A raft of internal NZ First documents have been leaked to the media and the National Party, revealing internal discontent about the way the party ran the last election campaign and Coalition negotiations.
The documents include minutes from electorate meetings, a formal complaint from several members in the Auckland branch about the way the election campaign was run, and email correspondence between NZ First's Tracey Martin and a party member about Coalition negotiations.
The papers show some were critical of leader Winston Peters for planning to take legal action against National Party figures before Coalition negotiation began and questioned what impact that had on those talks.
Martin replied with an angry email, saying she was "deeply disappointed" by the comments.
It is a very rare breach of the internal secrecy of the party and will be a blow to Peters.
It comes just a week before New Zealand First's annual conference and days after its president, Lester Gray, resigned after citing concerns about the party's handling of its donations and finances.
Leaked emails reveal a standoff between party members and Martin.
Members were upset about the fact Peters had filed to sue the National Party over its alleged leaking of his Superannuation information just a day before the 2017 election.
A member sought an explanation from Peters as to how true and fair the Coalition negotiations were, given Peters was in the process of suing National while attempting to hammer out a deal to be in Government.
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In response, Martin said in an email she was "deeply disappointed" by the comments.
"None of us were aware of the papers filed by the Rt. Hon. Winston Peters because that was his private business and nothing to do with the formation of a government. None of us, particularly the Rt. Hon. Winston Peters, are that shallow," the email went on to say.
Martin also appeared upset at the implication that Peters conducted the Coalition negotiations without seeking advice from his caucus.
She also said she was "deeply offended" that members questioned not only the character of the Peters but had, by implication, suggested she, NZ First MPs and board members were puppets in the negotiations.
Documented minutes of a party meeting in November 2017 show members levelling criticism at Peters.
One member said New Zealand First needed to "come up with solutions and start a succession plan post Winston Peters".
Another said: "Resources for the campaign were not provided, no cogent policies, signs unreadable, distribution of sign issues, listing was confidential, no plan B (or even A) for Jacinder [sic]".
After the 2017 election, Helen Peterson – a long-time party member, who has stood for election three times – wrote a report titled "NZ First Concerns and issues regarding Election 2017". She has been approached for comment.
"A number of members nationwide have been extremely disappointed in the way in which the 2017 election campaign was handled," it said.
The documents reveal members felt the party's list showed disrespect for hardworking, loyal, hardworking and long-serving members, and favoured candidates who had personal relationships with those who select the list placement.
Members also complained the list process was sexist, as only three of the candidates in the top 18 were female.
It also shows members thought the campaign was unorganised, lacked leadership and had no strategy.
New Zealand First candidates were "for the most part unsupported" and given minimal mentoring or support by the board.
"The extent and magnitude of the issues demonstrate how the party will remain a third party for the foreseeable future unless there is an enormous shift towards accountability, adherence to the constitution and respect for its members."
Asked for comment, a spokesman for Peters said the Deputy Prime Minister "has no comment and party related documents, if that is what this is, should be referred to the party for comment".
Martin has been approached for comment.