Surprising only 70 percent of New Zealanders don't want Winston Peters back - Peter Dunne

Former United Future leader Peter Dunne says Winston Peters' got exactly what he wanted from his first speech since last year's election.

NZ First and former Deputy Prime Minister Peters re-appeared on Sunday after laying low following his election loss last year. He went straight on the attack against the party he used to work with.

"Labour has just delivered a Budget for its base - amazing how it was seen by the commentariat. It's as though they don't remember any part of this country's great history," Peters told NZ First's AGM.

Political pundits have said Peters could try to find his way back in the political world - in an attempt to re-establish NZ First as an independent entity. 

"This was the big tease yesterday - we didn't get the definite answer. He hasn't said whether he's coming back or not, he's just simply said, 'we're back' which is a very vague phrase," Dunne told The AM Show on Monday.

"The big thing about it from his point of view is we're all talking about him."

But despite Peters' passionate speech, the results of a May Newshub-Reid Research poll released on Sunday showed 70.1 percent of New Zealanders don't want him to return to politics. 

"I was a little surprised the figure wasn't higher, frankly - given where things ended up at the end of last year," Dunne said of the poll.

However, he believes Peters returning to Parliament is a possibility - albeit a tough one.

"It's a bigger task than it's ever been before and it's getting harder and harder for small parties to climb that mountain.

"He's got two targets at the moment; one is clearly that very disaffected National vote - that grumpy National vote that isn't happy where the National Party is at.

"The other is… that whole group out there who may be disaffected by the tenor of the current Government's moves on the race relations front. That's pretty dangerous territory to try and get into if you want to try and milk those and pluck those for votes."

Earlier, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern wouldn't say whether she'd work with her former Deputy again.

"You won't hear me criticise Winston Peters - we've always had a really respectful relationship and I'm not going to rewrite history.

"We, over three years, did a lot of things I feel very proud of."