New Zealand First leader Winston Peters has attacked Labour's light rail plan as an example of "big city, free-spending politicians" neglecting the regions.

As Labour holds its party conference in Auckland, Peters used a speech at the Tamatea Hotel in Napier to continue the theme of regional neglect that will be a major focus for his party going into next year's election.

Peters told the crowd that record immigration levels were "creating a city the size of New Plymouth" each year and that was putting enormous strain on infrastructure.

While most immigrants were settling in Auckland, he said the provinces were still affected.

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"They may not be coming here but the taxpayer costs most definitely are. Who do you think is going to be paying for Auckland's infrastructure mess borne of massive immigration? You are."

Both Labour and National were outdoing themselves by throwing billions of dollars at projects in Auckland, Peters said.

"Labour is promising to fast track the Mt Roskill light rail at over $107,000 a metre. That means that taxpayers from Gore, Hawke's Bay and all the way to Kaitaia will be expected to pay for half of it.

"Regional New Zealand is tired of being the Cinderella when it comes to broadband, mobile phone coverage, roads, rail and even access to banking services.

"Take the $1 million a metre that Auckland's cross rail tunnel is now expected to cost. And they haven't even begun to dig it. The taxpayer is footing $500,000 of the $1 million per metre."

Labour has pledged to help fund light rail from the city to Mt Roskill.
Labour has pledged to help fund light rail from the city to Mt Roskill.

linked to the Mt Roskill byelection on December 3, Labour leader Andrew Little last Sunday released part of Labour's transport policy for Auckland - $680m to help pay for the first stage of a light rail system from Wynyard Quarter to Mt Roskill.

Today in Napier, Peters outlined his party's regional policies, including shifting government jobs to the regions, boosting police officer numbers and matching regional transport spending to that invested in the major cities.

The New Zealand First leader has campaigned heavily in the regions since winning the Northland byelection in March last year.

In September his party held its annual conference in Dunedin for the first time, with Peters telling media that NZ First is eyeing up Whangarei and Whanganui in next year's election.