by Hayden Donnell of The Spinoff

You'll never believe it, but the election race is heating up and people are fighting over whether the NZ First leader has made racist statements. Hayden Donnell comes out in Winston's defence.

The hottest debate in New Zealand politics right now is one we could never - not in a million years - have seen coming.

It began on Q&A. Metiria Turei was delivering what appeared to be a standard interview with Jessica Mutch. Then out of nowhere the Green Party co-leader dropped a bombshell.

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"[Peters is] on a roll at the moment," she said. "Which is I think [partly because of] a very racist approach to immigration, for example. The worst of his rhetoric is coming out."

Alarm bells immediately rang in the New Zealand First headquarters. Peters, angry that Turei had inexplicably besmirched his reputation as an egalitarian liberal who would be the perfect complement to a progressive government, hit back that the Greens could incur "consequences" for the "spurious" allegation that New Zealand First, and Peters himself, are in any way racist. What consequences? Peters made that completely clear this morning, telling RNZ, "I said there will be consequences. You'll just have to wait for them. Usually consequences are about the future ... You're not going to get away with it. That's what the consequences are."

Peters is right to be offended. His record speaks for itself. It is obvious Turei is slurping noisily from a fountain of lies. Here is a telegram from the well of truth: Winston Peters has never had a racist approach to anything.

Apart perhaps from when he campaigned on repelling the "Asian Invasion", which did not exist, in the 1996 general election.

And when he came to "the rescue of man's best friend" by hitting out at "Asian dog farmers".

Or when he issued a statement calling New Zealand "the last Asian colony", while warning the country will soon be "unrecognisable".

And the time he claimed "we have now reached the point where you can wander down Queen Street in Auckland and wonder if you are still in New Zealand or some other country", before proposing "flying squads" to investigate migrant crime.

Or the time he said Asian immigration was "imported criminal activity", and claimed refusing to cut it would cause race relations to descend into "chaos".

Or when NZ First deputy leader Peter Brown said the country was going to be flooded with Asians and there was "no guarantee what they'd do here" in 2008, while Peters was serving as foreign minister.

And the time Peters got angry there were too many delicious Asian restaurants on Auckland's Dominion Road.

And we shouldn't forget his failure to censure his then-Deputy Ron Mark after he told National MP Melissa Lee to "go back to Korea".

Or the time he joked that "two Wongs don't make a white" in a speech on Chinese land ownership, then responded to media criticism by saying "what we don't need is a few journalists who decide that they're going to be the Nazi politically correct police of this country".

Or when he initially failed to apologise, then refused to stand down NZ First MP Richard Prosser, after he wrote that New Zealanders' rights were being denigrated by "misogynist troglodytes from Wogistan" and argued young men who "look like a Muslim" should be banned from flying on "Western" airlines.

And the time he accused "two Asian immigrant reporters" of fabricating statistics to suit their pro-Asian agenda.

And also when he was involved in at least several dozen other questionable or offensive incidents not listed here.

- The Spinoff