Newshub Nation: The Green Parrot - a peek into Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters' Wellington sanctum

The Green Parrot restaurant in Wellington has been home to business and banter between the country's powerful and prominent for 97 years.  

With regular patrons ranging from Robert Muldoon and Mike Moore to John Key and Jacinda Ardern, the Green Parrot is an unofficial extension of Parliament, so Newshub Nation senior reporter Laura Walters spoke to its owners and some of its most dedicated patrons.   

Iconic Kiwi broadcaster Mark Sainsbury said that, in his time, politicians would come to the Green Parrot and mix and mingle with media and opposition alike, "and you'd have a great time".  

"Plus, it was open late, and you could smoke, which was the big thing," he said.

"The food was fantastic, and it just became an institution."  

The Green Parrot has long functioned as a demilitarized zone where MPs could leave behind all the scraps of Parliament and enjoy a beer together.   

Green Parrot Club founding memeber Grant Nisbett recalled a time "John Key walked in and he said gidday, went to his seat, and then about ten minutes later he came back with a bottle of Steinlager and sat down and had a yarn for about 30 minutes".  

"You never knew on any night who was going to turn up," Sainsbury said.

However, there's one politician at least a little more likely to turn up than others: Winston Peters. 

"Winston was by far the most famous customer of them all, he really made it his place," Sainsbury said.

Peters, the Green Parrot, and his regular table, are one of the most enduring partnerships in New Zealand political history.  

Now that he's back in the capital, you can bet the Deputy Prime Minister will be visiting his old haunt every chance he gets.   

Co-owner Chris Sakoufakis said, while he has his regular spot, Peters "also likes to mingle with all the customers as well".

"So he's always open to people coming up to chatting to him. He's always got time for other people, which is really nice to see."  

The Green Parrot opened in 1926, fast becoming popular amongst dockworkers, police officers, and American servicemen.   

In the 1970s, MPs started pouring through the door and never really stopped.  

Sainsbury said that one of the Parrot's main benefits is that it's open late.  

"If you're an MP, you finish, you know, 10:30 at night. Where else are you going to go?"  

However, that may soon change.  

After over 50 years, the Sakoufakis family is selling up.  

"The Green Parrot’s more like a home away from home," Chris said.  

"I've spent more time here than I have in my actual home and it's been sweat, tears and blood spilled into the restaurant."  

Former politicians, pundits and waitstaff speak fondly of a place where generations of Wellingtonians have rubbed shoulders with prime ministers, movie stars, and sporting greats.   

There have been late-night singalongs, projectile butter cubes, the odd dine and dash, and naturally, some scandal.  

"I don't think the normal laws of New Zealand applied in the earlier days in the Green Parrot," Nisbett said.  

But you'll be hard-pressed to get too many details, as Sakoufakis said: "We do have a golden rule in here. What happens in the Green Parrot stays in the Green Parrot."

Without a doubt, the Green Parrot and its goings-on have charmed patrons, but it's also made a lifelong impression on co-owner Kosta Sakoufakis.  

"We’ve been here 58 years, something like that," he said.  

"My first brother bought it, and I used to work here. I thought 'We’ve got to buy a business and make a little bit of money', and I bought it."  

Kosta knows that running a restaurant is a young man's game, but he has no plans to completely fly the coop just yet.  

"If I sell out, I'm going to miss it," he said.  

"Whoever buys the place, I'll apply to stay. I don’t want pay. I just want to be here, passing a few hours.  

"I don't want to miss it. I'll go home and do what? Watch TV? No. I've never done that in my life." 

Watch the full video for more.    

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Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air.