Tova O'Brien: Well, NZ First leader Winston Peters reckons water is the new wealth, and he has hit out at the Government this year, saying they're negotiating with iwi leaders behind closed doors to carve up freshwater resources. Winston Peters is with me in the studio now. Good morning, Mr Peters. Morena. Ni hao.
Winston Peters: Good morning.
Mark Solomon — we heard him there saying that he wants to see iwi appointed alongside council determining who gets rights to water. I'm sure you've got an opinion on that. What is it?
Well, it confirms what we were saying at the very beginning that there were negotiations. That it's happening behind closed doors. But more importantly, the moment the Government said that no one owned the water and then sold water rights to private interests, and some international with the power company sales, this was going to be all on, and here we've got this playing out now.
Yeah, what you've said in the past — I'll quote yourself back to you. You've said that, 'The Government is sparking a racial conflict that will pit New Zealanders against each other for decades'. What Mark Solomon was saying there is that Ngai Tahu would take a hit as well as any other users using that water source if the source is being depleted. He's talking about equitable shares. I wonder what is so wrong with that.
Well, it's a very adroit explanation but it won't wash. You see, right now Ngai Tahu is appealing ECan's decision with respect to a 7000 hectare conversion from forestry into dairy land. Right there you've got a conflict in terms of what he just said, haven't you?
He's saying 'no price, no ownership'. His argument is that it's not about ownership. It's not about money. It's about kaitiakitanga and guardianship. Do you accept that argument?
I know all about the Maori traditions—
Do you accept that argument that it's not about money?
We said it on the Foreshore and Seabed, and you've got a fiasco going on there. We said it about water; the moment they privatise with respect to power company ownership, which is water...
So you don't believe him?
Well, I'm not saying that I don't believe him, I'm saying that his explanation is exactly what I expected and what I warned about. This is essential for the human existence. It's now going to be in private ownership, be it Maori or European.
He wants co-management, though. How do you think that's going to play out?
Well, the way it's playing out now behind closed doors. If all this was right and proper, why isn't it out in the public? This is like the TPPA. No one knows what's going on, excepting those at the meetings.
Yes or no - do you accept his argument that it's not about money? That is about guardianship? It's not about ownership?
No, I don't. When you talk about water, you're talking about it in the end — if you're going to turn it from a gift of God into a tradable asset, you're talking about money. Let's be honest about that.
I want to talk about something else that you haven't been a wilting violet on, either — foreigners buying up property in Auckland. There was obviously a big hoo-ha caused this week: Labour judging people based on Chinese surnames. Is it fair that Labour just singled out Chinese investors? They didn't look at South Africans, Australians, Americans, Korean surnames. Just Chinese. Is that fair?
Well, before you go any further, there's nothing so antiseptic as the phrase 'I told you so', but I damned well I did and for a long, long time. Now, what Labour has done is try to work with the information they had, which I've got right in this folder here. We had it as well but because we couldn't quantify it, because of the absence of information, we didn't go with it.
I'll come back to that in a second—
Is it fair? Is it fair? Well, if you are facing stark facts of a preponderance of buying from one country because of unique economic circumstances and governmental circumstances in that country, of course it's fair to say it. Anything else is a denial of fact.
So you're saying that Labour's data is stark facts and that it's okay to single out just Chinese buyers?
Look, they didn't single out just Chinese buyers. These figures shout that. And I've been saying for years now that there is a tsunami coming and it's already come, and you've got a massive implosion of demand happening in Auckland and you've got Mr Smith on this programme a little while ago dancing on a pinhead, making a fool of himself. Now, why don't we just own up to the fact that this is not good for the aspirations of New Zealanders who once were one of the highest property-owned democracies in the world, to not have a chance in their own country any more.
If you flip open that folder because this morning you're suddenly popping up saying that you've got the same data as Labour. Labour released it a week ago on this programme and in the Weekend Herald. Why didn't you mention it before? Show me the folder.
No, I'll show you privately but I'm not going to let you see the name on it.
Why are you only mentioning it today?
Well, I'm not just mentioning it today. I have said this over and over again. I made speeches in Rotorua recently. I made it at the start of the year. You have decided to ignore it. You have decided to ignore—
Why didn't you use that data?
Because the data— Because the data does not quantify with exactitude what I'm talking about.
But you're arguing that it reinforces your argument.
Let me just rein this back to you. Who has a land and home register bill in front of Parliament, has it there for years?
I do, yes, because I want the facts, and what I think is comedic if it weren't so tragic, is the Government is saying that the Labour Party can't be right because we don't have the information. Isn't that tragic? And Mr Smith was on your programme just about 10 minutes ago denying the sense of having a register. Now, how moronic is that?
If I had a dollar for every time that you've said 'I told you so' or 'imitation is the sincerest form of flattery' when it comes to someone else's policy, I'd be a very rich woman owning properties up in your electorate. This week Labour has stolen your thunder, though. They have out-Winstoned Winston. Are you worried they're going to start cutting into your support base and stealing New Zealand First votes?
No. I'm not concerned in the slightest. In fact, we welcome it. We want New Zealanders to know that not just one party is right on this matter.
This is a beautiful budding relationship between you and Labour?
You see, in a way, you've gone shading off the critical issue of ownership and supply in this country, which is seriously inadequate. Demand is massive. The imbalance is what we're talking about. And let's give it some economic—
Let's just really quickly touch on kereru, because we don't have much time. Sonny Tau has been charged with killing and possessing the birds. He's also chair of Ngapuhi. He's remained on the board of the board negotiating the Treaty settlement with the Government for Ngapuhi. Is it okay that he remains in those roles while popping up in the dock, his first court appearance this week. Does Sonny Tau need to go?
Well, first of all, he didn't kill the birds. Somebody else did, and that's the person that the Department of Conservation should've got on to. They were watching him, and he's the person that gave them to Sonny in the first place. A bit of research matters, you know? The second thing is the Maori people up there have to give that answer, because it is a breach of the law, it is a rare species, it is in some parts of the country threatened, and so he'll have to answer for that. And the people up there will have to answer as well. Let me tell you that the decisions that are made up there won't just be around Sonny Tau. It'll be around whether there's a unified approach of the people in the north or Ngapuhi, the wider expanse of it, to ensure there is a settlement. And if that happens, it'll be very beneficial.
This is the last time I will say finally. Nick Smith has finally said that the Government will get the housing shortage down in Auckland by next year. Do you believe that it can do that?
Well, you know the facts. We have 57,000 net immigration to New Zealand. That's net– about 114,000, but net 57,000. Of that, about 42,000 are coming to Auckland. Look at that. 8000 consents and not homes – 8000 consents doesn't even cut it for the immigrants, let alone all the rest of the young people in this country.
All right, Mr Peters.
It won't work.
Thank you very much for your time. Always a pleasure, especially when you behave yourself.
I beg your pardon?
Transcript provided by Able. www.able.co.nz