The "wave of discontent" behind Brexit and that put Donald Trump in the White House has arrived in New Zealand, Winston Peters says.

In a speech to diplomats at the Swiss Embassy in Wellington today, the New Zealand First leader linked events including Brexit, the volatile Dutch election and Trump's rise to New Zealand politics ahead of September's general election.

Geert Wilders was an important factor in the election. It may be premature to conclude that the surge of discontent is over.

After Geert Wilders' anti-Islam party was defeated in the Netherlands elections last month, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte told supporters the result, coming after Brexit and Trump: "[people] said, 'Stop' to the wrong kind of populism," Peters said in his speech to the Asia Plus Group of Wellington, which consists of ambassadors and High Commissioners from a number of countries.

"Mr Geert Wilders was an important factor in the election. It may be premature to conclude that the surge of discontent is over."


Peters told his audience that economic "losers" are pushing back against the "cosmopolitan elite".

"Are these trends overseas of relevance to the New Zealand elections. The results of the New Zealand flag referendum may provide a clue."

A lack of investment in infrastructure, a "bogus surplus" made possible by funding cuts and freezes, Auckland's housing crisis and stagnant incomes meant "the wave of discontent seen in Europe and the United States is here," Peters said.

"The so-called experts could not understand why the British voted to get out of Europe, or why Americans voted in a property tycoon and reality TV star. It's because ordinary citizens were fed up.

"There are a great many people in New Zealand today who feel Wellington treats them as the forgotten people. The winds of change are coming to New Zealand."

Today's speech continues a populist, anti-establishment theme for Peters. After Trump's victory in the US presidential election last year he said the result was "a dramatic lesson for the commentariat, pollsters and the political establishment".

In May last year Peters addressed the United Kingdom's House of Lords after an invitation from UK Independence Party (Ukip) peer Lord Pearson of Rannoch.

Former Prime Minister John Key later labelled Peters "the Nigel Farage of New Zealand" during debate on immigration levels, but not everyone in Parliament is convinced of his anti-establishment credentials.


After the NZ First leader reacted to Trump's victory by tweeting: "Today the US joined the UK in sending the establishment a message", Green Party co-leader James Shaw retweeted with the comment: "Winston has been in Parliament since I was five years old."

Recent polls have pointed to Peters holding the balance of power after September's election.