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Candidate profile: Winston Peters

Wednesday 12 Oct 2011 3:44 p.m.

Winston Peters

Winston Peters

Never far from controversy, Winston Peters' career in politics could never be called dull.

Background

Winston was born on April 11, 1945, in Whangarei. His father was Maori and his mother, Scottish. Two of his brothers – Ian and Jim – have also been MPs, and a third, Ron, stood as a NZ First candidate but failed to enter Parliament.

He went to Whangarei Boys' and Dargaville High, and graduated from Auckland University with qualifications in arts and law.

He worked as a teacher and later, a barrister, before entering politics in the mid 1970s.

Career in politics:

In 1975 Winston unsuccessfully stood for National in the Northern Maori electorate (now known as Te Tai Tokerau, and held by Mana's Hone Harawira).

He entered Parliament in 1978 after winning the seat of Hunua – but not without controversy. Labour's Malcolm Douglas (brother of Roger) had the most votes on election night, but in May 1979, the High Court awarded the seat to Winston, saying 500 votes for Mr Douglas shouldn't have been counted, giving the seat to Winston by 192 votes. He lost the seat in 1981, but in 1984 re-entered Parliament representing Tauranga.

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

Winston resigned, forcing a by-election which he won with over 90 percent of the vote (second place went to the candidate for joke party McGillicuddy Serious, as neither Labour nor National stood a candidate). He went on to form New Zealand First, and keep the Tauranga electorate until 2005.

For a short period in the late 1990s Winston was Deputy Prime Minister, until sacked by Jenny Shipley after she rolled Jim Bolger.

His party lost ground in 1999, dropping to 4.3 percent of the vote and only staying in Parliament after Winston won the Tauranga seat by only 63 votes. They bounced back in 2002, winning 13 seats, but was shut out of power by Helen Clark's government, who were able to form a majority without them.

After the closely-run 2005 election, Winston was awarded the foreign affairs portfolio, which many found strange considering his outspoken views against immigration.

In 2008 Winston lost his Tauranga seat to National's Simon Bridges by over 11,000 votes, and with it, his party's spot in Parliament.

Notable actions:

Served as Deputy Prime Minister, 1996-1998

Has lead the NZ First party since its inception in 1993

Introduction of the SuperGold Card

'What you might not know:

Winston is a former captain of Auckland Maoris Rugby team.

Quote:

"We have now reached the point where you can wander down Queen Street in Auckland and wonder if you are still in New Zealand or some other country."

Gaffes and blunders:

Repeatedly denied asking for and receiving a donation from ex-pat billionaire Owen Glenn, even brandishing a sign bearing the word "NO" at a press conference. Glenn maintains he did give Winston $100,000, and that the NZ First leader even thanked him for it.

The sign later sold at a charity auction for $10,600.

In a sentence:

Winston Peters is a slick political salesman and loved by the elderly, but his latest attempt at a comeback will probably be his last – but if he succeeds, expect the next three years in Parliament to be a lot more interesting and unpredictable than if he fails.

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