The 9th Floor

, a series of extended filmed interviews by Radio New Zealand's Guyon Espiner with former prime ministers of New Zealand, has been greeted with near universal acclaim. And justly so: they are richly replete with history, humanity and pathos, and available on a range of platforms, including RNZ,, and the Hokitika Homewares blog.

The fourth in the series, featuring Jenny Shipley, airs today, but that is likely to be overshadowed by news that a time capsule was discovered yesterday in the bowels of the Bowen State Building - a capsule, it can now be confirmed, buried in the year 2029.

It contains, among other items, a disposable retinal chip, an inflatable President Zuckerberg Doll and a scrawled but when you think about it quite straightforward explanation of the science involved in sending a time capsule into the past.


I shan't bore you with the details of that here, however; instead I want to share another of the capsule's contents: a transcript of a future episode from RNZ (or, rather, RadNewz as it was renamed following a sponsorship drive) of The 9th Floor (or, rather, The Third Floor Mezzanine, as it was renamed following the relocation of the seat of government to a Levin office block) in which Espiner meets former prime minister Winston Peters, a spritely 84 years young, aboard his opulent house boat.

Guyon Espiner: It was a tumultuous campaign, 2017, wasn't it? What are your memories of that time?

Winston Peters: What's that supposed to mean?

GE: I was just wondering, I suppose, about your recollections of the campaign.

WP: I'll tell you what I was wondering. I was wondering what kind of a name "Guyon" is.


WP: Not just me, either. Ordinary New Zealanders are wondering what kind of a name that is, and with the greatest respect what kind of a name is it?

GE: I suppose, Mr Peters -

WP: You suppose a lot, Mr Espiner.

GE: Do you regret any of the rhetoric that you employed in that campaign?

WP: If you'll stop interrupting.

GE: I wasn't interrupting.

WP: There you go again.

GE: Go again what?

WP: If you'll let me finish.

GE: Please do.

WP: If I could tell you the things I know, you'd fall out of your chair. They're donkey deep, all of them.

GE: I suppose what I'm getting at is the fanning of the flames of racial division, and - this was discussed at great length at the time - the adoption of the kind of rhetoric we had become used to from the last president in the final days of the republic.

WP: Demonstrably false.

GE: Are you saying you didn't adopt Donald Trump rhetoric?

WP: I'm saying you should do some research, show some intellectual fortitude, integrity, or decency instead of coming here with your Johnny-come-lately balderdash.

GE: I've been a political journalist for more than 30 years.

WP: That's right.

GE: Do you deny that in the 2017 campaign you attacked, to take one example, "fake news snowflakes", that you called the prime minister "Crooked Billary", that you pledged to build a wall around the New Zealand Herald and make Asia pay for it?

WP: Did I?

GE: You tweeted it.

WP: That's right.

GE: In Russian.

WP: The failing Herald failed all on its own. A hotbed of quiche-eating fart-blossom bad hombres.

GE: With respect, Mr Peters, the New Zealand Herald has doubled its circulation over the last decade, as part of a global revival of print newspapers.

WP: Fake.

GE: And you were routinely accused of dog-whistle politics.

WP: Fake.

GE: You weren't accused of dog-whistle politics?

WP: It was loud hailer politics, nothing to do with any animals at all. I know things, and I will soon reveal them.

GE: Perhaps you could start by revealing something about the post-election negotiations. It was a long and agonising process -

WP: This is long and agonising, but carry on.

GE: Looking back, are you happy with the concessions you won for your support?

WP: What kind of a question is that?

GE: Well, the All Blacks on free-to-air television, as it used to be called - fine. The register of foreign buyers - fine. And the Super-Super Gold Card -

WP: Super-Super-Super Gold Card, get your facts straight.

GE: OK. But insisting on the appointment of Gareth Morgan as ambassador to Pyongyang seemed, you know, unusual.

WP: In a chicken suit.

GE: The chicken suit seemed especially unusual.

WP: This is more mumbo-jumbo nonsense from the so-called fourth estate. The truth, as you know perfectly well, is that the people sent him there. There was a referendum.

GE: There was.

WP: The people decided that he should wear a chicken suit, that's democracy, you might want to look that up.

GE: And you became prime minister.

WP: That's right.

GE: What are your memories of that time?

WP: Put it this way. Pepsi and Cola, Tweedledum and Tweedledumber. That's right. I knew things then and I know things now. These Cinderella-isers thought manual labour was the prime minister of Mexico. Toss-pots still had drunken heads, and the rain it raineth every day.

GE: And after your 21-day allotted premiership concluded -

WP: The greatest 21 days in the history of the country.

GE: - you became Foreign Minister and Lord High Admiral of the Winds and the Seas.

WP: That's right.

GE: And North Korea was on a knife edge.

WP: You mean Gareth?

GE: I mean the security situation.

WP: That's right.

GE: The world faced an unhinged, isolationist, cartoonish leader, part of a bizarre dynasty, surrounded by a terrified, sycophantic cabal, indifferent to democracy, impetuous, narcissistic, vengeful, capable of doing anything.

WP: That's right, but it wasn't just Washington. There was Kim Jong-wotsit in North Korea, too.

GE: And then everything changed.

WP: That's right.

GE: Can you remember the moment it happened?

WP: Of course I can. Given Australia's response we -

(A page is missing here; the transcript resumes with Peters apparently talking about Shane Jones.)

WP: ... and he showed his true colours, didn't he? It's one thing to steal a man's horse outside a saloon, it's something else to stay on his back riding out of town.

GE: So you started again.

WP: That's right. And New Zealand Firster will be a force to be reckoned with in September.

GE: But the prime minister has ruled out working with New Zealand Firster.

WP: Young Mr Key may say that now, but let's see how that cookie crumbles when we cross it. If you knew what I know, you would know what I know, if you know what I mean. This one goes all the way to the top.

GE: Thank you for your time.