Winston Peters will 'never' choose a successor

Winston Peters says he won't be picking a successor to take the reins at New Zealand First when he calls time on his lengthy political career.

The Acting Prime Minister first became an MP in 1979, and has spent 33 of the following 39 years in Parliament.

He formed NZ First in the early 1990s after falling out with the National Party, and this weekend was celebrating the party's 25th birthday at its AGM in Tauranga.

"I can't remember when I first turned 25," he joked to Newshub Nation host Lisa Owen on Saturday morning.

The laughs were short-lived however, with Owen struggling to get an answer out of the notoriously fractious Mr Peters over the next 12 minutes.

Winston Peters.
Winston Peters. Photo credit: Newshub Nation.

Asked how he would have handled the Meka Whaitiri situation if she was one of his MPs, Mr Peters said he wasn't on the show to talk about that.

"I'm here to talk about a party that's survived a quarter of a century, the second-longest surviving party in this country's history that hasn't changed its name."

Asked whether he'd had any contact with top cop Wally Haumaha after an inquiry was launched into his appointment, Mr Peters said he "can't believe you're wasting my or your viewership's time".

"[National MP Chris] Bishop said he had a revelation, and if he's got a revelation, why hasn't he shown you that? That's what a revelation means. No, he made a vile allegation, couldn't prove it, and now you're asking me questions about it...

"You can't make baseless allegations without putting up the facts. He hasn't? Why aren't you talking to him about that and not wasting my time?"

Asked if his party was going to back the Employment Relations Amendment Bill in the form proposed by coalition partner Labour, Mr Peters said he was sick of talking about it.

"Your colleagues have been asking this tedious question now for the last three weeks. You've had the same answers for the last three weeks. Now, can we talk about a party called New Zealand First?"

As for whether NZ First would support Whanau Ora if the present review found it was a good use of taxpayer money, Mr Peters said he wasn't "going to be answering questions about a hypothetical that was another party's pre-election commitment which is not part of the coalition agreement".

"This is seriously regrettable that at my party's 25th year conference, that the line of questioning should be about every other political party but ours."

When Owen said she would ask him about NZ First, Mr Peters looked at his watch and said: "Thank heavens for that - how long did that take you?"

Owen reminded him he was not just the leader of NZ First, but also the Acting Prime Minister - which appeared to get under his skin.

"Stop right now Lisa," he told her. "I don't want to make this contentious. I'm a very reasonable guy, as you know."

She then asked him if he was keen to see "this configuration" of Government  continue after the 2020 election.

"What configuration is that?" responded Mr Peters. Owen clarified she meant the NZ First-Labour coalition, with Green support.

"We look at all possibilities," he said. "Unlike all the other parties we don't go in with a prearrangement behind the voters' backs. We wait to see what the voters have delivered to us - we have for 25 long years. When the voters have spoken… then we respond. And we'll do that next time, as we always have."

After railing against media polling and the Electoral Commission's voter data, Mr Peters - 73 years old - was asked whether he had a succession plan.

"What about you and your job and your succession plan?" he snapped back at Owen, presenting Newshub Nation for the last time.

"I didn't really come on this programme in our 25th year of what's been a glorious party record where we've faced all the media criticism and more spurious comment than any other political party and survived the whole lot, to start talking about a succession plan. That will be over to my party board, my party membership and above all my caucus colleagues. It has never been, and will never be, over to me."

She asked if the topic would come up at the party's AGM. He said no, not even if she thought it was a good idea.

Newshub.

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