New polling suggests most Kiwis don’t believe Winston Peters’ commitment not to work with the Labour Party.
In the latest Taxpayers’ Union - Curia poll, 1000 voters were asked whether they believed NZ First party leader Winston Peters when he says he would not work with Labour again.
Fifty-five per cent of respondents said no, 27 per cent said yes and 17 per cent were unsure.
NZ First chose to go with Labour following the 2017 election, despite more people voting for National than Labour. NZ First was booted out of Parliament in 2020 after earning just 2.6 per cent of the party vote.
Peters first revealed he wouldn’t work with Labour again to the Herald in November last year. He has repeated that message throughout the election campaign as recently as yesterday, when the party posted that position explicitly on social media.
This year, Labour leader Chris Hipkins made the same promise, saying he wouldn’t work with NZ First under any circumstances.
The poll, conducted between October 1-4, found 61 per cent of people who considered themselves National supporters did not believe Peters, while 24 per cent did.
It was largely the same for Labour supporters - 57 per cent didn’t believe Peters and 24 per cent did.
Fourteen per cent of National supporters were unsure, while 19 per cent of Labour voters were unsure.
Peters told the Herald voters were “most definitely” listening to his commitment not to work with Labour, despite attempts by his political opponents to seed doubt.
“I said to the Herald a long time ago exactly how I felt about what [Labour] had done with the trust that they were given.
“A whole lot of people have tried to undermine the sincerity of that statement and every one of my candidates, every one of the party, knows exactly what I’ve meant and why we mean it.
“[Voters] know full well I’ve never said that in 30 years and I said it for a reason.”
In recent weeks, National’s campaign strategy has pivoted to focus on encouraging the public to consider the uncertainty of the election result if they didn’t vote for National.
Much of that, while not explicitly stated, concerned NZ First’s rise in support and National’s preference to govern with Act alone. National leader Christopher Luxon has said he would work with NZ First if necessary.
Peters said National’s strategy wouldn’t affect the working relationship the two parties could have after October 14.
“We’re in a market for votes, so to speak. Whether that’s wise, they can examine that themselves but they must be saying to themselves right now, ‘our tactics aren’t working’.”
Three polls this week put NZ First above 5 per cent. The Taxpayers’ Union - Curia poll had the party up three percentage points to 6.9 per cent.
Peters, famously dismissive of polls, acknowledged there was “no doubt” the party was experiencing an upward trend.
Asked why, Peters believed it was because NZ First was “sticking to the issues” and didn’t use the public as a “photo opportunity”, as he alleged other parties had.
NZ First’s campaign almost exclusively comprised of public meetings all over the country, with only a handful of public walkabouts - which Peters said wouldn’t change in the final week of voting.
Adam Pearse is a political reporter in the NZ Herald Press Gallery team, based at Parliament. He has worked for NZME since 2018, covering sport and health for the Northern Advocate in Whangārei before moving to the NZ Herald in Auckland, covering Covid-19 and crime.