It was in a bar, where mad schemes are often conceived.

This time though, it was a scheme unveiled.

NZ First leader Winston Peters announced former Labour Cabinet minister Shane Jones as the party's candidate for Whangarei.

It happened around lunchtime in a bar called Pure in the centre of Whangarei.


Everybody knew it was coming. There were no surprises. Twenty minutes beforehand, Jones' partner Dot was bustling about with Peters' partner Jan.

Jones himsef was lurking around the back of the bar, so again, no surprises.

In the small balcony area outside Pure, under the awning onto the street, NZ First signage competed for space with Peters' old jousting partner, the media.

Peters' latest refrain is 'we don't need you people'. Like Donald Trump, Peters has discovered social media lets him talk directly to the public. Fewer questions to answer that way, too.

And yet, the big reveal of the least surprising surprise had to wait for Newshub's Lloyd Burr, caught by fog at Auckland airport.

That was probably a bigger surprise. The pair clashed in Parliament a few weeks back after Burr referred to NZ First's "no-name MPs".

Furious, Peters told him: "You're entitled to have an opinion, nobody gives a rat's arse about it."

But today, Peters waited for Burr and his opinion. And today, he had a likely future MP to announce whose name was very recognisable.

Peters told the crowd of 100 how experience was needed.

"This is no time to be looking for novices or MPs with training wheels on."

When Jones took the stage (after Burr had arrived, no training wheels required), his face was instantly more recognisable than the NZ First MPs flanking the stage.

He spoke of making change, rail to the north and growing the port. As a dog growled and warbled along in the background, he spoke of how politics was the place to be if you wanted to make change.

And he was here to make change, he said.

It became clear shortly after, as he positioned himself in front of the NZ First campaign bus, that "here" actually meant "here in Whangarei" if he beat National's Shane Reti and his 13,000 vote majority.

Until then, he was planning on living outside the electorate, an hour's drive to the north on the outskirts of Kerikeri.

Some other things also became clear.

A recognisable face is such because of the history they have.

Sure, no one asked him about spending taxpayer money on porn. That subject has been flogged.

But there were questions about William Yan, the Chinese immigrant for whom he approved citizenship - since convicted of money-laundering.

Yan's citizenship is being scrutinised by Internal Affairs Peter Dunne. Even with all the water under the bridge, Jones wasn't going to make a call on whether he should remain a citizen.

And neither was Peters, for all he had previously attacked political donations from the businessman apparently showing New Zealand was a country where people could "buy their way in".

It seem extraordinary Peters didn't have a view on Yan's citizenship. Until now, he's been consistently outspoken on the issue.

Just 30 minutes earlier, Peters was raging about Peter Thiel, the American billionaire who got citizenship after just 12 days in New Zealand.

He doesn't need the media but he waits for the media. He is outraged at the "buying" of citizenship but not all the time.

It's election season and the cognitive dissonance of Peters is as strong as ever.

He marches to the beat of his own drum, as uneven as it might be.