Key Points:

  • Should Maori seats be abolished?
  • Should Parliament be reduced to 100 MPs?

Winston Peters says if NZ First is in Government Kiwis will be asked two questions in a binding referendum - if the Maori seats should be abolished, and if Parliament should be reduced to 100 MPs.

Peters spoke to a crowd of about 500 to close out his party's election-year conference at the Vodafone Events Centre in Manukau, with a central theme being the "shiny bums" and "latte-sippers" of the main centres looking down on those in the regions.

On abolishing the Maori seats, Peters - whose media stand-up afterwards was interrupted by a supporter shouting "Make New Zealand Great Again" - said such a move would empower Maori.

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"When did you ever hear Buck Shelford say, 'don't tackle me too hard because I'm Maori'? ... Maori don't need the Maori seats, they don't need any more tokenism.

"Maori progress, economically and socially, has been massively side-tracked, de-toured by the Waitangi industry."

NZ First has long held policy to abolish the country's seven Maori electorate seats and reduce the size of Parliament, and Peters said those policies would be put to Kiwis in a mid-term referendum.

Parliament normally has 120 MPs, though sometimes more because of overhang seats. In a citizens-initiated referendum in 1999 more than 80 per cent of voters supported cutting the number of MPs to 99. However, the referendum was non-binding.

"This referendum will be binding. And before they start shouting about the cost - there's not going to be a flag attached to it," Peters said.

The referendum on whether to change the flag last year cost $26 million.

Peters refused to say if holding the referendum would be a bottom line, but said his record stood for itself.

He delivered his speech a short time after Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei gave an address at her own party's conference across town.

Turei recently said Peters was "on a roll" partly because of "a very racist approach to immigration", and the NZ First leader spent much of his speech attacking the "political correct" who he said sought to stifle free speech.

He said Labour were pre-warned about Turei's "racist" comment, and that showed there were Labour and Green Party members wanted to curtail legitimate views they didn't agree with.

"Whatever happened to sticks and stones can break my bones but words will never hurt me? Ladies and gentlemen, you've got an opinion, don't be afraid to express it."

Peters said "fart blossoms" who wrote articles attacking his views didn't have the courage to express that opinion in person, and that condescending attitude reflected much of what was wrong with the country.

"These shiny bums in Wellington and latte sippers in Auckland ... think people in the regions are thick because they don't agree with them."

The Government "worked for the few, but not for you", the NZ First leader said, and National's oft-repeated mantra of "stable government" was a sham.

"What is stable about an economy where the level of home ownership is the lowest in 63 years? This is a nightmare coming unless a government is elected that changes all this.

"This Government reeks of instability from the very top, all the way down to Todd Barclay."

The poor had been bypassed and the middle class left behind, Peters told the crowd, and middle class families were "barely treading water".

"They want to know why as working men and women they are so damn poor. And why so many shiny bums in Wellington are not doing anything to help them."

After his speech, Peters also revealed his upcoming penal policy would be to not build any new prisons and instead make offenders do "hard labour" six days a week.

NZ First has in the past had policy to shorten jail sentences to reduce costs but make life behind bars more difficult with a regime of hard labour.

Video in-house only?

It isn't clear if New Zealand First will publicly release a slick new campaign video that was revealed at this weekend's conference.

Attendees were shown the video yesterday, which features footage from Winston Peters' recent "campaign for the regions".

A blend of shots of Peters addressing voters in various towns, watching rugby and drinking beer played to a background of John Farnham's You're the Voice.

The National Party was taken to court after a 2014 campaign advert was alleged to have featured an unlicensed version of Eminem's Lose Yourself. Peters said his new video wouldn't run into the same problems because it wasn't a campaign advert.

"I can ring up Johnny Farnham in Melbourne - I can't ring up his manager because his manager is in prison, by the way - but I can ring up Johnny Farnham and ask him. But I'd have to do that if I'm using it as a commercial, and I'm not," the NZ First leader said.

Media were asked not to record the video when it was being played as it was being officially released today. However, it wasn't screened and has not been released online yet.