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Winston Peters: The Real State Of The Nation

Rt Hon Winston Peters
New Zealand First Leader

Friday 21 February, 1.30pm
AMI Netball Stadium, Northcote Rd, Takapuna, Auckland.

The Real State Of The Nation

It is part of the character of New Zealanders to be positive.

Positive about the country we live in, the climate, the abundance of natural resources, the vast maritime zone, and the fact we live in a democracy.

It is part of the character of New Zealanders to enjoy a rich legacy of culture, values and institutions and many of these derive from British, Māori and other societies.

It’s in our character to be positive about the success of individual New Zealanders, and we have the reputation for initiative, enterprise and basic friendliness.

This character quickly built every modern institution, in a country the size of the UK, but with the population of Manchester.

So it’s in our character to know what we are capable of achieving.

Part of introspection is realism and a willingness to admit we are not doing as well as we once did.

We want again to be a proud nation, small, yet standing tall among others.

We want again to be world leaders in our economy, labour laws, early childcare, education, our environment and our commitment to a fair go and equal opportunity.

When leaders talk about vision they frequently overlook that much of what we still have left today came from a former great vision – a vision we lived.

For the last thirty years our country has been run like a trading company with little leadership and even less vision.

New Zealand has become a business with deals to be done, assets to be sold, and the cost of labour to be reduced.

That stands in contrast to what we once were.

A third of New Zealand voters have no memory of the great country we once were.

All they’ve known is a persistent, malignant, economic experiment that after thirty years keeps telling them that if only we tweak a few policies, all will become right.

It won’t.

And there are five main reasons why not:

1. The economic prescription is wrong.
2. Unfocussed immigration policies.
3. Government assisted programmes of tribalism.
4. A tsunami of health problems.
5. A lack of leadership and inspiration.


You will hear this year countless apologists for our economy and the economic prescription followed for three decades.

However, if this is really working why would the current crop of politicians have sold offshore so much of New Zealand’s wealth built up by the people of this country in the hundred years before this new bunch came to power.

This sell off is an unstated admission of on-going failure.

There are great models of economic success and Norway and Singapore are just two.

These countries have maximised their export wealth creation, which we once did.

They are ‘rock star’ economies – ours is not.


With immigration, few of the former objectives are present today.

Previously, immigration filled skills gaps in employment, education, science, medicine and industry.

We bought in young men and women, young families who would reinvigorate our population and make a lifetime of contribution to our economy.

They never embarked from offshore without first having a job and a house to live in.

This policy resulted in a second generation proud to call themselves Kiwis.

For the past three decades New Zealand governments have adopted policies of open door immigration.

Over the past five years the New Zealand population has had a turnover of twelve per cent.

In total half a million people have moved into and out of New Zealand. That is a staggering figure for a small country.

New Zealand has gone from a nation of united people to an urban collection of communities, many clinging to where they were, rather than where they are now.

We have the Chinese community, the Pacific Islands community, the Sri Lankans, the Indians - the list is endless. All hyphenated New Zealanders.

Now let’s be clear. A great number of these people have been enormous contributors to New Zealand’s economic and social life, but there has been a huge cost in infrastructural, educational, health and governmental demands.

All of these costs are being overlooked in an attempt to tell you that if only we increase our population, economic boom times will come.

Well we’ve done that for the last 30 years, so where is the boom?

We are all proud of our heritage – we all come from somewhere else, even the Māori, but when we are here we should be New Zealanders.

It’s as simple as this. Our last census had boxes for virtually every race on earth. Except one. There was no box for you to tick that you are a New Zealander.

There are more than 75 languages catered for by the Auckland health board.

Now, there are three official languages for New Zealand – English, Maori and New Zealand Sign Language.

When people come to New Zealand, New Zealand First says they should fit in and contribute to our laws, our values, our culture, language and traditions.

That doesn’t mean abandoning identity. The Irish, Scots, Welsh, Dalmatians never did, nor did the Dutch, but if you look at our successful immigration programmes in the past, they were based on the critical things that people need – a house, health, education and skills, jobs and first world wages.

Sadly, New Zealand is losing many of its young, trained workers and replacing them often with untrained, unskilled immigrants.

The very people who say today that we’ve got a population aging problem, by some intellectual gymnastics defend the policy that allows more than forty per cent of immigrants to New Zealand from one country to be over 50 years of age.

This policy is economic lunacy.

Which New Zealand prime minister in the hundred years prior to 1984 would have tolerated this?

One of the disastrous consequences from this policy now sees hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders in Australia being treated as second class citizens.

And when you hear politicians and commentators complaining about it, please ask them – what did you do, before or after 2001, to prevent this happening?

No doubt they will cough and splutter and move on to a different subject.

And whilst we are at it, why is the Government issuing tens of thousands of work permits to foreigners when New Zealanders can’t get jobs?

Last year, just one example, endlessly repeated, the Government issued 49 essential work visas to foreigners to be checkout operators!

There is the old Greek saying – ‘those the gods would destroy, they first make mad’.

These unfocussed immigration policies and handing out of work visas like an eight-armed octopus happen because it means a flow of cheap labour that drags down wages and conditions.

Ladies and gentlemen, the next government must make serious changes to immigration.

The next government must focus on people we need, not people who need us.

Economics, like charity, begins at home.


The third major threat to our economic advancement and nationhood is government sponsored programmes to revive pre-European tribalism – as an alternative to democracy.

New Zealand was once a unique place, a blend of two cultures created a vibrant nation. The colonisers were not perfect. Many injustices were done to Maori.

But compared to other colonisers, the British were comparatively benign – thanks to the early involvement of the Church Missionary Society.

Later, Maori and non-Maori fought side by side overseas.

The Maori did not fight for Nga Puhi or Ngati Porou – they fought and died under the New Zealand flag – just like fellow soldiers alongside them.

Many Maori have made a huge contribution at every level of society and the workplace in this country.

But the so-called economic reformers of the past 30 years dismantled the industries and state enterprises that were the economic life blood of Maori.

Freezing works closed, the Ministry of Works, Forest Service, Government Print and so many others.

When the Forestry Service was privatised, thousands of jobs were lost and 80 per cent of those jobs had been held by Māori.

Heartland New Zealand had the heart ripped out.

Tens of thousands of Maori were thrown on the industrial scrap heap.

Along with unemployment came the twin curses of alcohol and drugs which are creating mayhem among Maori.

Some Maori leaders understand what is happening and work towards a solution but others take advantage of the situation to exploit division.

Along with the new age economics of selling everything and bringing in more immigrants, a new political arrangement was entered into.

This is the politics of appeasement to radical Māori demands.

Governments learned quickly that they could ignore real problems faced by ordinary Māori if they appeased certain so-called Maori leaders.

And it is not new.

After the communists took over Russia a century ago they appointed political commissars to all military and industrial units.

These commissars policed all activity on behalf of the communist party.

No matter what happened – no matter how many casualties – the communist party was never wrong.

New Zealand governments have faithfully followed a similar policy, where the Treaty of Waitangi grievance industry is concerned - the Treaty travellers are never wrong.

If you look closely you will see a steady stream of commissars appointed to police the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi.

Appointed everywhere – local government, central government, the various agencies and institutions of state.

Tribes with self-appointed leaders are being allocated major taxpayer funding to disperse within their iwi – without any auditing and beyond any genuine public accountability.

And the Māori at the bottom in whose name and numbers all these demands are made are getting exactly nothing.

Auckland City example

Next Friday submissions on the Draft Auckland Unitary Plan will close. This plan has some alarming contents.

Nineteen iwi will have unbridled power to claim rights to any piece of land in Auckland that they deem special to them under the plan.

This will be another giant step towards racial separation in this country and dominance by a few in Auckland for their own monetary gain.

These iwi will dictate to the Auckland Council. They can invent all manner of things to lay claim to a significant place. Under the plan it is enough for them to say ‘we want that site’, they do not have to reveal the reason why.

Your council has rolled over to heavy-handed iwi who are about to grasp ultimate power over the property rights of Aucklanders.

Remember, they are operating under an Act that this Government passed.

It is a massive transfer of property to a select few and a separation of New Zealand into Māori and others.

Sure, restore Maori traditional rights and obligations– that is only fair – and that is what the Treaty of Waitangi claims are doing through the proper arena.

However, council plans open the door for iwi to take rights that go way beyond anything we have seen before and will jeopardise property ownership and transactions for untold Kiwis.

Again, this is not new.

In the 1990s in South Australia there was a huge controversy surrounding the proposed Hindmarsh Bridge involving a clash of indigenous Australian beliefs and property rights.

In 1994 a group of Ngarrindjeri women elders claimed the site was so sacred to them the reasons could not be revealed.

The case was controversial because it intersected with broader concerns about indigenous rights in Australia and the Mabo and Wik cases regarding native title.

‘Secret women’s business’ as the claim became known, evoked an intense legal battle. Some Ngarrindjeri women came forward to dispute the veracity of the claims and a Royal Commission found that the ‘secret women’s business’ claims had been fabricated.

There has already been an equivalent example before the Auckland Council’s Transport Committee in June 2011 when a Māori Statutory Board Member asked the committee “what’s been done about the Taniwha Horotiu who lives just outside here, and that tunnel will be going right through his rohe?’

Ladies and gentlemen this is not a laughing matter.

It points to future Auckland Council decisions that will involve issues so precious they cannot be revealed to the public.

And the question you’ve got to ask is, where on earth did the legal and political authority for this come from?

Democratic institutions are being blended with tribal appointments.

Tribalism is incompatible within a modern democracy. You only have to look at the tribal wars in the Middle East and other hotspots like Afghanistan to see why.

And again major concessions are being made behind closed doors over the foreshore and seabed without any public input.

Customary title – a form of ownership, is replacing Crown or public ownership.

The first step in this underhand process was for this Government to pass a law saying nobody owned the foreshore and seabed – but certain iwi could, under a process that does not see the light of day or proper legal rules.

Both Maori and non-Maori will miss out with customary title.

It is simply, over time, a massive transfer of property and wealth to a select few.

Ladies and gentlemen, Parliament has to stop the politics of appeasement.

How can Maori go forwards when many of their leaders keep telling them to go backwards?
At the same time we must address the real problems faced by Maori over employment, education, health and housing on the basis of need.

This has to be a pan Maori approach that covers all Maori.

It cannot be done through tribal favours.

If you want apartheid and tribalism – you should vote for the other parties – not New Zealand First.


The fourth issue is a tsunami of health problems at our door.

Our country is heading down a way one street to imminent disaster and the Government is doing nothing to prevent it.

According to Chris Baty (Diabetes New Zealand National President 2012), 400,000 New Zealanders will have diabetes in less than a decade which will cost billions in annual healthcare costs.

Between $5,000 - $13,000 is spent every year on care for each diabetic patient and for every diabetic probably two more people had pre-diabetes.

Many of our Māori and Pacific Island children are obese and all too many adolescents are pre-diabetic, ensuring the numbers will increase over the years.

Even Māori, Pacific Island and European teenagers are being diagnosed today with what used to be considered a ‘mature age onset’ disease, and it’s alarming.

The emergence of a New Zealand diabetes epidemic has been discussed for more than ten years but no action has been taken.

If we don’t urgently apply policies of prevention we soon will find the economic costs, of not doing so, unbearable.

Leadership and inspiration

The fifth issue standing in our way back to vibrant nationhood is lack of political leadership.

Ordinary people trying to get on with their lives are outraged with Parliament.

For several days this year politicians argued, not about what matters – the future of their country - but about the designer jacket worn by the Greens co-leader.

Then there was some waffle about whether the Prime Minister was a shape shifting reptile.

The Prime Minister started a debate about our flag – forgetting that he had already changed it to a FOR SALE flag like the ones used by Auckland real estate agents.

If you keep chanting ‘economic rock star’ some people will start to believe it – until they actually try to feed and clothe their families.

This is a big hoax. This is 1984 stuff aimed at the collective consciousness.

The Prime Minister will claim that we’re doing better than Australia. Really?

So our young are going to Australia because Australia is worse?

Future Vision

If you look at successful nations they have some things in common.

1. They have an economic prescription which does work and has done for decades.
2. They have focused and controlled immigration policies.
3. They favour policies of unity, not separatism.
4. They have health policies to safeguard their human capital.
5. And across the political divide, they have inspired leadership.

The result is that they offer their people real hope and the certainty that with effort,tomorrow will be better.

New Zealand once had this and we can have it again.

As politicians we must show we are committed to our nation and our people.

We must see patriotism in more than just our sporting stadiums.

We must see the same patriotism in Parliament towards New Zealanders.

You know that this Government looks after foreign companies better than it looks after Kiwi firms.

Local firms miss out on government contracts.

Dionne Warwick sang ‘trains and boats and planes are passing by. They mean a trip to Paris or Rome for someone else, but not for me’.

Well, we have a modern version of that song.

Our government, in buying trains and boats and planes means money and jobs for other countries, not for us.

Because they are all being built offshore in China, Bangladesh and Kansas USA.

Our third largest export, timber, leaves this country in its most raw unprocessed state for billions of profits and hundreds of thousands of jobs offshore.

We need to take a hard look at ourselves and the first place to look should be at Parliament – the MPs who are supposed to be protectors of our people and guardians of our resources.

It’s time for a big change in the way our governments serve New Zealanders and we in New Zealand First will insist on this when we are in a position to do so.

On rumours of coalitions

Recent surveys demonstrate that a great majority of New Zealanders, and even 35 per cent of National voters, don’t like sordid pre-election deals.

Nor do we.

We are months away from an election, with many policies yet to be revealed.

Later this year New Zealand First will celebrate our 21st anniversary.

In 21 years we’ve made democratic decisions as a caucus and as a party.

Speaking plainly, we don’t know how to play cards we haven’t been dealt yet.

But one thing you can be sure of, after the election we will speak with and consult our supporters.

Ladies and gentlemen, every election is critical. But this election more so than any in our lifetime.

We either do nothing and face the prospect of staggering along.

Or we can be bold, positive, with the prescription to recover our position of former glory as the world’s number one economic and social success story.

We had vision once, and we can live that vision again.

Leaders must trust the people – and the people must demand service in return.

That is the only path we can follow back to nationhood.

Clearly, change in New Zealand will not start from the top down. It will start from the bottom up.

That is why I’m asking you to do all you possibly can in the next few months to persuade people to our cause and to convince them to vote.

Then, we will be again, deservedly, a rock star country.


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