The mischief in me wants Winston Peters to win Northland. The upset would be huge. National would lose a seat to New Zealand First.

Peter Dunne would be emboldened by National needing him and Act to pass legislation. Dunne says he would revisit his Supply and Confidence agreement with National - a deal made when his position was less propitious.

It would be a big hit on the Government. Peters would take one of National's safest seats. National's election night outright-win would be reduced to two votes short. The smallest tail would wag the biggest dog.

A Peters win would destabilise the Government and power up a Wellington electorate MP. Ohariu would benefit - not Northland. On winning Northland, Peters would resign as a list MP to clear the way for the next candidate on New Zealand First's list. That candidate is Ria Bond ... from Invercargill.


That's right. In choosing Peters, Northland voters would be electing an MP from Invercargill. Those in the Far North would elect a candidate from the deep south.

But it gets better.

Peters lives in Auckland. Parliament is in Wellington. That's how he divides his time. Kerikeri is 250km north of Auckland. So Peters is asking the people of Northland to vote for an Aucklander to elect an MP from Invercargill and empower an MP from Wellington.

It's possible Peters could win. Byelections have low turnouts and provide the opportunity to send Government a message.

Peters certainly must campaign. He can't afford to do poorly. To come third behind Labour's candidate would prove too big a rejection.

I could walk across the Epsom electorate on a lazy Sunday afternoon. Northland is a different proposition. It's vast and rugged. I spent a hair-raising day with local legend and then-MP John Carter driving across just a fraction of it.

Carter's stories and jokes came thick and fast as I kept my seatbelt tight and my body braced. Carter knew every corner and every bend and drove accordingly.

We had big distances to travel between meetings. I preferred my leisurely Sunday walks.


Peters is 70 this year. It's a long way from Auckland to Northland. It's even further across the electorate. Peters will be bogged down and busy doing the bare minimum needed to be local MP. I doubt the region will be much troubled by him.

And he would lose in 2017. Northland will return a National candidate in a General Election.

It has been 40 years since Peters stood for Northern Maori. He's late in rediscovering the north but his campaign is exciting.

I believe he prefers a close second. Winning would be altogether too much work.

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