Winston Peters - NZ First leader

1:28 pm on 8 August 2014

Winston Peters has had a long and colourful political career. He first entered Parliament as the National Party MP for Hunua in 1978, after winning an Electoral Petition.

Mr Peters lost the Hunua seat in 1981, and then re-entered Parliament in 1984 as National's MP for Tauranga, a seat he held onto until 2005.

When National won the 1990 election, Mr Peters became Minister of Maori Affairs and a member of Cabinet. But his outspoken views often conflicted with the party's, and in October 1991 he was dismissed from Cabinet and in 1993 the party refused to let him stand as a National candidate in the upcoming election.

Winston Peters resigned, forcing a by-election in Tauranga. He stood as an independent and won with 90.8% of the vote. From there, he set up the New Zealand First Party.

NZ First leader Winston Peters.

Winston Peters, New Zealand First leader. Photo: RNZ / Diego Opatowski

New Zealand First went on to win two seats at the 1993 general election and 17 seats, including all of the Maori electorates in the first MMP election in 1996. That year the party entered into a coalition agreement with National, which saw Winston Peters appointed Deputy Prime Minister and Treasurer. Later, however, tensions began to develop between Mr Peters and the National Party, and after a dispute over the privatisation of Wellington International Airport, Winston Peters was sacked from Cabinet again in August 1998. He immediately broke off the coalition and led New Zealand First back on the opposition benches for the next six years.

Following the September 2005 election, Winston Peters was back in the executive, becoming the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Minister for Racing and Associate Minister of Seniors Citizens in a confidence and supply arrangement with the Labour Government.

In 2008 the New Zealand First fell just below the five percent threshold and spent three years in the wilderness. Mr Peters was returned to Parliament in 2011, along with seven other New Zealand First MPs.

Election 2014