A roomful of shuffling, giggling, backchatting schoolboys who know more about economics than most adults should be enough to terrify any politician.

Yesterday New Zealand First leader Winston Peters showed he can charm adolescents just as expertly as he woos their grannies, revealing some lesser-known aspects of his eternally complex political persona to the Year 12 and 13 Economics class of Tauranga Boys College.

This was a Winston who speaks Hebrew, supports Asian immigrants, likes Muslims, welcomes homosexual family members and thinks Tauranga would be a great place to go on the dole.

Not surprisingly, the boys were impressed.

"If you're going to be on the dole, where would you rather be - Kawerau or Tokoroa or some freezing cold place? It's much better to be in Tauranga because it's nice and warm," Mr Peters said during a riff on the glories of his home town, seemingly unconcerned that this might not be the most inspirational advice for budding jobseekers.

"I'm feeling lucky," Mr Peters grinned, waving a Lotto ticket in the air as he set the room guffawing with a joke about a Jewish fella called Malachi.

"Before you rush off thinking 'Ah, here comes one of his racist jokes' - which I never tell - I did Hebrew for my language at university."

The boys gave a tentative laugh but Mr Peters was serious. "I did. Before some journalist rushes off and misinterprets what I was going to say, the Old Testament was my textbook."

It was an attempt to get a bit of racial preference, he said.

"I was at University and I was doing law and I needed a classics subject, I looked around and went past this class and noticed up on the board were eight people signed up for ancient Hebrew, and all their names looked like they were Jewish. I thought, well, if I as a Gentile put my name up there, then I might get some pretty special treatment. They won't want me to fail. So I signed up to it, and luckily I passed, and it was one of the greatest things I ever did because it was fascinating."

The joke involved Malachi begging Jehovah to let him win Lotto, so that he could pay for his sick daughter's operation.

"She couldn't wait for the hospital waiting lists - that's how you know it's about a New Zealand Jew," Mr Peters said. "God said, Malachi, Malachi, give me a break, buy a ticket.

"There's a moral to this story," Mr Peters said. "You've got to be in it to win it."

Most of these boys cannot vote, but they will all next week cast their ballots in Tauranga Boys' famous pre-election political poll, which has become famous for correctly predicting eight of the past 10 election results.

They came a little unstuck in 1999 and 2002 by forecasting National victories - results which deputy principal Rob Naumann attributed to the complexities of the MMP voting system.

The boys have spent the past fortnight firing questions at candidates from all political parties, but 'Winny' was clearly the highlight.

Matthew Matuschka, 17, asked the politician if he would disown a son or daughter who was homosexual.

The gleaming Peters smile only widened. "No, I wouldn't disown them. I tell you it's the first time in my whole career I've ever been asked that question."

Then Matthew delivered a beatifully timed heckle in the middle of Peters' favourite trick, the gospel church call-and-reply.

"Do you know who introduced NCEA?" Mr Peters demanded. "National!" the boys chorused back.

Mr Peters kept up the rhythm. "Do you know who uncapped funding for the Wananga?", to which the boys shouted "National!", enjoying the game.

Then came the thundering crescendo. "And guess who passed the RMA?" Within a nanosecond Matthew yelled "New Zealand First!" and the room collapsed in laughter.

The cheeky one got his reward outside the hall when he sold Mr Peters two $2 chocolate bars to raise funds for a class trip to Wellington.

"He gave me $5 and said to keep the change," Matthew said. "I'm probably going to vote National (in the poll). I hope they have a coalition with Winny - I mean Mr Peters."