If politics was the Olympics, Winston Peters would be three-times triple-gold. No one comes close.

He was in Parliament before three of our Prime Ministers and before Hon Nikki Kaye was born. He has sat through eight Prime Ministers, seven National Party leaders and nine Labour Party leaders.

He has been New Zealand First's leader for 23 years. Thirty-four New Zealand First MPs rode in on his coat-tails.

He is our longest-serving MP but presents as our angry outsider hell-bent on change. Only Peters could pull that off.


Peters has been front and centre of debate.

He has had more ups and downs than the Cook Strait ferry. He has been tossed out of Cabinet. He has been tossed out of Parliament. He's had his own Party implode. He has ridden through it all.

Twice, he has been king-maker. He chose Prime Minister Jim Bolger over Helen Clark in 1996 and Prime Minister Helen Clark over Don Brash in 2005.

He now looks set to choose between Andrew Little and John Key. After all votes are counted he could well decide who will be Prime Minister and which parties govern.

And he makes it all look effortless.

I used to think Peters was lazy.

I would describe him now as having an extreme economy of effort. He's a political tuatara dozing in the sun, rousing only when absolutely necessary.

He has seen Prime Ministers and MPs turn up to puff and strut and then go. He has watched our Parliament evolve from First Past the Post to MMP and seen the media, once printing press and paper, become Twitter and blogs.


He has half a hooded eye on the bright young things. It appears he's dozing but he's ready to pounce. He has been that way since the Jurassic.

The journalists are making stories about Peters' successor. Could it be Shane Jones (who isn't a New Zealand First member) or his deputy, Ron Mark?

That story has been played over and over again, too. It was going to be Tau Henare. Then Brendan Horan.

The journalists know nothing. Peters' successor isn't yet born.