16 Jul 2017

Peters promises referendum on Māori seats

8:31 pm on 16 July 2017

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters has warned the country is on the verge of an economic and social nightmare because of government neglect.

Winston Peters giving his keynote address at the New Zealand First conference in Auckland.

Winston Peters giving his keynote address at the New Zealand First conference in Auckland. Photo: RNZ / Benedict Collins

Mr Peters used his election convention speech in Auckland this afternoon to attack the government's record on housing, immigration and foreign ownership.

Mr Peters told more than 500 party members and supporters that if elected, New Zealand First would "drastically reduce" immigration from 70,000 a year to 10,000 - a level that he said was sensible and sustainable.

Mr Peters also said that if New Zealand First was part of the next government, he would let the public to decide whether to abolish Māori seats and cut the number of MPs in Parliament to 100.

He said Māori seats send a terrible message and vowed to hold a mid-term binding referendum on the two matters.

"The fact is that Māori don't need to be told that they're not good enough to be equal, or that somehow they should be handicapped or somehow they should be pigeon-holed," Mr Peters said.

"When did you ever hear Buck Shelford say don't tackle me too hard I'm a Māori, or all those women playing in our netball team or any other team, when have you ever heard them say don't hit me too hard I'm a Māori?

"Māori don't need the Māori seats - they don't need any more tokenism."

Mr Peters said he expected New Zealand First would be attacked by other political parties for the plan - but said if they did they would be hypocrites.

The last time the public was asked if the number of politicians in Parliament should be cut, 82 percent of people agreed, Mr Peters said.

"Because they've known how long and [how] much time Parliament has spent in the last 30 years getting rid of New Zealand taxpayers' assets - flogging off our wealth".

Mr Peters estimated the referendum would cost $27 million.