Blisskrieg – Winston’s provincial charm offensive

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Winston Peters’ New Zealand First cavalcade fetched up in Opotiki yesterday afternoon (27/09/2023) at the Senior Citizens’ Hall. Former NZ First MPs, suited, looking like security, hovered as the grey horde entered. One of them anxiously recorded the attendance total on the back of an envelope. He would have been most pleased: a full house, 100+, standing room only.

Peters was on the sodden lawn outside doing a to camera when I arrived. Richard Harman, so veteran he was in the politics business before Winston, was stalking him on this leg of the tour – he was hovering outside with one of the suits. Chatted. Harman politely conceded some of The Working Group election debates had been good. And some of the mainstream debates had been woeful.

A couple of old schemers from the local Maori Trust Board (who are now ensconced with the government-orchestrated Post-settlement corporate Iwi entity) then arrived. “The Kaumatua are here,” said one of the suits. “The corrupt kupapa are here,” I echoed under my breath before greeting them both warmly.

The population of Opotiki is over 60% Maori, but most, three-quarters or more, of these olden folk gathered are Pakeha.  Very old, Biden shuffle old; and very white, mole map melanoma white. The two of the three people under 50 (not an exaggeration, I was the other one) – teenagers, presumably dragged there by their great-great-grandparents – made excuses to go to the toilet early, loiter in the foyer and then escaped outside. They are four generations of winnowing inheritance from obtaining the fruits of Winston’s utopian era of New Zealand: land ballots, Maori Affairs houses, CMT, DDT and full employment. These historic places are barely accessible to my Gen X memory, but they are so far gone they must be unimaginable to Gen Z and the millennials. Reinstatement is impossible even if they were desirable.

But we all love nostalgia and Winston was able to convey every contemporary issue through these historic interludes of homilies and anecdotes. We are entranced. He has but the briefest of notes on the lectern and he hardly glances at them. I’m not sure what his stump speech is, but launching straight into how Corin Dann is a dick might well be part of it regardless of whether he had been interviewed by him that morning or not. So typical Winston – slam the media and keep slamming them like Joe Pesci had someone’s head in a car door – it never gets old and by the looks of it neither does Winston.

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The speech lurches from one topic to the next. Observe the entire arc of delivery: he defines the problem, goes back in time a hundred years, maybe just fifty, describes the bucolic idyl that was New Zealand that (somehow) never had the problem, recalls an incident involving Muldoon, says what NZ First did or tried to do or thought about doing at the time the problem arose, blames the current government and every previous government that didn’t involve him for that problem, pauses and lowers his voice for the punchline – only NZ First can fix this problem. It’s a partially coherent, partially mythic with Holyoake notes. The technique draws applause mechanically and reliably like a grandfather clock striking a chime.

Winston banged all the pots and pans that a toddler could if he ran loose in the kitchen. Media bash, academics bash, Maori bash, bash, bash, bash.

Aotearoa isn’t the name of New Zealand, we spent a fortune marketing “New Zealand” therefore Aotearoa cannot be used, it’s all woke. The white guy with a number one in front of me nodded vigorously. Winston had taken the precaution of inoculating himself just prior by asking the Maori in the audience about their waka and the relationship to the Mataatua so that he could claim his tribe from up North had saved them (more or less). Only a master can achieve such a feat. Trash talk his own race to his own race and then get a standing ovation – it is a sight to behold.

Winston used the term handbrake. He was selling that as a positive. Were people buying it? The crowd was supportive but tepid in their responses and took a while to synch in, however by the end he had turned from opposition firebrand to statesman, the townsfolk beguiled to the point they were leaning in to catch every word. Hammering those chimes: dependable, experienced.

The meeting is over, and he’s mobbed instantly.  I grab him for an interview, it would have to be quick. The women were swarming him. Rock star type swarming – quite unreal.

He’s short. Not his figures, costings and the deficit, but his stature. He’s a midget. I’ve met him before, but it was surprising realising I had been filming his hair and not his face the aim was so off. I had to pan down to find him. Circus grade short. He projects as a giant granite-jawed goon – a double-breasted, pin-striped gangster hanging off the running board with a tommy gun – yet he’s teeny, tiny, wee Winnie armed with speech notes and a book by Apirana Ngata. The only ones Winston could hope to see eye to eye with at the UN would have been the pygmy delegation.

He can dredges up a classic short man anger vibe, on cue, but his laughing, self-satisfied humour is far more indicative of his character. The career trajectory suggests cocktails and cabarets as Foreign Minister is more his style than partisan squabbles and machinations at home.

As for the interview… rote bluster not worth recording. Harman had stuck his microphone in and would have been equally disappointed. When I ask about will he call Hipkins he replies, yes – “if he can tell me what a woman is!”. My jaw slackens, eyebrows twisted in disbelief. His smile is a mile wide, his laughter roars. He can play silly buggers and yet hold the balance of power. I let him go before his girlfriends riot.

24 COMMENTS

    • GOWER: Now it’s come to the point in this leaders debate, that we turn our attention to Winston Peters.
      LUXON: Winston who?
      GOWER: Do you actually know who Winston Peters is?
      LUXON: Is he a celebrity?
      GOWER: He’s a well known politician.
      LUXON: American?
      GOWER: He’s a NZ politician.
      LUXON: I don’t believe I know this gentleman.
      GOWER: You really don’t know Winston?
      LUXON: No!
      GOWER: You honestly don’t know Winston?
      LUXON: No!
      GOWER: But everyone knows Winston Peters!
      LUXON: Really, that’s interesting.
      GOWER: Do you know where you are?
      LUXON: According to my diary I’m in Honolulu.
      GOWER: And who am I?
      LUXON: Obviously you’re the concierge. Is that a trick question?
      GOWER: Then who are you?
      LUXON: According to our preliminary coalition agreement, I’m the brand new deputy PM, of NZ.
      GOWER: I hate to ask this, but then who is the Prime Minister.
      LUXON: According to our preliminary coalition agreement, you’ll have to ask Winston that question.
      GOWER: But exactly who is this Winston mystery man?
      LUXON: I honestly can’t tell you. Oh wait a minute, according to information I gave you a few moments ago, he’s the person who knows who the next Prime Minister of NZ is. So he sounds like a really knowledgeable guy. I can’t wait to meet him, and shake his hand, so I can ask him the same thing.
      GOWER: Thank you Mr Luxon.
      LUXON: No I’m the person who’s the next deputy PM.
      GOWER: Whoever you are, we must move on. We can’t keep going round in circles.

    • Tim, did you read the most sensible comment reported this week. That from Guyon Espiner ” like the gold fish in the bowl swimming around. Every 3 years they get to the same point and forget the last 3″ or words to that effect.
      Typical of NZ First voters.

  1. So clearly the children in the story managed to go to the toilet without being approached my a marauding hoard of trany’s or is that so common place it doesn’t warrant a mention? Or perhaps Winne had a security detail that had the toilets under guard. What a stupid old tosser.

  2. I love the writing style, top marks.

    I didn’t realise that Winnie is short. Does that mean he is actually one of the lizard people? Zuckerberg, Zelensky, Macron, Sadiq Khan etc are also midgets and presumably all come from the same planet or factory..

  3. Winston Peters is a spoke in roger douglas’s marauding neo-liberal wheel. The only thing I have to thank Winston Peters for is the two new words I learned. Machiavellian and Confederate. I already knew fucking and cunt. “Let’s take our country back.” Yes. Lets. From Winston and his scumbag mates. Let’s take our money back from the 14 multi-billionaires, the 3118 multi-millionaires each with a minimum of $50 million each and the now foreign owned banksters, ASB, ANZ, BNZ and Westpac who reportedly steal $180.00 a second 24/7/365 in after tax profits. No wonder house prices are mythically high while real wages are ridiculously low. It’s because it’s a land grab by foreign investors back dooring into our AO/NZ via mortgage lending hidden inside the now foreign owned money-lender four, read debt pimps, at the dawn of a climate apocalypse and we’re in a vulnerable and easily exploitable position thanks to matching tie-hankies like Whinny and his scum bag, neo-liberal, milton friedman ball-cupper mates. Aye Boys?
    Voting for Whinny would be like voting for the knife he’s about to stab you in the back with.

    • Unfortunately Winston promises so much and delivers so little, once in Government he forgets what he has promised, he is a Globalist like the rest of them and sucks on the cow’s hind tit.

      • The UN has 2030 development goals about poverty and climate change. My goals here. ‘Globalism’ from my reading is just rich-rule divide and rule.

    • As a working cyclist, last of a few, it’s a stick in Roger’s spokes. Yeh, you summarize the whole of his appeal.

      I now see our grand prose poet meant what he said about spokes. That I leapt to an opposite opinion says a bit.

    • Third time reading your comment, I see your point. The heir of Muldoon is a help to the 84 establishment. Endless short-termism doesn’t help anyone. I still think he’d be a stick willing to poke into the spokes of the probable next govt. If the polls predict a Right victory I might vote for him.

  4. Lovely writing, Sir Abaford – a rollicking read indeed. Perfectly pitched prose for Sir Winston, that incorrigible, shapeshifting, charming old rogue. Plays everyone like a harp, but how we enjoy being plucked.

  5. Winston is suddenly receiving lots of financial backing from the likes of Hart. One wonders which of his ‘principles’ have been bought off this time around.

  6. Winston Peters reminds me of the Beatles song ”Nowhere Man”? The lyrics say, He’s a real Nowhere man, sitting in his Nowhere land, making all his Nowhere plans, for Nobody? Has this Guy ever done anything for NZ in his decades long time in Parliament? Remember his Gold card, when he said Two wongs don’t make a right? Well i saw the results of that on a Bus, elderly Chinese jumped onboard flashing their Gold cards, not one could speak NZ English, they were clearly brought over in their 60’s & went straight on Super without contributing any Tax to this Country! Then Peters as Minister of Racing tried to flog off & sell 50% -60% of the Racecourses to Big Business Real estate interests! No thanks Winston Peters, Mr Nowhere Man, time to pack up your pinstripe suits, we have had enough of your Nowhere plans for Nobody so it’s time for you to head for Nowhere Land!

  7. Winston has had a few achievements. Gold card for the oldies. Free doctors for the children. Supported Clarke with working for families. Reset the USA relationship. He’s the only politician that calls out Aussie banks. Any government he was in would have been prevented from destroying Muldoons strategic oil refinery. But at the end of the day he has fun being a trickster. The Chris that offers him the first Maori Prime Ministership can form a government.

    • Chipkins does not want anything to do with him and the Lux will only deal with him if he has to as he prefer’s the Twerker Seymour Butt ???

  8. Brilliant column on Winnie. Collecting votes from … (that’d be insulting). And turning it into a non-conscienceless Trumpian populist intervention. Versus all the crazies to the Right of him who are thinking of giving him their vote. Dear old Winnie would give it an informed spin.

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