It was the week in which NZ First leader Winston Peters acted out the old nursery rhyme of 'knick knack paddy whack, give a dog a bone.'

The paddy whack was the 2008 law change that prevented parents smacking their children as punishment.

Peters clearly felt there was a bit of juice to be chewed out of that old bone again as the 2017 election loomed.

Debate on the law change had rather subsided since the law was passed in 2008 and a referendum on it a year later in 2009, in which almost 90 per cent answered 'no' to the question "should a smack as part of good parental correction be a criminal offence in New Zealand?"


Key ignored that referendum, settling for telling voters he would move to change it only if he saw evidence that good parents were being punished for trivial offences.

Both National and Labour have studiously let the issue lie since then.

Peters has decided he wants it repealed.

He delivered a speech in Waipu at which he explained that it was causing more violence against children and was also causing children to be more violent.

It was one of the causes of "little tow-rag offenders" creating mayhem. The example he gave was a group of young 'uns in Kaikohe attacking a shop.

These youth, he claimed, were "socially DNA-ed for destruction." They were "running riot."

He diagnosed political correctness as the main cause - and Wellington as the source of it, urging the good people of Waipu not to remain "docile" and to rise up with their fellow provincials.

The answer was to cut the benefits of parents if their children misbehaved, lower the age of criminal responsibility and to give them a good old-fashioned smacking.


He spoke of the 1930s when benefits were paid to mothers because they were "more likely to spend the money wisely" than fathers.

Peters' declaration was welcomed by what remains of the Conservative Party at least. It is not a new tune for Peters, but one he has dusted off again and is based one his view that a Government should act on a compelling result in a referendum.

But it will have created some nervousness for Labour leader Andrew Little or National leader Bill English.

Both are watching Peters' pile of demands slowly grow before their eyes and conducting their own guesses as to which they might have to give way on as a price for Peters' support.

While English has been heard to bemoan that kids these days have life too easy, neither will want to re-awaken the putrid beast of the smacking debate.

Both will be hoping it is simply part of Peters' driftnet strategy to campaigning -a Pin the Tail on the Cause approach to push as many buttons as he can.

His other releases of late include berating a job ad in Opotiki for a worker fluent in Chinese, land sales to foreigners, manuka honey standards, 1080, foreigners in New Zealand, foreigners on their way to New Zealand, foreigners who want to be in New Zealand, and foreign companies not paying taxes in New Zealand.

His latest target was foreign animal poo. He issued a press release about a decision to allow compost made from animal manure to be imported from Europe to New Zealand to grow mushrooms.

Peters could not see what was wrong with good old Made in NZ poo to grow mushrooms.

He went into bat for New Zealand's poo. New Zealand had all the poo, the best poo.

He said farmers were already under fire for excess production of the stuff and the impact on the environment - yet here the Government was bringing it in from overseas.

There was much use of the word 'scatology' - the study of animal poos. Peters likes to use the words "bovine scatology" as a substitute for 'bullsh**' - or as Peters' himself rather more decorously puts it, bulldust.

The general gist of the manure argument was that there was already plenty of bulldust generated in New Zealand without importing more of it.

And that's a fact, Winston.