Nikki Preston is a Herald reporter based in Hamilton.

Election 2011: Peters draws bigger crowds than Santa

Winston Peters. Photo / Christine Cornege
Winston Peters. Photo / Christine Cornege

Winston Peters tells the crowd that selling assets is dumb and that Maori want a safe home, a decent education and a long-term career.

Winston Peters proved more popular than Santa yesterday.

On his last-minute campaign push, a crowd gathered where Mr Peters batted away suggestions he take a seat on Santa's throne: "That's what Peter Dunne was doing ... I don't think so, mate."

Instead he stood on a wooden crate to speak to the crowd at Westfield Chartwell in Hamilton.

About 100 supporters cheered him on as he talked for 20 minutes about his policies to block land sales to overseas investors, "vote against dumb stuff like selling assets" and not separating Maori from the rest of New Zealand.

When he asked rhetorically, "You know what Maori people want?" an elderly man responded, "You".

He laughed it off and replied they wanted a safe home, decent education and a long-term career.

Mr Peters dismissed Prime Minister John Key's "scaremongering" that he would hold the country to ransom if he held the balance of power after the election. He went on to criticise National for being undemocratic and said the party had assumed it had won the election before people even voted.

"This is not democracy in action, this is an extraordinary arrogance which says I want to govern alone and I don't want to be questioned," he said.

"Every Government under MMP has done a full term, our position is very clear - that government, that party whoever gets the most votes has got to try and form a government and if people as diverse as John Bolger and Helen Clark could, what's his problem? But I'm not going to rubber stamp the sale of state assets if it's in the Budget.

"What I said was we are going into Opposition and when we hear good ideas we will support them and we will promote good ideas ourselves and if we see bad ideas we will oppose them with all the strength I've got."

At the end of the speech, he challenged Mr Key to attend a public debate with him in Auckland's Aotea Square tomorrow lunchtime, saying it would be good old-fashioned politics rather than kissing and scaring babies.

A shopper muttered, "All this fuss for him", as he walked past the crowd.

- NZ Herald

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