peters' NZ First party didn't meet the 5 percent vote threshold needed to get back into Parliament, obtaining just 2.7 percent.

The 75-year-old, originally a National Party MP, has had a career spanning decades, and the future of Peters' political career and NZ First remains unclear.

Peters declined to be interviewed by Newshub last week.

Jackson said in a Facebook post on Sunday he wanted to pay his respects to the "probable" end of Peters' career.

"He first entered Parliament as a National Party candidate in 1978 after fighting for Māori land rights to stop a plan to establish coastal-land reserves on ancestral land in the Whangarei coastal area. So believe it or not Winston has a history as a Māori rights fighter although I'm pretty sure that's not how he would describe himself.

"I actually was quite anti him before 1996 because as well as his negative migrant rhetoric, I felt he put the boot into Māori far too often. He then stunned the Māori world and no doubt the Pākehā world when he won all the Māori seats from Labour."

Jackson praised Peters for turning "the racist stereotype of being Māori on its head".

"He was suave, confident, and well-dressed and Pākehā didn't know what to do with him."

Peters should have been the leader of The National Party when he was there, Jackson said.

"It was amazing how our people embraced him they ignored his past anti-Māori strategies."

Jackson concluded by saying Peters had served New Zealand "faithfully".

"Winston could come back because if anyone can Winston can.

"However one thing is certain we won't see another politician like him ever again."

NZ First didn't make it back to Parliament after the 2008 election but made a comeback in 2011 where it was in Opposition. 

Peters became Deputy Prime Minister in 2017 after his party earned enough votes to become kingmaker, forming a coalition with Labour.