24 Mar 2023

Winston Peters rails against secret 'woke agenda' in campaign speech

4:35 pm on 24 March 2023
Winston Peters delivers a scene-setting speech in Howick on Friday 24th of March, 2023.

Winston Peters delivers a scene-setting speech in Howick. Photo: RNZ / Jordan Dunn

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters - eyeing a political comeback - has used a scene-setting speech in Auckland warning against a "conceited, conniving, cultural cabal".

The former Deputy Prime Minister delivered his "real state of the nation" address at a public meeting attended by about 200 people in Howick, Auckland, on Friday afternoon.

New Zealand First was ejected from Parliament at the last election, falling short of the 5 percent threshold required for parties with no electorate seats.

The party has been sitting around the 3 percent mark in recent polls.

In his speech, Peters said an elite few had launched an assault on western values - including the notion of one person, one vote.

New Zealand First would change every government department's name which uses Te Reo Māori back to English, he said.

"This is not an attack on the Māori language - it is an attack on the elite virtue signallers who have hijacked the language for their own socialist means," he said.

"This conceited, conniving, cultural cabal doesn't represent hard-working ordinary Māori - they only seek to use Māori to further their own agenda - and some Māori secretly driving this agenda are of the people, but they're not for the people."

He said political engineers were using taxpayers' money to indoctrinate the public towards an all-out assault on western values.

"This elite - self-appointed, self-opinionated - have as their purpose the destruction of our cultural inheritance ... their paradigm claim is that New Zealand is institutionally racist and therefore a retarded society. This is peak madness."

"Today all they speak about is rights, they never speak about personal responsibility, never."

Winston Peters delivers a scene-setting speech in Howick on Friday 24th of March, 2023.

Attendees Photo: RNZ / Jordan Dunn

He also targeted co-governance, saying while Labour was furiously trying to put it on the backburner, too many - even in National - still believed it.

"The simple fact is, Māori ceded sovereignty to the Crown, because for years before 1840 they wanted law and order in their country," he said.

"In arguing partnership, they mean 50-50, even though the mass majority who claim to be Māori and who claim to be speaking on behalf of all Māori are not even half-Māori themselves."

Peters has previously ruled out working with Labour again.

He painted Labour and National as largely the same with many of the problems under the last National government having worsened including crises in housing, education, law-and-order and cost of living.

"There are people campaigning for this election with only one naked policy: "it's our turn now", he said, "surely you are asking the question 'your turn - to do exactly what?'."

He also promised New Zealand First would fight any attempt to change the retirement age, saying his party was the only one with a record of fighting for seniors.

On cost of living and employment, he offered up a helping of beneficiary bashing.

"The problem isn't the level of the benefit, it is the length of time spent on it - and the lack of incentive to get off it. Yes, we need to give a 'hand up' in people's time of need - but not create a 'hand out'."

"The fact is, the job seeker benefit list is now loaded with school leavers with low levels of education and no work experience."

Other commitments included funding for various charitable or non-profit causes: St John Ambulance, Plunket, Mike King's Gumboot Friday, Rescue Helicopters and Surf Lifesaving.

Pharmac would also benefit from the party's largesse, "but the first thing we are going to do is sort Pharmac out - they will concentrate on performance not puffery".

"That's what we should be investing in as a country, not Auckland Bridge cycleways, Auckland Light Rail, and countless other 'cultural virtue signalling' madness."

On law and order, he promised gang membership would be an automatic aggravating factor in sentencing, and assaults on first responders would carry an automatic six-month minimum mandatory prison sentence.

On energy and climate change, he said the Green Party was aiming to spend $16 billion on overseas carbon credits, which he argued should instead be spent on infrastructure, health and education.

However, the way the New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme works means money is only spent on credits where there are shortfalls in promised emissions reductions.

  • Former Speaker Trevor Mallard 'unreasonable, irrational, unjustified' in trespassing Winston Peters - High Court
  • PM Jacinda Ardern responds to Winston Peters' attacks on Labour government
  • Winston Peters puts Labour in the firing line at New Zealand First annual conference