By HELEN TUNNAH
The solitary Chinese protester stood resolute, waiting for New Zealand First leader Winston Peters to arrive and refusing organisers' pleas to move on.
"The man is like a mad dog," You Wang Shi said. "He is a racist. He only talks about Asian immigration."
His cardboard sign repeated his claims: "Winston Peters is a racist. We work, we pay tax, we deserve better treatment."
You Wang Shi came to New Zealand six years ago from China. A draughtsman, he lives in Manukau East, and talked yesterday outside an election meeting.
He said Mr Peters had attacked Asian immigration over two elections, but not other racial groups.
Mr Peters pointedly ignored You Wang Shi when he arrived at the Logan Campbell Centre for the meeting, organised by Auckland Chinese Communities and Associations. He ignored as well the shouts of "Mr Peters, you are a racist".
Earlier the original "mad dog" Richard Prebble had agreed with You Wang Shi's placard. Inside, the Act leader told 200 people that Mr Peters was running a racist campaign.
"When you vote for Act you are opposing him."
Mr Peters was booed by a few in the audience, but they were quickly hushed and he was given time to talk about immigration, a policy plank which has lifted his party's fortunes this campaign.
He defended his calls to cut the numbers of people moving here, saying leaders in Asian countries agreed a nation must provide for its own people first.
He attacked aspects of immigration, mostly illegal - such as gaining residency through sham marriages or false documents.
Mr Peters distributed his speech in English and Asian languages. He said he wanted Asians to know what he was saying, instead of what media and political "shysters" such as Mr Prebble claimed he said.
Was it a surprise that someone with a 1000-year ancestry might be concerned about his country's future?
Mr Peters said his ancestry went back to mainland China. Research suggested Maori were from the same gene pool as a mainland China tribe.
"That means I have Chinese blood in me," he said in his prepared speech. "No New Zealand First policy has ever been anti-Asian, anti-Chinese or anti any race."
The audience seemed unconvinced. To his right, Finance Minister Michael Cullen and Green MP Keith Locke were unimpressed. To his left, New Zealand's only ethnic Asian MP, National's Pansy Wong, shuffled closer to Mr Prebble.
Mr Peters asked the crowd to give New Zealand First their party vote. The response, a chorus of "no's".
But one elderly man had a question: "How would you expect to win any votes from us here - maybe just one vote from me," he said touching his grey hair. " ... You have a lot of guts to come here".
After several minutes criticising Mr Peters, he apologised and sat down.
Mr Peters replied he did not feel outnumbered: "One man who's right is a majority."
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