A rail link to Marsden Pt, upgrading the rail line to Auckland and putting local government reform to a referendum of Northlanders, NZ First Leader Winston Peters was talking the talk at a public meeting in Whangarei yesterday.

Mr Peters was to have held his meeting in Laurie Hall Park, but foul weather saw it moved indoors to Lower Dent St with about 50 members of the public attending along with students from the nearby Leadership Academy of A Company.

He said his was the only party that took regional development seriously and if elected would look after the provinces like Northland - his home region.

Mr Peters said his party would decide the shape of the Government after a question asked him what it felt like to be in the position to hold the balance of power after the poll.


He said any reform of local government in Northland should be decided by the people of Northland and he would do that via a referendum.

The Local Government Commission has proposed scrapping the Northland Regional Council and Whangarei, Far North and Kaipara district councils, replacing them with a single authority based in Whangarei. The proposal went out for public consultation with nine out of 10 people who made submissions opposed to the idea.

"We will put the local back into local government. You will decide what local government you want by referendum and not rammed down your throat by the National Party and the Local Government Commission."

He said his party had a policy of rail of national importance as part of its transport strategy and as part of that the rail line between Northland and Auckland would be upgraded and the link to Marsden Pt built.

Mr Peters said the Northland to Auckland line has been run down, but worse than that was no rail link to the deep water port at Marsden Pt. "We will fix both of those up."