Winston Peters stood before the lecture hall full of students and imagined something he has refused to talk about before - retirement.

The New Zealand First leader had been asked by a student in the Victoria University first-year political studies class whether the party he formed in 1993 would collapse whenever he left politics.

Peters said he had enough confidence in his MPs and candidates still to come - Shane Jones wasn't named - to be certain of NZ First would go from strength to strength.

"I hope one time to be out on my fishing boat listening to Parliament about half past three in the afternoon, listening to my colleagues being gloriously successful in the future of New Zealand politics," said Peters, 72. "And I hope you are helping them."


The class has heard from several MPs this year but Peters, who first entered Parliament in 1973, drew the biggest crowd yesterday.

He sprinkled his comments with well-worn epithets.

Parliament was "living proof that New Zealanders can take a joke", Peters said, and an examination of people who had become Cabinet ministers or Prime Minister showed "New Zealand is still a country of opportunity" and the current line-up "look like they got their jobs in a raffle".

Peters criticised cuts to humanities at universities because of bean-counters who didn't realise the value of the critical, independent thinking such degrees taught - attributes recognised and valued by businessman Sir Bob Jones when hiring graduates, he said.

And while no comment was made on John Key becoming a Sir, Peters said not giving Jim Anderton a knighthood in the Queen's Birthday honours was "seriously churlish" and because he didn't come from National's tribe.

When the Northland MP opened the floor to questions there was a pause, and then a woman asked the most well-worn question of all: "Who are you going to go into coalition with?"

"I just know you are going to leave this university and you are going to be a journalist, aren't you," Peters shot back.

"Have you ever heard this expression - only a fool tests the water with both feet? Or, can you play cards without seeing them? Because I can't."


Finally, Peters was asked how long he would make the country wait should he be king-maker after September 23.

He told the class - many of whom wouldn't have been born in 1996 - the questioner had obviously been seriously misinformed.

The 1996 election was the first under MMP, Peters said, and after the "rules of engagement" had been sorted out it took his party seven weeks to make a decision.

"Meanwhile, the media were saying I was holding the country to ransom. That's a bull-dust explanation."

The party hated the expression "king-maker", Peters said.

"I want you to leave this room this afternoon in no doubt that in the 2017 election this is a three-way fight.

"And we are one of the three."