Winston Peters and Shane Jones voted in favour of gun law reforms but shared a good laugh at ending up at Gun City owner David Tipple's house for dinner last night.
The Deputy Prime Minister and Regional Economic Development Minister, who are also New Zealand First MPs, auctioned off a dinner with them to raise funds for Koru Care, a charity that gives sick children dream trips and adventures.
"They sort of snickered about ... would they have done it if they'd known they'd end up with a gun dealer," Tipple told the Herald.
"They didn't put it quite that way, but they were quite clear that they got more than they bargained for when they said 'no holds barred' on who they'd eat with."
Tipple won the dinner with a $7350 bid, the second such dinner he has won after winning an auction to dine with then-Prime Minister John Key in 2010.
The dinner with Peters and Jones took place last night after New Zealand First's annual conference in Christchurch.
Tipple has voiced strong opposition to the Government's gun law reforms, but he said the occasion was not political and they only briefly discussed firearms.
"I tried to keep the gun debate out of it. Both of them are shooters - Winston had a surprising knowledge on firearms - and they're both keen sportsmen who love their fishing.
"They are two intelligent guys with a heart and they've got the voters' interests at heart. Rather than the rushed knee-jerk legislation we had after March 15, we'll get some more reasoned legislation from here on."
The Government's first round of gun law reforms, which have already passed into law, outlawed most military-style semi-automatic firearms and assault rifles.
The second round, currently before select committee, would establish a national gun register and stricter rules around who is eligible for a firearms licence.
Peters and Jones were among the NZ First MPs that spoke to a rally on Saturday organised by the gun community; Peters promised them that the party would keep an open mind.
Tipple did not join the rally because he was taking care of a long to-do list before the dinner, which catered for about 30 people including Tipple's 17 grandchildren, and five or his six children along with their spouses.
"Betsy my wife cooked. She popped down to New World and bought three legs of lamb. We got through two of them.
"Winston commented on how much he liked that kind of meal. Often he's sitting in a flash situation where the chefs spend five minutes telling him what he's eating and how it was prepared, and he said he'd rather have something simple."
He said he was impressed by Jones' reverence towards Peters, which was a humorous contrast to Peters' insistence on being on a first-name basis with the Tipples.
"He's very respectful of Winston, really looks up to him. He called him 'Deputy Prime Minister' all evening, whereas we had been given permission to call him as 'Winston'.
"My wife commented: 'I'm glad that's the case because the kids have already written 'Winston' on his place mat'.
"One of the crowning moments was when my 13-year-old granddaughter walked up to Winston and asked him for a selfie, and he very willingly obliged. I didn't see her take one with Shane. Deputy Prime Minister has a definite ring to it."
Jones told the Herald that he had about as many grandchildren as Tipple.
"And just as many children, if not more. It was a traditional, enjoyable evening."
He said they had an exchange of food, ideas and family stories.
"There is no suggestion we made any commitments at all in terms of how the party will help shepherd through the final tranche of gun laws. None whatsoever.
"The party will look at the submissions and then determine what changes are fair and balanced."
Jones said the Government's first round of reforms was "absolutely required", given the horrific events of March 15.
"I personally don't want to see anything that taints the community of people who love hunting, who are farmers and who enjoy guns.
"We don't want permissiveness in New Zealand in terms of gun culture like there is in America. We most certainly don't want that."
After the Ministers had left, Tipple said his wife pulled out a surprise birthday cake for his birthday, which is tomorrow.
The family tradition was saying something nice about the birthday person, but Tipple said that Peters and Jones had already left by then.
Tipple joked: "They didn't have to say something nice about David Tipple."