New Zealand First leader Winston Peters has apologised to party members for making mistakes in the run up to last year's election, it was reported today.

The Newsroom website said it had obtained an email sent to NZ First membership last week appealing for them to put the events of 2008 behind them and prepare for the 2011 election campaign.

"Before we make a new beginning we want to use the hardest word in the English language - SORRY," Mr Peters is reported to have said.

"We acknowledge that we made mistakes. In keeping out eyes on the big picture, we failed to appreciate the importance of the details.

"We allowed our opponents to create a perception of wrongdoing, when in fact, no offences were committed. This will not happen again."

Mr Peters spent most of 2008 defending revelations that his party had channelled large donations through secret trusts to avoid disclosure.

This culminated in controversy over a $100,000 donation from expat businessman Owen Glenn towards Mr Peters legal fees.

At first Mr Peters denied the donation happened and once it became public denied that he knew about it.

A parliamentary inquiry found on the balance of evidence Mr Peters had known about the donation and he was censured for not disclosing it.

Various authorities investigated Mr Peters but no charges were laid.

Mr Peters blamed a media and big business conspiracy for events and in the 2008 election NZ First failed to get 5 per cent of the vote it needed to return to Parliament.

Mr Peters avoided the media after that, but appeared recently on TVNZ's Q&A programme to attack the Government's consideration of repealing the foreshore and seabed.

The Newsroom website said Mr Peters' email thanked supporters for their help and looked forward to NZ First's annual meeting at the end of August.

Mr Peters said in the email that NZ First would campaign on the Government's economic management, the Auckland single council model, the cutting of funding to adult education classes and the end of free ACC physiotherapy.

The email also refers to the Foreshore and Seabed Act and the move to repeal it, which Mr Peters has said will move New Zealand down the road to separatism.

Mr Peters could not be contacted today.

- NZPA