Parliamentary kingmaker Winston Peters could almost have left it to the elements to explain regional land transport issues as he breezed through Hawke's Bay on one of the last days of his Campaign for the Regions tour - one of the coldest.

The 55-seat Scania on which he's been touring the country over the past fortnight - crossing on the Cook Strait ferry late on Tuesday and travelling through Wairarapa overnight - made it into Napier for just a few minutes for a 10am gig as more than 70 apparent supporters gathered in a Tamatea bar, coincidentally about the same time as Prime Minister Bill English was flying in for his spiel at Whakatu.

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On the way, Mr Peters had passed through Woodville, gateway to the now closed Manawatu Gorge, and he'd have plenty to say about that and things at the other end of provincial Hawke's Bay and the mothballed Napier-Gisborne railway line.


But it was all too short because the bus had to get moving, to miss the snow forecast to close State Highway 5 to Taupo, where he had another gathering lined up for 1pm - then Tauranga tomorrow, Thames on Friday, and his party's 24th annual convention in South Auckland on Saturday and Sunday.

On the road later in the day, Mr Peters could see the irony in what would have been the situation had Napier-Taupo been closed, with the state highway north from Hawke's Bay also closed since last Friday by a slip in the Waioeka Gorge between Gisborne and Opotiki.

"During our Campaign for the Regions tour, which is now in its 13th day, we have seen the impact on provincial New Zealand by the Government's neglect," Mr Peters said.

"We have seen roads that are not up to standard and others with too many big trucks on them. Rail lines that have been shut, tourism infrastructure not able to cope with demand, hospitals underfunded, small towns with shops closed or closing.

"Heartland New Zealanders are seriously brassed-off," he said "We have seen first-hand the signs of New Zealand losing control of its own destiny."

Mr Peters said Hawke's Bay with its horticultural was one of the nation's most productive regions, yet has one of the highest unemployment rates -"over 8 per cent," he said.

The region, he said, was experiencing what so many other regions were facing - "the brunt of a right-wing economic experiment gone horribly wrong".

As one promise Mr Peters vowed to do what he could to reopen the rail line, not just the sector KiwiRail plans to reopen at the instigation of local resources this year between Napier and Wairoa, but the whole way to Gisborne.

It must have been one of the tougher schedules for the 72-year-old since he entered Parliament as National Party MP for Hunua almost 39 years ago, in a unique political career which saw him leave the Nats in 1993, become a Deputy Prime Minister under two National Party Prime Ministers in their coalition agreements with NZ First, and then Foreign Minister under Labour Prime Minister Helen Clark.

With polls this week pointing to a possibility of his having an even stronger hand after the general election on September 23 - with a forecast of 13 seats for NZ First, enough to tango with either National or Labour in a close call - enhanced by Mr Peters' second place in preferred Prime Minister rankings, with Mr English on the way down.