31 Jul 2015

NZ First looks to grow party membership

7:22 am on 31 July 2015

New Zealand First must its increase membership and strengthen its war chest if the party is to fulfil its potential, leader Winston Peters says.

Winston Peters makes his victory speech at the Duke of Marlborough Hotel in Russell.

Winston Peters making his victory speech following the Northland by-elecion win. Photo: Setford

Mr Peters said this weekend's party conference was no time for sitting back and celebrating its recent successes, which have seen it grow from 8 to 12 MPs.

It gained three MPs at the last election when as it increased its share of the vote to more than 8.5 percent, and another this year when Mr Peters crushed National's candidate in the Northland by-election.

"What the country is looking for is a party that has clearly got its feet on the ground - is a commonsense party, that's got a record of standing for things not just when they're convenient," said Mr Peters.

"And my appeal to the membership of New Zealand First is, if you only just realised how much more we could do by some strategic changes then it would be to the party's benefit but above all it would be to the country's benefit."

Mr Peters said New Zealand First needed more members and money too.

"We've campaigned well, we've had some brilliant election results but we need far greater mass membership in the new political environment and we also need the resources.

"We are not the beneficiaries of so much money that the other parties are getting so we have to raise it ourselves and that is an appeal to membership and supporters around the country - that is what our principal focus will be for this convention.

While they might not be officially celebrating, the New Zealand First MP Richard Prosser says he thinks the mood at the conference will be a positive one.

And he thinks party members will be keen to meet some of their new MPs.

"I think they're pretty excited about the direction that we're going in generally and they'll be looking forward to catching up on how the newer guys are settling in and what they think of it," Mr Prosser said.

Winston Peters will be giving his keynote address at the conference in Rotorua on Sunday afternoon.