Dargaville might not be big enough.

Northland MP Winston Peters this week opened a new office in the town, famous for its kumara and where he attended secondary school.

A couple of weeks earlier and not far from the town's racecourse, National Party members attending Field Days plotted his downfall.

"There were a lot of people coming to talk about potential candidates, and finding the right one and suggesting names," said Cabinet Minister Steven Joyce. "There is a lot of interest."


Tomorrow is the anniversary of Mr Peters' stunning Northland byelection victory -- campaign slogan Send Them A Message -- which caught the Government off guard.

In a Parliamentary career that began in 1978, capturing Northland after the resignation of Mike Sabin rates as one of Peters' great political triumphs.

It's also serving as a blueprint for his party's 2017 election campaign.

The same message used in the byelection -- that the Government and Wellington bureaucrats had neglected Northland for years -- is being applied to other regions.

"STOP THE BALONEY OVER RURAL ROADS" is the title of one of many region-focused press releases recently sent out. "GLOBAL DAIRY TRADE DOWN -- NATIONAL OUT OF IDEAS," another.

Peters, whose chief of staff David Broome is the former communications chief at Federated Farmers, sees the pressure being put on rural communities by dairy prices as increasing discontent among normally National-inclined voters.

"It is seriously adding to that [sense of frustration] ... to come out in the middle of an absolute crisis with a $409 million profit and say, 'Look how well we are doing' ... is a disgrace. What's the government saying about it? Not a word."

Joyce, who is Economic Development Minister and was National's campaign director for the Northland byelection, said Mr Peters was trying to play politics with the regions, but people living there would reject his "isolationist" policies, instead recognising the importance of the Trans-Pacific Partnership and other trade agreements.

Joyce said some regions such as the Bay of Plenty were doing very well, as primary industries other than dairy picked up.

"But I've also spent quite a bit of time in regions like Taranaki recently ... it's tough at the moment, nobody is arguing against that, but they are also an intelligent region that knows there is nothing that a Winston could do about world dairy prices more than anybody else."

On Northland, Joyce said a regional action plan had been started before the byelection, that had ramped up since.

Asked about the prospect of recapturing Northland next year, Mr Joyce said the Government was more focused on helping regions like the North grow -- but said there would be no shortages of candidates when the time came.

NZ First is getting ready. Another office will open in Kaitaia early next month, making five electorate offices across the region.

It will need to be a strong National candidate to unseat the veteran operator, who will be 71 at the next election. Joyce is happy to fire a shot himself.

"We have history in that regard. We took him on in Tauranga when he was the MP there and he left town."