Richard Prosser is back in the headlines after telling a business audience to sell their Contact Energy shares - given his party would bring electricity assets back under state control and only pay the price at which they were flogged off for.

Act leader David Seymour spoke to the Business NZ conference after Prosser yesterday and called him a "f***ing idiot" and a danger to New Zealand's economy.

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters issued a statement, saying Prosser's comments were a "throwaway line", and "had he had the time" to fully explain himself, he would have said the buyback of power companies would only be when shares became available.

Prosser has a reputation for causing the occasional controversy, with the first coming shortly after he entered Parliament in November 2011 over a column he wrote in Investigate called for the banning of the burqa in New Zealand.


Prosser's column, Eyes Right, ran in Investigate magazine for 10 years and was collected and published as a book, Uncommon Dissent: The Evolution of a Kiwi Nationalist, which included a description of Helen Clark's Labour Government as the "hijacking of New Zealand" by "a conspiracy of Silly Little Girls".

His column caused the biggest controversy of the MP's career in 2013 after he wrote that young Muslim men - or those who look Muslim - should be barred from flying on Western airlines.

That was reasonable, Prosser wrote, because New Zealanders' rights were being "denigrated by a sorry pack of misogynist troglodytes from Wogistan". The spur for the column was the confiscation of Prosser's pocket knife at Christchurch Airport.

Peters said he was disappointed in the comments and Prosser apologised and had dinner with a Muslim couple who wrote to the Herald to challenge his comments, arriving with a peace offering of a bouquet of flowers and a box of chocolates.

He also arranged to visit a mosque in Ranui, the West Auckland suburb where he was born. His family later shifted to the Waikato. Prosser is a qualified winemaker and viticulturist, who has also worked as a truck driver and pub manager.

He was involved in "South Island First", a pressure group with the objective of establishing a southern parliament, and has cited Labour's scrapping of the Air Force combat wing as a reason he chose to enter politics.

After standing for Democrats for Social Credit in 2005 Prosser, who has advocated for compulsory military training, joined NZ First after hearing Peters speak at the Rangiora RSA.

Prior to entering Parliament as fourth on the party list he worked in the agricultural irrigation industry, and now holds his party's agriculture portfolio, as well as biosecurity, state owned enterprises, fisheries, and forestry.

As outdoor recreation spokesman, Prosser has recently spoken out against the use of 1080 - saying the Government shows disrespect for Kiwis who don't want the poison near their property and animals.

He also rubbished National's goal of making New Zealand pest-free by 2050, saying "our birds and lizards have co-existed alongside ferrets and stoats for more than 130 years, cats for 200 years, and rats for more than 800 years, yet we still have birds and lizards".

Prosser's senior position in the party was reflected in his placing at number three on the party list ahead of the 2014 election - behind only Peters and then-deputy leader Tracey Martin.

However, his position in the party has slipped after the arrival of first-term MPs such as Fletcher Tabuteau and Darroch Ball, and the reshuffle caused by Ron Mark's elevation to the deputy position. Further pressure will come after the arrival of Shane Jones, and performance of other MPs such as Clayton Mitchell.

New Zealand First is yet to release its list for this year's election. It must submit the list to the Electoral Commission on Monday.