NZ First leader Winston Peters compares co-governance to Nazi Germany, takes aim at record immigration in State of the Nation speech

Deputy Prime Minister and NZ First leader Winston Peters has compared co-governance to Nazi Germany in a fiery State of the Nation speech.  

He entered the event at Palmerston North's Convention Centre on Sunday to the Chumbawamba chorus "I get knocked down, but I get up again" as supporters cheered him on. 

Peters began his speech by telling the hundreds gathered at the centre about what he saw as the previous government's failings, including "racist co-governance". 

"Their (Māori) DNA made them somehow better than others – I've seen that sort of philosophy before, I saw it in Nazi Germany, we all did. We've seen it elsewhere around the world in the horrors of history," Peters said. 

It appears the Nazi comment was off-the-cuff, as a transcript of Peters' speech sent out to media made no mention of Nazi Germany.  

"When you have the audacity to say there's something dramatically wrong here, not just about the policy but the lack of warning, they shout 'racist'," Peters said. 

Holocaust Centre of New Zealand spokesman Ben Kepes told Newshub politicians needed to be "careful with their words" when it comes to speaking about the Holocaust or Nazi era.

Kepes said it was "a singular event in history" which should not be used for gain in other areas.

"Words are very important."

It's not the first time Peters has made comparisons about co-governance.  

In October 2022, he told a Christchurch audience that co-governance with Māori was akin to apartheid

"With no handbrake, they are ramming it down your throats," he said at the time. 

However, speaking on Sunday, Peters went on to say the "most awful thing to happen" was the "uncontrollable level of new migrants entering our country". 

"Over 133,000 net in 2023 alone, none of which was forecast or told to you. 

"That's more than our total population of Dunedin in just 12 months last year. Now where was the funding and plan for any sort of infrastructure to cope with such numbers, let alone the demands that were there before they even came?" 

Peters noted New Zealand's struggling health, education and housing sectors. 

"Any political party or government who can do that should go out of power and stay out of power," he said. 

"No, we're not xenophobic, we're just not zombies. We want an immigration plan to ensure that every immigrant gets a fair go in our country the way they used to one time when we were number one in the world." 

Before the 2023 election, National leader, now Prime Minister, Christopher Luxon vowed to boost immigration as a way to get New Zealand out of recession. 

"Migration does have huge tax benefits for us. It does have economic multiplier effects," Luxon said in September. 

However, in a U-turn, in December Luxon said high net migration was not sustainable for New Zealand.