Endgame: Will Winston Peters Blow Up The Coalition Over Ihumatao?


IS WINSTON PETERS planning to blow up the Coalition Government over Ihumatao? Sean Plunket has been reporting and analysing New Zealand politics for a long time, and he thinks that Winston just might be getting ready to do exactly that. Certainly, the last few days have witnessed Peters and NZ First’s prolix bovver-boy, Shane Jones, heaping plenty of disparagement upon the Ihumatao protesters. While his leader dismissed the protesters as “outsiders”, Jones drew the voters’ attention to their politically disqualifying “yoga pants”. These are not the sort of comments calculated to facilitate an equitable solution to the Ihumatao problem.

Why would Peters want to blow up the government he helped to forge? The bleedingly, bloody obvious answer is that NZ First’s ongoing participation in the Coalition is causing it to haemorrhage voter support. The party is already well below the 5 percent MMP threshold, and Labour has yet to gift NZ First an electorate seat lifeboat of the sort Act’s David Seymour received from National in Epsom.

Without that insurance policy against continuing sub-5 percent poll numbers, Peters and his party are acutely vulnerable. All Simon Bridges has to do is let the clock run out on the 2020 General Election and then announce that National has ruled-out NZ First as a potential coalition partner. What’s left of Peters support would instantly defect to Labour for fear of seeing their votes ending-up in National’s column. Game over.

Or, Peters could put himself at the head of all those New Zealanders who refuse to countenance the Coalition Government caving-in to the Ihumatao protesters. The most effective way of doing this would be to issue Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern with an ultimatum. If she refuses to uphold the legal agreement between the officially recognised mana whenua of Ihumatao and Fletchers, then NZ First will be obliged to withdraw from its coalition agreement with Labour.

That would put Jacinda in a hell of a fix.

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Accepting Peters’ uncompromising position on Ihumatao would require the Coalition to clear the occupation site of protesters. Undoubtedly, there would be an electoral upside to such an unequivocal demonstration of state power. NZ First would benefit enormously, quite possibly to the extent of drawing back some of those who defected from the party after Peters threw in his lot with Labour.

They would not be the only ones, however. Labour, too, would benefit: strengthening its grip on traditional Pakeha supporters – just as it did when Helen Clark overturned the Court of Appeal’s judgement on the ownership of the foreshore and seabed. Whether that would be enough to offset the almost certain loss of the Maori seats, and the absolutely certain defection of young, progressive voters to the Greens is much less certain.

All up, however, the Peters option would introduce a level of ideological tension into the Coalition that would render it even more dysfunctional than it is at present. It would also place Jacinda in the same prime-ministerial club as Bill Massey, Syd Holland and Rob Muldoon. Rather than her legacy being one of kindness and compassion, she would be remembered as the Labour Prime Minister who laid waste Ihumatao’s occupation camp and arrested its protectors. Like Massey’s Cossacks, the 1951 Lockout, Bastion Point and the 1981 Springbok Tour, the name “Ihumatao” would find its place in the New Zealand lexicon of political infamy – alongside “Ardern”.

Rather than accept such a grim legacy, Jacinda would, almost certainly, ask the Governor General to dissolve Parliament and call a new election.

The sharp political polarisation that would, inevitably, follow such a dramatic move would leave little room for Peters and his party. Unless he was able to strike a deal with Simon Bridges and secure for himself, or Shane Jones, the seat of Northland, NZ First would be out of Parliament.

Labour’s survival would necessitate a decisive shift to the left. An electorate deal with the Greens in Wellington Central would also be required. Freed at last from NZ First’s right-wing shackles, Jacinda could go to the country with the promise of a genuinely progressive government. The slogan – “Let’s do this properly!” – springs to mind.

The outcome of the election would likely be decided by the size of the voter turnout. If Labour and the Greens were able to successfully cast the contest as a battle between the racism and selfishness of the old versus the diversity and generosity of the young – and then persuade the young to get out and vote – who knows, they just might win.

Or, as Sean Plunket would no doubt call the result: “Middle New Zealand” buries Jacinda and her woke army of “progressives” beneath a landslide of Te Riri Pakeha – the white man’s anger. In the final scene, Simon Bridges and Winston Peters (or is that Shane Jones?) appear in silhouette atop the wreckage: shaking hands as the sun sets on Labour’s, the Greens’ – and Ihumatao’s – shattered dreams.



  1. NZ First won’t benefit enormously by clearing the site.
    Most kiwis a) don’t live in Auckland and b) rightly or wrongly don’t really care because it doesn’t affect them.
    Winston has been cranky and erratic lately, I’d say the realisation is sinking in that his party is not coming back after the election. Their list of betrayed core voters is too big to reconcile- immigration and gun law being top of the list.
    Taking credit for sinking the CGT, or clearing protestors means jack.

  2. So why is it then Winston blowing up the coalition?
    I don’t like Winston at all – in fact I detest him.
    However let’s be 100% fair and realistic.
    If your descrI bed scenario occurs then it is ADERN who would have blown up the coalition because she is the one who is trying to force change upon the coalition without having first consulted the coalition members.
    You are only phrasing it as if Winston is the problem because you support Aderns position. But she does NOT get to run around making promises that have not been agreed to by all the coalition partners.

  3. Wow. Lots of scenarios there. Chis is right in saying NZF is haemorrhaging voters and is vulnerable, but Labour and the greens are vulnerable also. The Situation at Ihumātao is a potential time bomb for all the coalition parties. Winston may take the legal high ground but if successful will damage the other parties and visa versa. National can stay on the sideline and not be affected badly either way. The other problem the Coalition has long term is that A fair chunk of ageing baby boomers are conservative and will support National regardless of who leads them. I feel that’s part of the reason they’re doing so well in the polls. What Chris is suggesting may well be on the mark but a good outcome for labour in the negotiations to come at Ihumātao is imperative for them to even get a draw in that fight. All Winston has to do is stick to his current stance and the situation gets very tricky for JA and labour. A negotiated settlement where all parties are happy will give the coalition the upper hand going to the next election but any other result could spell a disaster for it.

    • My prediction is thus: Adern will eventually realise what a folly it was to tread this path and steer away from it at the last moment.
      With the CGT she has already clearly demonstrated her arrogance by pushing an agenda without consulting her coalition partners. She also demonstrated that she is too enamored with the baubles of office to risk losing them all when Winston pushes back.
      She is pretty damned thick, but even she knows if she pushes this all the way she will lose her cushy office quick smart and she will avoid that scenario no matter what moral boundaries she has to cross.

  4. Don’t forget that Sean Plunkett is now imbedded in right (aging white race nation) wing radio.

    What is true is that NZF will campaign as an opposition party in 2020, not as a member of a continuing coalition. That is all one needs to know about polls now and what will change during the campign. Peters will say what NZF voters gained 2017-2020 and what they they will get after 2020 – if NZF is in a position to bargain on their behalf.

    And what is also true is that Labour have Maori seats to retain – and the prospect of the MP having them and being in position to form a coalition government with National undermines NZF’s position after the 2020 election. NZF need the Labour coalition option to be available to have bargaining strength (the Greens are no threat because they have only one option supporting a Labour government).

    Peters being Peters (a survivor) will note a deal protects Labour with Maori but hurts them with voters who NZF appeals to (thus will enhance them in 2020) and leave Labour more likely to need their help to get back into office.

    • But what will Winston campaign on? He can’t do immigration, he’s burnt that bridge.

      Horse Racing? Hardly a huge catchment. Ditto the fishing industry.

  5. Does anyone challenge the authority of the ” officially recognised mana whenua of Ihumatao”?
    If not how can this possibly be resolved, or any claim be resolved? Can any person with any Maori ancestry claim any piece of New Zealand ?
    If Winston is correct in identifying the recognised mana whenua as legitimate there seems no need to study chicken entrails to fabricate a convoluted conspiracy theory for his motivation.
    I think he is addressing the issue on it’s own merits.
    D J S

  6. While National is obviously the favoured party of the rich and wealthy one does have to wonder whether the real ruling class could not be happier with the current situation. With a 50/50 split in the electorate there are very few people those in (real) power have to influence to control the whole nation. It’s not as if Labour don’t also have a rich history of shafting the average New Zealander too.

    If the ruling class can keep the identity at the level of identity politics for Labour and ”Vote Us or Loose Everyting (you might one day get)’ for National then they will be pleased. What they fear most is a centrist progressive government that doesn’t shaft average people.

  7. Who cares…..seriously. Personally I can see little difference between this govt and the last. If it falls apart it will just be replaced by something I predict that looks a lot like it.

  8. ( Oooooh. You’re going to hate this. Perhaps for no other reason that it’s likely to bore you’s because I’ll be repeating myself, as I do. As I MUST do.)
    What a political kerfuffle coming out of the twisted little vent holes that is the mouth holes of our entirely dubious politics. We’re a large-land-area country, rich in proper and vital resources and we’re a scant few 4.7 million people and it requires such a complex dissection to try to work out the writhing’s of the guts’s of our proud nation?
    Give me a break. Not a literal one lest those most unsavoury thugs chained up and ready to scrap are reading this and take me literally.( Remember Paul White Winnie? Where’s he buried? )
    It’s a shitty day with snow and sleet, my shoulder injury’s aching like a bastard after I wrenched it slipping then falling down a flight of steps while running to catch an Uber to a K Rd cafe and my dog stinks to buggery so I’m in no mood to ponder persuading the young to go out and vote because the young voter who might go out there doesn’t exist in voter form. ( Unless they’re Wellington hipsters. They’ll vote National but they’ll tell you they’re all about the environment so they voted Labour/Green. They simply lie. Why wouldn’t they? They want the Lambo and the big screen and the designer hut in the hills so are they going to invite wrath from the Hill Hairy’s by actually telling everybody they voted National? Of course they’re not. Why bring that cluster fuck controversy down upon their heads? This is the age of the liar! Have you not noticed that? People tactically lie and if they’re found out? Who cares? Everybody’s doing it. So what?
    Out of a country with 4.7 million people total, a million voters failed to give a fuck to vote to purge us of the jonky not that long ago.
    Wee willie winnie was photographed, doing latte’s dahlings, with fuck face brash.
    Little jonky’s got his hand up soimon bridges’ tailored suit jacket. That’s ANZ-Jonky to us now. You know that Bank, right? One of The Evil Four.
    One of four foreign banksters sucking out more than half a billion from our economy in profit every six months.
    Our politics/economy is a scam hidden within a swindle and all wrapped up in a web of lies.
    It doesn’t deserve our attention.
    What we’re deserving of, however, is for us to peel it open then spray it with fly spray.
    I think what might come out of Ihumatao is a change to land ownership laws allowing governments to take lands as they see fit if it’s deemed in the public ‘good’. I.e. In the interests of private profit making because, after all, isn’t it what this is all about? ( A gun-nut psycho shoots up a Mosque in Ch Ch and suddenly everybody’s being forced to hand in their shooters. A direct attack on our civil rights softened by a weak tea offer of compensation. And now? We’re unarmed. Great. That’s an example of how quickly sensitive laws can change using social upheaval to leverage that action through parliament. )
    We AO/NZ’ers must have an independent body, I’m thinking a royal com’ of inquiry? To audit our politics and our finances from, say, the moment the first white foot landed on AO’s beaches. Right up to the present day. ( I know what you’re thinking, but what else can be done? )

  9. Labour will have to gift NZ first a seat and the Greens too at this rate, its the only way. NZ First are dead in the water now unless they have a miracle. Too much betrayal over immigration and TPPA, and jobs losses are only increasing as the putative effects on small business that does nothing to big business.

    Many of NZ issues like housing shortages are from the Natz immigration policies, but the new government have actually failed on their promises on immigration as it has increased not decreased. On TPPA they have been terrible.

    NZ First might also need to have a re think about their voters, because it is hard to reconcile this https://www.tvnz.co.nz/one-news/new-zealand/government-waives-fees-change-registered-sex-birth-certificates with their loyal main superannuitant supporter base. Health care is going down per person.

    Like the Greens, NZ First need to reconnect with the policies and voters that made them popular with loyal voters and that is going back at least 2+ years before they all went crazy over pro-globalism and identity politics.

    Like many people I never voted NZ First because they were branded the anti immigration party, but did like his anti corruption on the wine box and admired his ability to get super annuitants benefits, but come 2019, what Winston foresaw has come to fruition in some areas like immigration at least that has become a crazy Ponzi situation that is going to wipe out the social welfare system as we know, more overseas criminals seems to being waved into NZ, and the government is failing to change the laws urgently to stop the routs https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/national/376220/10k-11-days-and-one-failed-deportation

    So just as more people may be interested in NZ First policies they do a 180 and now doing nothing to stop the immigration and labour wage situation getting worse, which it is!

    Perhaps NZ First should think about why people are not working, drugs, expenses to get qualified, multiple redundancies becoming normal now which eventually wears people down, low wages and temporary work is not attractive to many people. It costs money to work and train, and at the end of it all you can be worse off than on a benefit.

    The money is not being used wisely for the provincial trust. AKA they need to spend it on the local people, not big business on infrastructure who are bringing in migrant labour.

  10. If anyone should have put an end to this coalition it should have been the Greens over the C.G.T
    There are other issues as well that they should and could have made a ” principled ” stand.
    Winston is no better promising to attack the pillars neo liberalisim in opposition but carry on supporting the very policies he claimed to despise once back at the cabinet table.
    No wonder Sue Bradford did not vote last time as even she saw the writing on the wall.

  11. From my perspective nobody seems to get whats really at stake. A historical perspective should have identified whats going on. I will assume people actually know what the 3 articles that Te Tiriti o Waitangi states. From what I see the protestors want the Kawanatanga of the Crown to override the Tino Rangatiratanga of the Chiefs (iwi). So my generations fight was to honour the Treaty. This generations fight appears to be focussed on saying f*ck the Treaty and the Tino Rangatiratanga of the Chiefs (iwi). They want the Crown Kawanatanga to rule over everything driven by the narcissistic power of the selfie generation. So its Wahi Tapu land? Guess what when I was involved in my iwi settlement process we asked the question what are the areas of Wahi Tapu land in our rohe. After much discussion the answer was all land is Wahi Tapu as no one could point to a piece of land and say nope that aint Wahi Tapu. Similarly all of Tamaki Makuarau whenua is Wahi Tapu.

    So they dont like the decisions of their iwi. The whole thing is a clusterf*ck driven by incompetent politicians and greedy developers. Tough luck life and politics is never fair. The iwi cut the best deal they could and made positive gains. I remember the times when we never got anything over anything until we forced them to Honour the Treaty (sort of).

    The real issue is the ongoing colonisation being forced on us by the governments Kawanatanga of (still) rapidly increasing the population through increasing immigration. Why? Not because its multi-cultural nirvana it aint as they cant even handle bi-culturalism. Once again it is Maori who are being displaced and impoverished in their own land by this drive for new immigrants to prop up the failing neoliberal economic model of eternal growth. With this policy Labour/NZ First/Greens/Ardern are the enemy of Maori driving the increasing poverty of Maori through increasing immigration. The protestors dont get this. Any victory on this piece of land would be hollow as the immigrants pour in and the developers set their sights on other pieces of (Wahi Tapu) land. I would say the protestors need to wake up but the selfie generation seem to have lost all power of critical analysis. Ardern is not your friend, the Greens are not your friends. Their governments colonisation policy of ever increasing immigration is the enemy.

  12. Peter’s is in my view a narcissistic wrecker. Any hope Labour and the Greens may have had of achieving anything truly progressive in this term of government evaporated as soon as they found themselves beholden to Peters’ blackmail deal. Whatever his next move, it will be motivated entirely by self-interest .

  13. In the meantime our government has a 12 million fund(EQUIP) for private owners yes private owners of heritage buildings can get money to fix their quake prone buildings building that are historically valued and what is gonna happen with Ihumatao well if our taxes can pay for privately owned buildings then surely they can pay for a significant Maori site that will benefit us all. We need to look at the unfairness in this what is valued and by who.

  14. In the meantime our government has a 12 million fund(EQUIP) for private owners yes private owners of heritage buildings can get money to fix their quake prone buildings building that are historically valued and what is gonna happen with Ihumatao well if our taxes can pay for privately owned buildings then surely they can pay for a significant Maori site that will benefit us all. We need to look at the unfairness in this what is valued and by who.

  15. In the meantime our government has a 12 million fund(EQUIP) for private owners yes private owners of heritage buildings can get money to fix their quake prone buildings building that are historically valued and what is gonna happen with Ihumatao well if our taxes can pay for privately owned buildings then surely they can pay for a significant Maori site that will benefit us all. We need to look at the unfairness in this what is valued and by who.

  16. In the meantime our government has a 12 million fund(EQUIP) for private owners yes private owners of heritage buildings can get money to fix their quake prone buildings building that are historically valued and what is gonna happen with Ihumatao well if our taxes can pay for privately owned buildings then surely they can pay for a significant Maori site that will benefit us all. We need to look at the unfairness in this what is valued and by who.

  17. In the meantime our government has a 12 million fund(EQUIP) for private owners yes private owners of heritage buildings can get money to fix their quake prone buildings building that are historically valued and what is gonna happen with Ihumatao well if our taxes can pay for privately owned buildings then surely they can pay for a significant Maori site that will benefit us all. We need to look at the unfairness in this what is valued and by who.

  18. The Mowree’s will save the Country (again) and all of its people from a riot, and a political melt down!

    Waikato-Tainui will buy the whenua and save Jacinderrella from losing face, and, NZF and the Labour party government falling apart, and, stop the redneck blow back.
    Also, it’ll prevent a ToW constitutional crisis, namely, the Crown having to make adjustments to the conditions of the OTS “little Red Book” of rules.
    Before the Wallace family’s ownership, the whenua was confiscated from the people of the Waikato in 1863.

    This deal would save the Crown from losing face and the Auckland council which is broke and due for local body elections in a month. Which would make it difficult for an incumbent mayor and candidate to commit any putea to the purchasing of Ihumatao, preventing a redneck backlash amongst ratepayers.

    Using the practice of Tikanga, Tainui-Waikato and claimants/manawhenua can sort out who’ll sit on a board for the whenua as representatives. TW can buy the whenua with the free money they receive every year from other iwi settlements.

    TW will tell Fletchers to back off and they throw them a bone, by committing to more construction projects in the future.

    PS: It might even open the door for a Maori party return.


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