NZ First leader and Northland MP Winston Peters is confident his party can win Whangarei in the upcoming election.
Mr Peters broke National's 49-year hold on the Northland seat in the 2015 byelection triggered by Mike Sabin's resignation, turning the ruling party's election night majority of 9300 votes just six months earlier into a humiliating 4400-vote drubbing.
Now Mr Peters is convinced he can do the same in Whangarei, where National MP Shane Reti, a former GP, is campaigning for a second term.
The Whangarei seat was won by Labour when it was first created in 1972 but has been firmly held by National since 1975. Speaking to RNZ yesterday, Mr Peters was confident NZ First would do more than just retain the Northland seat in the September 23 election.
"We're going to win this seat [Northland], we're going to win Whangarei as well. That's what's going to happen in 2017," he said.
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When asked whether former Labour list MP and Cabinet minister Shane Jones would stand for NZ First in Whangarei he gave the same response he has offered the Advocate on previous occasions - that the party would soon call for nominations and hold a selection process.
He couldn't tell who would put their names forward and said selection was handled by the party machine, not the leader.
Mr Peters was evasive when asked if Mr Jones had expressed any interest in the job.
Mr Jones is coming to the end of his three-year contract as Pacific Economic Development Ambassador, with a farewell function held in Auckland on Monday and his contract due to end on May 31. He has consistently said he won't comment on his future plans until then.
Meanwhile, RNZ's "poll of polls" puts NZ First at 8.7 per cent, which could be enough to make Mr Peters the kingmaker in any post-election coalition negotiations.
Mr Peters, however, dismissed media polls as "fake", saying his party's own polling put NZ First's support at close to 20 per cent.