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Peters Leaves Tauranga To Campaign In Rimutaka

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Winston Peters
Winston Peters

By Ian Llewellyn of NZPA

Auckland, Nov 6 NZPA - New Zealand First leader Winston Peters has put on hold his push to win back his old seat of Tauranga in a bid to build support in the Rimutaka seat.

He is visiting the Hutt Valley electorate to support his MP Ron Mark in a bid to take the electorate vacated by retiring Labour MP Paul Swain.

NZ First has always talked up its chances of Mr Mark taking the seat as it believes its law and order policy will appeal to the higher than average proportion of defence and prison staff in the area.

Some in the party had been hoping that Labour would tell its supporters to give their electorate vote to Mr Mark in order to give NZ First a life line into Parliament if it fails to reach the 5 percent party vote threshold.

Labour Party sources have told NZPA that this is not going to happen and they are backing former Beehive staffer Chris Hipkins to hold on to what is considered a safe Labour seat.

Without this sort of endorsement, Mr Mark is likely to poll a distant third.

Mr Peters' decision not to campaign in Tauranga today and only spend a few hours there tomorrow has raised eyebrows among some political observers, with some believing it indicates he has given up taking back the seat he lost in 2005 to National.

Polling in the electorate shows National candidate Simon Bridges is well ahead and nationwide polling shows NZ First is falling short of the 5 percent threshold.

Mr Peters has been the subject of numerous stories about his party's acceptance of donations from big business, a failure to declare them and the use of trusts and lawyers' accounts to disguise them.

Mr Peters has repeatedly said he is the victim of a conspiracy organised by his political opponents.

He is hoping that the police's decision not to lay charges for the party filing false donation declarations will lead to a last minute boost in support.

After campaigning in the Hutt Valley today, Mr Peters returns to Tauranga tomorrow morning before spending the last hours on the electoral trail in Auckland.

NZPA PAR il nb

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