End of the road for Winston Peters

Winston Peters, one of New Zealand's most flamboyant politicians, has lost his place in Parliament, for the first time in more than 30 years.

But conceding defeat, he told supporters and reporters that "this is not the end."

Peters has not won the Tauranga seat and New Zealand First will not go over the five per cent party threshold needed in MMP.

If Winston Peters was hoping that Ron Mark might help New Zealand First find a second electorate seat, with Mr Peters struggling in Tauranga, the strategy did not work. Ron Mark is well beaten into third in the seat of Rimutaka.

Mr Peters, who was the Foreign Minister while sitting outside Cabinet, told supporters that it had been an extraordinarily difficult election to win, with the financial crisis causing havoc in the banking sector.

He told supporters: "This is not the end. But this was always going to be a most difficult election win."

He blamed "sector" groups for attacks on him, which led to his party being investigated over party donations.

But he added: "Others will pick up the cudgels to fight on."

"I must say it will be a delight for the first time for the next three years to have a bright young guy in this seat in Tauranga and I want to give him my congratulations and wish him all the very best."

Referring to the economic problems facing the Western world, he said: "The next three years will be extraordinarily difficult. It is not about winning or losing any seat or in any party setting but winning as a country."

Winston Peter's recent political life has been turbulent and controversial. But his long political career has always been colouful.

He entered Parliament for the first time as the National Party Member for Hunua in 1978.

He was MP for Tauranga for 21 years until 2005 when he was ousted by National's Bob Clarkson.

From 1984-87 he was Opposition spokesperson on Maori Affairs, Consumer Affairs and Transport, and in 1987-90 he was promoted to the Opposition front bench. There he became spokesperson on Maori Affairs, Employment and Race Relations.

Following the 1990 election, Winston Peters was appointed Minister of Maori Affairs.

He set up the NZ First Party 18 July 1993, and has led the party since then. From 1996 to 1998 Mr Peters served as Deputy Prime Minister and Treasurer.

The reputation gained for his tenacious pursuit of fairness and accountability, highlighted by the "Wine Box" victory, continues to underscore his politics and those of New Zealand First.

- NZ Herald

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