29 Sep 2018

Joseph Parker guest speaker at NZ First conference

3:54 pm on 29 September 2018

Boxer Joseph Parker has been a guest speaker at the New Zealand First 25th annual conference today.

Joseph Parker at the NZ First conference.

Joseph Parker at the NZ First conference. Photo: RNZ/Jo Moir.

Mr Parker said he had a "close relationship" with NZ First leader Winston Peters.

"He's been to a lot of the fights and he's always ringside and he's shown his support for me. The invitation was there so we wanted to show our support."

Mr Parker, who is the nephew of senior National MP Judith Collins, said he backed Mr Peters over National Party leader Simon Bridges in a battle.

Likewise he backed "Aunty Judith" to win in any fight against her colleague Amy Adams.

Ms Collins said she had no issue with her nephew attending the NZ First conference and she was very proud of him.More than 200 NZ First members descended on the Tauranga racecourse for the weekend to celebrate the party's anniversary and return to government.

Meanwhile, MP Shane Jones told the conference his comments about Air New Zealand in recent months as "colourful outbursts".

Mr Jones, the regional economic development minister, has been scathing of the management of Air New Zealand and the neglect of the regional flight service.

He said he used to get a front seat on Air New Zealand flights but was increasingly being moved further back.

In March, Mr Jones said it was irresponsible of the $5 billion company to degrade its services to the provinces.

"If that board of Air New Zealand - 51 percent owned by the Crown, bailed out by the Crown in recent times - thinks that they can continue to exist in some hermetically sealed environment, then as far as I'm concerned I've got news for them."

In a statement, Air New Zealand said a lack of commercial independence was viewed seriously by the board and could damage the interests of all shareholders, including the Crown.

Shane Jones

Regional economic minister Shane Jones joked that Air New Zealand had seated him further back in its planes since his criticisms earlier this year. Photo: RNZ / Dan Cook

The NZ First conference is celebrating the party being a coalition partner in the government for the first since the late 1990s.

Leader Winston Peters will make his keynote speech tomorrow.

However, it is expected to be devoid of any major policy announcements, instead focussing on where the party has come from and what next.

The focus today is on the party's new deputy leader, Fletcher Tabuteau, who is hosting panel discussions with the rest of the caucus.

The party membership will make new policy suggestions later this afternoon, expected to focus on the economy and environment.

In previous years, that section of the conference had a strong regional development flavour, but NZ First has secured a $3 billion provincial growth fund as part of its coalition deal with Labour, so much of what was wanted has been fulfilled.

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