Winston Peters isn't going anywhere, according to Winston Peters.
He's got no plan to retire, no plan to lose and no plan to pick a side for next year's election.
Two years ago, the nation held its breath as the New Zealand First leader spoke the word "Labour", ending the drawn-out speculation about who would form the Government.
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It's just a happy coincidence, then, Peters says, that his party's members will this weekend meet for their annual convention - and for the start of their march towards the 2020 election.
"We'll be steeling our organisation for the task we've got ahead," he tells the Herald in his Beehive office.
But while Peters already has eyes on next year's election, 2017 is still calling.
A series of rare leaks of documents between NZ First's Auckland members in recent weeks gave a glimpse into the frustration about the way the party's last election campaign that year had been run, how candidates were chosen and money had been spent.
One member who left in the aftermath - long-time candidate Helen Peterson - says the party was run like a "dictatorship" (which Peters firmly rejects) and claims the anger was widespread, going well beyond one city.
Other senior former party members have told the Herald they believe the issue will inevitably loom over this year's convention.
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Peters shrugs off the complaint as coming from "a little pocket in Auckland" and a "meeting with a few disgruntled people who didn't think they were high enough on the list".
"This was a campaign that was so strategically successful ... that we forced the Labour Party to change their leadership," he says.
"Then they got all you guys shouting 'Jacindamania'."
NZ First was polling at about 10 per cent before Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern took the reins of the Labour Party in August 2017.
At one point, Peters pauses the interview to get out his phone and read out loud a series of texts he sent to a journalist rebuking them over a report that NZ First was sounding out the possibility of dropping out the Coalition Government early.
"Some of your stuff today is total BS," Peters reads.
"That's 'BS'. I didn't put the full words in."
In a separate ghost of elections past, this week saw new details released about a privacy breach lawsuit Peters lodged against National Party MPs in 2017.
He took up the case after it was revealed, ahead of the last election, he had repaid seven years of superannuation over-payments. He describes it as a "dirt campaign". National has consistently denied leaking the information. Peters says he has no plan to drop the case and will take it to court next month.
The timing is particularly jarring given, he says, not picking between Labour and National will be key to avoid becoming powerless after the next election.
Peters tells the Herald he had lodged the case the day before the 2017 election to get it out of the way.
"That had to be out of my mind, to not affect the decision I had to make," Peters says.
So when he takes the stage on Sunday for his speech to members – predicted to be about 40 minutes long - will he be taking a softer tone than last year, when he said National was "leaderless, moribund, vacuous and bitter"? Can he actually work with National despite the bad blood?
"You sometimes have to look at circumstances, saying 'this is the worst possible scenario but the country demands and needs a government and we're going to have to grit our teeth, shake hands and try and make it work'," Peters says.
Former NZ First MP Richard Prosser thinks Peters won't have to make the choice.
Prosser – who fell out of Parliament after being bumped down the party's list in 2017 – says the party has given up too much to Labour on immigration, firearms and 1080 and will struggle to get back in.
"I think too much of what was the core constituency is now disillusioned and disenfranchised, to the point they won't support them anymore ... I think people have been burnt one time too often," Prosser says.
"I know an awful lot of people who just let their membership lapse."
Prosser is also critical that there's no discussion of a plan for a successor to Peters, who has led the party since it was founded 26 years ago, and says the boat has sailed on the matter.
So does Peters have a plan for after Peters?
"The reason why parties have got succession plans is because they haven't got a leader. That's not New Zealand First's problem," the 74-year-old says, adding the media has been "ageistic" towards him.
"If ever I was bored with politics I would be gone a long time ago. I've always said I'm going to stay here while I'm interested and fascinated by it.
"There's plenty more things to do. But, for all its failings, you can do more in this profession than any other I know."
Political commentator Thomas Pryor is significantly more positive about NZ First's prospects for next year than Prosser and says, based on previous election-year bumps, the party will be comfortable currently sitting about 4 per cent in the polls.
"The balancing act for them over the next 12 months will be how do they separate themselves from Labour and the Greens on some of those core issues, like gun control ... without being seen as too destructive, of bringing the Government down," Pryor says.
"I think if anybody can do that, it's probably going to be Winston."