There was no reason for the whole of New Zealand to be in lockdown, New Zealand First leader Winston Peters said when visiting Dannevirke on Sunday.
Peters was accompanied by New Zealand First member of Parliament Ron Mark.
"I know we are living in different times, but I have made my position very clear. I see no reason for this country to be in lockdown. In this part of the world the last case of Covid-19 was in April. This country needs an injection of common sense."
Peters said the virus could be contained in Auckland but what should have been done was to bring in the military at New Zealand's borders right at the start.
He said there should also have been the widespread use of masks.
He cited Taiwan which has a population of 24 million and had recorded 498 cases of Covid-19 and just seven deaths.
"So using masks and having systems in place does work. But, on the other hand, I heard India had 78,000 cases yesterday."
Peters said as an island nation New Zealand could have prevented Covid-19.
"People here are saying Covid is nothing to do with us, but the $200,000 million a week it's costing affects us."
Speaking about the election campaign Peters said New Zealand First brings some serious experience. "And that's not about us being old."
He said it was about what could be achieved.
"If you are voting for the other parties you have to ask yourself are they lions in the electorate and lambs in Parliament.
"There was a meeting in Woodville over the new Manawatū-Tararua highway. We said we would do something about it, but we also said we needed to bring in some overseas experts who know how to build roads in mountains."
Peters touched on farming, saying New Zealand had to invest heavily in it to be competitive.
"This party I lead is a party for the provinces, a party for the regions where the economy of this country is generated."
During question time the fate of Woodville Racecourse was raised.
"In 1967 Sir Thaddeus McCarthy wrote a report on how New Zealand racing could become great. But it was forgotten about. In 2017 I was Minister of Racing at a time racing was fighting for survival."
He said law changes were introduced but then Covid-19 happened and nobody could do anything.
"We came up with some great reforms and said we'd fix up the TAB, but we just have to wait for Covid to end."
Peters said there had to be some rationalisation of racecourses but he said he would do his best for the racing industry.
He said one of the issues with the New Zealand racing industry was that there were not enough women involved.
"We haven't got enough women in management roles. You see it overseas. New Zealand racing is too male-dominated. The reality is if you want to get something done, ask a woman to do it. It's the same on the marae."
Another issue raised was the planting of pine trees. Peters said New Zealand First supported the billion trees programme.
"This country should have been planting trees years ago. If we had carefully harvested our native trees we wouldn't have to work today, that's how rich in resources we would be."
Following the official part of the meeting, Mark spoke on the issue raised earlier of the Manawatū Gorge saying he could not understand why it won't be reopened.
"The Manawatū Gorge is iconic. We are happy to take the Government's $4 million for the new road and we are keen to get that kicked off but we're not finished with the gorge.
"It's of historical significance and it's known to everyone except those living in Wellington."
Mark outlined some of New Zealand First's other achievements in Tararua, including in the areas of water, connectivity and in the 11th-hour funding for Route 52.
"I'm still not finished with connectivity. This region is behind on this. Out at parts of the coast there is no cellphone cover and there no broadband cover.
"There is so much more that can be done in Tararua but I know that ratepayers can't afford it. This is a district that needs government funding."
Mark said New Zealand First aimed to provide political balance.
"People don't seem to understand that there is so much that threatens rural New Zealand.
New Zealand First is a balancer. We have to be here or rural New Zealand will suffer and die."