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O Winston I love you

Written By: - Date published: 9:25 am, October 18th, 2020 - 50 comments
Categories: nz first, uncategorized, winston peters - Tags:

Winston you were my man when your dark brown wavy hair and beatific smile rose to glory within National when National needed to prove again that Maori could rise to elected respectability within even the most tilted of social structures. You were partnership material at Russel McVeigh like no Maori before you. Women secretly swooned for you. You were like George Hamilton III had emerged fully formed as a perfect symbol of bicultural New Zealand before the term was even invented.

You were the highest of one of those few loyal and deeply patriotic families of New Zealand who felt that serving both the law and as a Member of Parliament was the essence of honour and of being a patriot for your country. Like serving in law and in parliament was the kind of patriotism we used to feel from our military. But you rose even higher, and for longer, than your brothers.

Winston you were my man because straight after graduation you stood up for your people the Ngati Wai successfully against Labour’s attempt to take land for coastal reserves – giving inspiration to Dame Whina Cooper and the great Land March. You rose to fight, and won, and you did so for your people.

Winston I love you because you were the one who in defeating Malcolm Douglas in Hunua in 1978, ensured that there was no succession plan for Roger Douglas his brother. Labour would crest and crack in the late 1980s, but it would never recover its foolish Rogernomics ways without a broader core of support.

Winston I love you for loving our country as much as your namesake loved his. Rising under the nationalist economics of Birch and Muldoon in the face of global crisis, you understood the deep and permanent reliance of New Zealand business on a very strong state which needed large subsidies for production sustained by taxing wealth highly. It always has and always will. Back – though few now remember it – when state-enforced egalitarianism through tax was an actuality, not running like a dog hiding under the political bed from thunder.

You kept alive that memory of the state working to develop the weakest with real and believable enterprise for five decades of public service in Parliament, until you could truly bring it out once more in its strong form of the Provincial Growth Fund. Maybe it will take us a decade to understand its impact, but you back yourself enough to know that it will be good.

Winston I love you because you were the one who really first sank the shank into the Lange-Douglas regime through ripping open the corruption of the Maori Loan Affair in 1986. In December 1986 you completely sideswiped that government with revelations that the Department of Maori Affairs had sought to raise hundreds of millions of dollars from a fraudster. As Labour ex-Minister and eminent political historian Michael Bassett commented: “Several ministers would agree in later years, that it was about the time of the Maori loans affair that cabinet solidarity began to fall apart.” The following Commission of Inquiry fully vindicated you, and set your course to prepare the full reform how Maori were engaged by the Crown as a Department. You saw the infection of fraudulent international capital for what it was, when most in government and in the financial sector were bedazzled by it.

You would describe players like John Key  as “apologists for crooks“. You would name those crooks like few would have the courage to do so.

Winston you were my man who loved the law. Not the law as a set of enforcement measures that gets changed according to policy whim. No: law as the very warp and weft of our social order which has grown thread by thread since 1840 andas the utter substance of the operation and constitution of New Zealand as a nation. You who went by the law, saturated your mind and cloth in the law, recognised the primacy of the law, you fought for all to be held to that sacred framework of common accountability – like no one else had before. Because without all being subservient to the law, we would remain a colony and Maori forever colonised.

Winston, I loved you for being the regulator we always should have had. Your scorching of the Serious Fraud Office and Inland Revenue Department through the Winebox inquiry was a first. You appeared to fear no one – neither government departments, nor our richest citizens. The Commission that followed was weak. And those who could like you draw the inter-party webs (such as Brian Easton and Bruce Jesson), knew precisely how deeply the money men had taken over our country in the late 1980s from the true nationbuilders who had grown through the 1930s, to the 1970s.

Winston I loved you because you smashed the white barrier of the whitest in the Tauranga electorate, being elected in a general seat as very few Maori had before. Even in 2020, there are very, very few who can do that in the Labour Party. That Tauranga victory rebuilt our national confidence that biculturalism really was possible, so soon after the joyous patriotism of our 1990 sesquicentennial.

You really were a symbol of something about us all.

Winston I love you because you raged against the sale of our long term wealth, and you were prepared to politically die for it. Has any other politician in our history done this as much or with as much cost? When National agreed to the sale of Wellington Airport, you said this was why you were quitting, and you did so. And now, nearly four decades later, cities who sold off their airport shares like Auckland and Wellington are bereft of funding, unable to support even the barest of essential services, precisely because corporatisation and privatisation of our assets stripped them of their income. You raged against the sale of Silver Fern Farms when few others would. You raged against the sale of the national electricity generators. You raged against what Brian Easton called The Commercialisation of New Zealand. You were a shining knight against the forces who weakened the power of the state to have the income to keep us all going. If you had won more of your battles, New Zealand would be strong like Australia is now, not a weak state with low ambition, low savings, and a hollowed out business sector craven to foreign capital.

Winston few loved you like I did. You were stabbed deeply and often by National. No other politician would have survived what they did to you. For daring to side with Labour in 2017, someone at a very high level in National leaked your superannuation details. Because you were unable to prove your case in court, you were clearly in the right to all but the law and fined hundreds of thousands of dollars. Every other single other politician in parliament this century would have been laid waste and fired and bankrupted from that. But you dared continue. For daring to hold those treacherous villains to account, and losing, and continuing bloodied but unbowed, I loved you still.

Winston, I love you for smoking cigars, drinking whiskey, and having good taste in tailored six-button suits. Damn them all.

Winston I loved you for being the walking counterfactual history of a dignified and strong nation who could take care of itself. If you had been born 2,000 years ago you would be Belisarius. You’d be at the Rhine against the hordes, whether the Rhine froze or not.

Winston I love you still. You love this country, you love its people. That’s enough for me.

50 comments on “O Winston I love you ”

  1. Martin 1

    I for one won't miss this dinosaur at all. We don't need bullies in govt.

    • greywarshark 1.1

      Sometimes you have to bully to get things done in government – that need to be done. Balance is what is needed, and wisdom – the experience, the maturity, the vision for better for people and the land, to know when to bully and when to defer, change, improve some policy idea. Your comment Martin is naive and wet.

  2. Ovid 2

    I’d really like Winston to write a memoir. I bet with 40 years in politics he’s got some stories to tell.

  3. Treetop 3

    Peters got it right in 2017 when he formed a coalition with Labour. Had this not have happened I dread to think the shape which the country would now be in.

    Peter's needs to be his best friend now and to look back on his political achievement spanning 4 decades with pride.

    • cathy-o 3.1

      totally irrelevant to this thread, but how can you possibly put an apostrophe in the middle of someone’s name ?

      apostrophes have two purposes only

      1 to indicate possession – fred’s widget

      2 to indicate missed out letters – wasn’t

      that’s all. (that is all)

      sorry to be a pedant but ….

      and yes, Winston has been our most entertaining politician by far, i will miss him

  4. Rupert Watson 4

    Thanks for a fine political eulogy. I love the reference to Belisarius. Spot on.

  5. Foreign waka 5

    He will be missed indeed as he was known of not being afraid to call out when something did not make legal sense and he also recognized that the average old person needed assistance not euthanasia.

  6. dv 6

    Sir Winnie

  7. Stuart Munro 7

    I wonder if he could be sent to bedevil Trump…

    • dv 7.1

      HA

      Sir WINNIE US ambassador

      • Stuart Munro 7.1.1

        I think he'd be too polite. But it would be good to see him go after Trump the way he's gone after local ne'erdowells.

        • greywarshark 7.1.1.1

          Let him choose – Trump and Bedlam or some time with his horses and encouraging the racing industry, with some possible work for the government when they need someone to sum up a situation.

    • George 7.2

      Trump wouldn't actually know he was being bedevilled. He would tweet about "the fellow from NZ who thinks he's just tremendous…"

  8. Rosalene Bradbury 8

    Time to make Winston Ambassador to CHINA.

    Winston was a great foreign minister. He will be a fantastic ambassador. I know the part about Winston being a great foreign minister how? Because that most diplomatic of corps, the NZ Ministry of Foreign Affairs, by the merest of facial expressions lets it be known who they do and don’t accept as foreign minister. And they had Winston back.

    Winston would be an excellent ambassador to China. His whole life has prepared him for the role.

  9. AB 9

    Very well said – and why on the whole I found myself cheering for Winston more often that gritting my teeth and wanting him to eff off. His particular ability to get under the Nats' skin was unmatched.

  10. SPC 10

    In death many of scandals are damned with praise.

    I presume you are hoping to encourage him on his journey from political life with such exuberant politeness.

    Arise Sir and begone, begone I say.

  11. swordfish 11

    .
    First time I ever saw one Winston Raymond Peters was in National's 1978 Election Campaign ads … he pretended to be a neutral journalist interviewing Muldoon … and at the end turned to the camera, as if an objective observer who had clearly just been thoroughly convinced by Rob's answers & looking straight down the barrel at viewers concluded: "So you see, it's true ! National really is keeping its Word !" … immediately followed by the Campaign song: "It's time you hear-er-er-erd, We're Keeping our Wor-or-or-ord, It's time you heard. we're keeping our Word … (pause for added gravitas) … We're keeping our Word" (final 4 words sung like a highly emotional ballad in a particularly idealistic way with clear hippie overtones … incongruous for a Party dominated by Rob's Mob, I would've thought).

    We did laugh somewhat sarcastically at the contrived set-up at the time … while simultaneously noting Winston as a potentially significant New Kid on the Block (& a Muldoon Favourite to boot)

    • swordfish 11.1

      Interesting / Surprising that, back in the early-mid 80s, Colin James had Winston down as one of National's Drys (in the Ruth Richardson Camp).

      • millsy 11.1.1

        He did sell 100% of the Crown's shareholding in Contact Energy in 1998 (when he didn't have to).

  12. left_forward 12

    Kia ora … thank you for your mihi to Wynston.

  13. millsy 13

    With Winston goes the last pre-Rogernomics link in the NZ Parliament.

    It really is the end of an era.

    • SPC 13.1

      Winston, a former Prime Minister, leaves through one door and the only politician around longer sleepwalks through another into the Oval Office.

  14. observer 14

    His decision in 2017 saved lives. He should be thanked and remembered for that. It's his greatest legacy.

    The rest of his career achieved little of note. Rhetoric is not results. Being "colourful" or a "character" or any of those descriptions commonly heard over the decades … means nothing. He was in Parliament/government to serve the public, not to provide entertainment for reporters.

    Yes, there were all kinds of episodes that made headlines. But what laws did he shepherd through Parliament? What lasting change did he bring about? He was the ultimate "Not" politician, so the lasting image of him holding the "No" sign is ironically apposite. He opposed. But did not create.

    • rawsharkyeshe 14.1

      Cab you spell GOLDCARD ? Simply but one of his innovations. And can you spell WINEBOX ?

      I am so grateful for his presence in our lives.

      • observer 14.1.1

        Reaching for glorified supermarket vouchers as a legacy of 3+ decades really does illustrate my point.

        • rawsharkyeshe 14.1.1.1

          Clearly, I have a different wattage lamp to illustrate his career and benefits to us.

          • greywarshark 14.1.1.1.1

            Who benefits from the Goldcard – I know that one! If he could have brought it in so that all bennies benefited from it, that would have made him great, we would all have been greatfull then.

            I am grateful for the Gold Card myself but I think back to being younger, poor and honest and striving and if Winnie had won with a bennies gold card that alone would have deserved a knighthood for having cut through the thick contempt that burdens welfare delivery to parents and young people.

  15. RedBaronCV 15

    Well I've never voted for him but very grateful for a lot of his actions over the years.

    Going with Labour in 2017 kept a lot of us alive, the wine box of the 1990's outed a lot of upper level financial wrongdoing that the right have still not forgiven or forgotten – hence the regular attempts to take him out of play.

    The political mastery and humour of the "Great Ferry bottom grounding incident" that he hounded Richard Prebble so successfully about. The great sound bites that usually cut to the heart of the issue. Everybody leaked to Winston – who will take his place for this?

    Lets hope he has a job now worthy of his talents, ambassador or governor general? and time to go fishing.

  16. Patricia Bremner 16

    Winston has always been for NZ, and like all of us he has faults, but I will always value the wine box work, the gold card and his choosing Labour last election.

  17. Shanreagh 17

    Winston I love the fact that having worked in parliament when you were a Minister I know that you were a good boss to your staff. (Some Ministers are not)

    I know this because your staff told me you were. I know this because the spouse of one of your staff told me after she had rung you to talk to you directly about one of your forays into the seedy world behind politics.

    Winston I love you for the fantastic jokes & stories you told at Thursday drinks, one of which I still tell.

    Winston I love you for when you were so good to my bro in law one time having a meal in the staff cafeteria, when he could not restrain himself and leapt up to shake your hand which had a tray in it at the time…..nothing happened to the tray but you quickly made him welcome.

    Winston I love you for coming from a family with manners and having a brother, Wayne, also an MP for a time, who often walked me down to catch the bus home after drinkies, one day a week.

    Winston I love the fact that you have a command of the verbal and written word. And for not being afraid to speak or write.

    Winston I love the fact, as pointed out by Advantage, that you pursued the appalling breach of privacy by low flying turds that saw details of your superannuation leaked. I am ever hopeful that one day we will know exactly who this was and be able to gaze on the leaker and say 'well you at least have no honour, scruples or honesty unlike the person you aimed to hurt'.

    Winston I love the contribution you have made to the political scene over the years.

  18. McFlock 18

    Never voted for him, always liked him.

    Although he's come back from the electorally-dead before, lol

  19. Byd0nz 19

    The wine box thingy, his only saving grace.

  20. sumsuch 20

    I suppose him fighting every interviewer and his strange step work made me sigh at the mention of his name. But my rationalism has confined me to very little influence in government. And he was half Scots, for better or worse. After him, mental cases in the populist space. 2.5 % voted for conspiracy theories. Glad my BAC relatives are in the severe minority.

  21. Marcus Morris 21

    Thanks RSE – you beat me to the "draw". I am a rural dweller but love using the Gold Card when I use public transport in the cities. I have a feeling too that the people of Tauranga have Winston to thank for their second harbour bridge. The country shunned his superannuation proposal in the late nineties but I think that Kiwi Saver was actually quite similar without being compulsory. I have cheered for him and been exasperated by him and I will be eternally grateful to him for going with Jacinda in 2017. A transformational move.

  22. greywarshark 22

    I thought some quotes would be interesting. Winston has been a bright and sometimes sharp star in our firmament.

    This from Labour: "Winston Peters is the blow fly of New Zealand politics."- Deputy Prime Minister Michael Cullen on the propensity of Mr Peters to wallow in political refuse.

    From Winston – "Smart alec, arrogant, quiche eating, chardonnay drinking, pinky finger pointing snobbery, fart blossom." – Peters on big city media commentators in 2002.

    "That will be a public relations feat! After they have finished they will then portray Osama Bin Laden as tolerant, the Chappell brothers as good sports and the Pope as Jewish." – On ACT intentions to portray leader Richard Prebble as compassionate.
    https://www.theage.com.au/world/winston-peters-memorable-quotes-20051018-ge12mh.html
    .

    "Excuse me for laughing, but it's been a long time since I've been ravaged by a toothless sheep." – Winston Peters on Gareth Morgan.

    “For overseas observers, in NZ elections, we all vote then take the ballots—chuck them out—and ask a man called Winston Peters who won.” – Writer Ali Ikram tweeting about the 2017 election.
    https://www.thehits.co.nz/the-latest/these-are-the-finalists-for-new-zealands-quote-of-the-year-vote-for-your-favourite/
    .

    And finally Winston and his media relations are included in this excellent item which is a send-up of how pollies can hold their own against these pesky persons. Winston's use of the 'Headbutt' is so exemplary, he is described as the Master. (The link below gives audio and written content.)

    In this example, Mr. Peters utilises it in a particularly adroit fashion, suggesting that his question is more interesting than the interviewer’s. He is being interviewed about the decision of David Bradshaw, the head of the serious fraud office, not to prosecute those involved in the Winebox transactions.

    When he started the investigation, he did say that he didn’t shirk from prosecution if he found the evidence. Why would he be doing that?

    I’m not interested in what he said. I’m interested in this fact: that if he cannot, as they couldn’t in the past, find evidence in this matter, then they should be removed from their job and someone competent and able to understand the issues be given the job….

    Summary to the item: This is an aural instruction manual for incoming politicians giving guidance on how to answer those tricky questions from the media when you’d rather not. Using examples from the masters, including Sir Keith Holyoake, Sir Robert Muldoon, Winston Peters, Helen Clark and Jenny Shipley, the guide offers advice about giving earnest, fulsome and convincing replies without actually answering the questions. The Guide takes us through the Seven Strategies of Successful Subject-Shifting, including Answering a Slightly Different Question, the "Let-Me-Just-Say-This" Manoeuvre, Attacking the Critic and the Amazing Shipley One-Size-Fits-All Multi-Purpose Response.

    https://www.ngataonga.org.nz/collections/catalogue/catalogue-item?record_id=303644

    Commenters on Radionz have said that Labour has about 20? new pollies coming on board and what a job it will be to orientate them. They might like to listen to the masters and mistresses of the political comment, as part of losing their naivety and gaucheness?

  23. Phillip ure 23

    While I recoil from the nativist bullshit he peddled…he gets my respect for being the first to stop/roll-back the rogernomics fuck-the-poor/weakest policies…with his coalition condition being bringing back free healthcare for children…I was a sole-parent raising my son at the time…I remember it well…and more recently of course..in 2017 he opened the door for ardern/labour…it would be somewhat churlish to ignore/forget that..

  24. lprent 24

    I think this post requires a reprise.

    A tribute to the number of times he has arisen from the ashes of his political career.

    This time could very well be the the final time.

  25. Hunter Thompson II 25

    Years ago I heard the live broadcast of the Parliamentary debate in which WP alleged the head of the Serious Fraud Office couldn't investigate his way out of a wet paper bag, there had been a big cover up, tax dodging etc.

    And so the Winebox Affair kicked off …

    Great spectator sport. And in those days we had real investigative journos too, so NBR's Warren Berryman was right onto it.

  26. Chris T 26

    Might have been mentioned and I have missed it, but do we know if the Profential Growth Fund is still ok with Labour, or has it dies a death?

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