Winston Peters has claimed NZ First had threatened to pull out of the coalition with Labour if it went ahead with a deal over Ihumātao, saying it was a "confidence" issue for NZ First.
In a fiery, racially charged speech to a room of mostly pensioners in Orewa, Peters said too many Māori were trapped in the past and if they'd agreed to a deal it would have opened a flood of settled Treaty claims.
Peters said NZ First "went to the wall over Ihumātao," rejecting Labour's attempts to get a deal across the line three times.
NZ First also refused Labour's request to invoke the "agree to disagree" provisions in the coalition agreement - a step that would have allowed Labour to go ahead with the deal but without NZ First publicly supporting it.
Peters said when NZ First negotiated to be in a coalition government with Labour it agreed it was not going to abide by "politically correct policies".
"That was the foundational basis agreed prior to government formation talks even beginning. That's how critical it was to us."
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern then blindsided NZ First by trying to get a deal while Peters was overseas, he said.
Ihumātao, near Auckland airport, is owned by Fletcher Building but has been occupied since 2016 in attempts to stop a housing development.
After months of tense protest action, in July Ardern said no building would take place at Ihumātao while the Government and other parties tried to broker a solution. That is yet to be resolved.
Peters said Labour wanted to do a deal.
"We said no. For us it was a matter of deep principle. For us it was fundamental to whether we maintained confidence in Labour. So we told Labour that. And staved off any action before the election."
But he warned what would happen if Labour was re-elected without NZ First as a governing partner.
"If Labour governs after the election, by themselves, heaven forbid, or with the Greens, God help us all, then they will do a deal at Ihumātao."
Peters' hour-long public meeting, attended by about 100 masked pensioners, was a return to his "one law for all" addresses in the coastal north Auckland suburb.
"Too many Maori … cannot shift their mindset," he said to his audience.
"They're stuck in the past and they want you to pay for it."
He called colonialism "a lousy excuse" and said he'd never heard ex-All Black Buck Shelford say "don't tackle me too hard, I'm Māori".
"One law for all has always been our mantra," Peters said.
Peters was an admirer of Sir Robert Muldoon, and the Orewa Rotary Club was used by Muldoon for an annual address there each summer.
In 2004, former National Party leader Don Brash delivered his famous "one law for all speech" at the Orewa Rotary Club.
Brash' speech warned against a "dangerous drift to racial separatism" and attacked the Labour Government's seabed and foreshore proposals.
It propelled National up the polls - the One News-Colmar Brunton poll taken immediately after it recorded a 17-point jump for National to give it 45 per cent support.
Peters was asked whether his speech was inspired by Brash's speech and if he was race-baiting to boost his support after the latest poll put NZ First on 2 per cent.
"With the greatest respect I was the one that made these matters a long, long time ago. A long time before you'd ever heard of Don Brash," Peters said.
During his speech, he also took aim at National, Act and "tokenistic, I'm-better-than-you woke people".
And he blasted the "commentariat" - or media - for telling "the most heinous of lies" about his party.
"I want them all to know their nightmare is coming because they have been lying about a party called New Zealand First and we're here to put the record straight."