NZ First leader won’t commit to area if he loses byelection

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters hopes to stand in Northland again in 2017 if he wins the byelection but will not commit to the seat if he loses.

Asked if he would stand again in 2017 Mr Peters, 69, said those decisions would be made closer to the election.

"But the reality is, do I want to have a period to deliver for Northland from a parliamentary seat as their representative? Yes, I would."

Asked if he would stand again even if he lost, he replied, "We are not going into this campaign to lose."

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After Mr Peters announced his campaign, Prime Minister John Key and Labour leader Andrew Little both pointed to his age, saying he was clearly at the end of his career while their candidates were at the start.

Mr Peters' comments about his future plans were firmer than last week, when he refused to say if he would stand in 2017. Asked if Northlanders deserved to know if he was in for the long haul or simply the rest of this term, he replied that his long career in politics proved he knew what the long haul was.

Meanwhile, his rival, National candidate Mark Osborne, will at least be able to beat Mr Peters in one type of competition: bench-pressing.

The powerlifter revealed he can bench-press 220kg.

"I can probably bench-press half of the NZ First Party."

Mr Osborne holds several Northland records and qualified for the Commonwealth and Oceania Power Lifting championships last year but could not go because of work commitments. He expects to qualify again this year for the championships in Canada in December.

On the byelection trail yesterday, the Prime Minister and Communications Minister Amy Adams visited Kerikeri to remind voters of election policy on the progress on the broadband rollout in the region and the likelihood Kerikeri would benefit from a regional fund.

That prompted the exchange of words between Mr Key and Mr Peters to continue after Mr Peters accused National of hurling gifts at Northland after ignoring it for decades.

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Mr Key said it was "a bit rich" coming from Mr Peters given his promises to expand the Whangarei port and get a rail link to the port with no way of ensuring it happened.

He said Northland had voted strongly for National over the term of his Government because it had delivered.

"We are not going to stop doing that just because Winston Peters has all of a sudden discovered Northland after 40 years of ignoring it."

Mr Peters said the port would be developed by investment, rather than Government funding.

"To say that a politician is promising money for that is just plain balderdash."