Winston Peters has welcomed comments by new National leader Todd Muller suggesting the party's ban on working with New Zealand First Party could be reviewed.

The policy ruling out Peters' New Zealand First party was driven by former leader Simon Bridges and announced in February this year.

But at his first press conference as new leader, Muller said it was possible it could be "refreshed".

"It's a far more intelligent stance than someone who has just gone, who ruled me out, and I said at the time there will come a time and soon when they will want to talk about that more than I do," Peters said.


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"You never say never because in the end you are caught in circumstances either before or after the election where the number one thing … is whether they are going to get a stable government.

"You are caught with people who have done their best to crucify you and visa versa, and it is a campaign type of battle that goes on, but the day after the election, the number one thing has got to be 'how can a stable government be formed from these circumstances.

"And anybody who says 'never, never, never' hasn't even thought about the responsibility they may have, like Simon Bridges."

Strategy mattered and Bridges did not seem to understand that," Peters said.

"That's rather sad. He had no strategic understanding of the calling he was in."

When asked about the ban on working with New Zealand First after the election, Muller said today: "It is quite possible, maybe, that in the future we could refresh that – I don't know."

The current position was clear. "Let's see if it changes in the future," he said.

NZ First leader and former National MP Winston Peters was the first guest of Todd Muller's Young Nats at Waikato University. Photo / Mark Mitchell
NZ First leader and former National MP Winston Peters was the first guest of Todd Muller's Young Nats at Waikato University. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Muller also revealed that when he formed the Young Nationals at Waikato University in 1988, his first guest speaker had been Winston Peters, then a National MP.

Unusually for Peters, who has harboured a deep animosity for the past five National leaders, he wished Muller and his deputy, Nikki Kaye, well.

"I've known Mr Muller since his university days and wish both him and Nikki Kaye the very best in their new jobs.

"Their difficulty of course is the National Party is deeply divided, with too many factions all wishing to march to the beat of a different drum."

Peters was not particularly gracious to defeated leader Bridges, and revived an earlier prediction he had made about Bridges.

"Which other politician put their reputation on the line and said 'this guy is never going to make it to the election?'" Peters said.

Bridges and his deputy, Paula Bennett, were both defeated.

There is a strong feeling within the National Party that Peters led parallel talks with National and Labour after the last election in 2017 but had no intention of going with National.

It was revealed after the talks that Peters initiated legal action against Bennett and four others (over details of his superannuation overpayment) during the negotiations.

New Zealand First went on to choose Labour, anointing Jacinda Ardern as Prime Minister and making Peters Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister in a Coalition Government, supported by the Greens.

National's policy ruling out New Zealand First was endorsed by the National Party board and the caucus and would require the support of both to have the policy overturned.