6 Nov 2008

Still campaigning in Tauranga, says Peters

7:47 pm on 6 November 2008

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters denies he is abandoning his Tauranga electorate in favour of campaigning in the Rimutaka seat where the party's list MP Ron Mark is standing.

Mr Peters' decision to leave Tauranga on Wednesday on an unscheduled trip to Upper Hutt raised questions about whether he had given up hope of winning in Tauranga.

Speaking in the Rimutaka electorate on Thursday 6 November Mr Peters said reports that he had given up on Tauranga were "humbug".

"I can, obviously, read a weather forecast and its forecast to rain there today and that's one of the reasons I'm down here where its fine.

"Looking at this place, well we can do more here today than in a wet Tauranga, its raining, you can't have a rally outside."

Mr Peters also rejected polls that suggest New Zealand First will not reach 5% of party votes needed to get into Parliament without winning an electorate.

A recent One News poll put the National Party's Tauranga candidate Simon Bridges 26 percentage points ahead of Mr Peters.

As he campaigned in Upper Hutt, Winston Peters stopped to talk to a group of teenagers, telling those under the age of 18 he would be around at the next election, when they would be old enough to vote for him.

New Zealand First list MP Ron Mark is confident of his chances in Rimutaka, saying people in the area are feeling neglected by Labour.

But Rimutaka's Labour candidate Chris Hipkins said his party is polling ahead of the National candidate, with New Zealand First a distant third.