Winston Peters: “Co-governance and Separatism” Speech

The following is a transcript of Rt Hon Winston Peters' speech in Tauranga from 25th September 2022.

“Co-governance and Separatism”

Good afternoon.  It’s great to be back in the Western Bay, and Tauranga in particular, which has had more than its fair share of publicity lately.

Thank you for coming out this afternoon in the numbers you have.

We are about a year away from the next General Election which is cause for serious contemplation as to the state of our country, a time for consideration as to how this has happened, a need for personal commitment to do something about it, and a willingness to accept our commission to set things right.

Almost 130 years ago Richard Seddon said that New Zealand is ‘God’s own country, but the Devil’s mess’.

We have made giant strides since then but for too much of New Zealand today, Seddon’s analysis is sadly still correct.

We live in an abundant country with resources the envy of many nations.

We have hitherto developed a democracy the envy of many peoples.

We had grown an economy to once be in the first three in the world.

We once shared our wealth to be the egalitarian world leader.

However, in recent decades, and particularly of late, we seem to have lost our way, and the gathering clouds on the horizon call for us to take stock of our economic and social circumstances.

Many international observers look at New Zealand and see huge economic potential but can’t understand why our economic performance does not reflect that.

Countries like Singapore whose only assets are their people remain bewildered as to how a country like ours is of late unable to adequately help all it’s people.

Singapore is of course a country that we, when a world economic leader, provided help to under our Columbo Plan and two battalions stationed there to assist with their security.

And then under wise leadership, and focus on people being a countries greatest asset, when trained and skilled to be, Singapore simply took their economy straight past us to become a world leader.

What happened to us? 

And shouldn’t this be a time for contemplation, reflection?

Perhaps it’s long since time to change the criteria by which we measure economic success. 

Time to understand that it’s ‘per person income growth’ not ‘Gross Domestic Product’ (GDP) that really matters.

A time to admit that ‘the median wage’ matters, alongside disposable incomes per household, and if these become our major concerns then we will be able to deal to inequality.

However, if we take the view that the only thing wrong with our country is the Government then we take the partisan pathway of a majority of New Zealanders, election after election, these last 40 years.

Try a new crowd because ‘they couldn’t be worse than the last one’. 

The ‘it’s our turn now’ chorus, without enough people asking ‘our turn to do what?’.

New Zealand in comparison to Australia has not been an economic success these last 40 years. 

The figures, the incomes, the comparative performance speaks for itself.

It explains why so many of our qualified, talented people are now heading offshore when our economy desperately needs them.

If we want high living standards, then we must reconstruct economic policies to achieve them.

It is therefore critical that in the next 12 months political parties are required to show how they are going to achieve, with real world examples that have worked, and not just a daily diatribe of more Greta Thunberg’s ‘blah, blah, blah’.

We need to see far more ‘cheerleaders for sound policy’ and fewer ‘jeerleaders for policy failure’.

That said, incredibly, something more sinister has arrived on our shores. 

Co-governance and Separatism.

Two covert objectives of the present Labour Government which they never campaigned on at the last election and have never asked you what you think.

A Government besotted by mandates ramming changes down New Zealanders’ throats for which they have no mandate. 

Spending hundreds of millions of taxpayer’s money on spin, virtue signalling and gaslighting to cower the population into submission. 

It’s their ‘TINA’ principle i.e. There Is No Alternative.

In this drive for separatism, history is being rewritten, laws are being reinterpreted and precedent is being jettisoned for racially jingoistic jargon that would shock Māori scholars of a former age.

We meet here today in a city that arose from the battle of Gate Pa.

In the city of Gate Pa the longest serving MPs in the last hundred years have a Māori background.

In 1980 a senior lawyer from Tauranga acting on behalf of local Iwi presented a petition to the National Government of Robert Muldoon.

The local Māori did not participate in the Waikato war but their lands were confiscated anyway.

Ed Morgan, a legal scholar from England, and survivor of Changi Prison, was seeking redress for clients who implicitly trusted him.

Before the Select Committee Ed Morgan repeated the famous words of a Māori leader speaking to Parliament almost 100 years earlier.

‘You sit here in the seat of Princes.  May you treat this matter in a Princely fashion’.

The Government didn’t. They gave the local Iwi $200,000. 

In Caucus one MP challenged that inequity. 

He asked how it was right that Government had just given Arthur Alan Thomas $1 million in compensation for his wrongful incarceration and yet only $200,000 to the local Iwi’s for wrongful alienation of 290,000 acres. And yet it was Muldoon who personally agreed to fund the first Māori language nests. In all the recent fifty-year celebrations of Māori language, when were you ever reminded of that?

Getting things right has always been a work in progress and there are countless examples of how our country has grown to achieve just that.

However, today there are processes being put in place by this government that are not based on fact, history, or sound law. 

They are based on separatism.

And unless we New Zealanders rise up to challenge this malignant development then our country will be unrecognisable and on a certain path to the third world with apartheid.

Of whom much has been given, much is expected.

Yet today, to put it most bluntly, we are being told that in our past, everything Māori was good, and everything white was bad.

That nothing good came from colonisation or modernisation.

That had we avoided either we would be living in Shangri La. 

In February 1840 Māori were practising slavery in this country and cannibalism. 

It was a society where the ‘Chief’s word was Gospel’.

That’s what Rangatiratanga actually means, although given the number of Māori who are today personally asserting that, one could be confused.

New Zealand was a country of great violence.

If one looks at the number of Māori killed by Māori in the lead up to February 1840 they are estimated to be in excess of 20,000, much greater than the total loss of Māori in all wars following that, including the 1st, 2nd, Korean, Malaysian and Vietnam Wars.

On the first Saturday of this month the NZ Herald carried a two-page article under the headline ‘White Wash’? 

The question mark does not save the article.

Among a number of ‘learnings’ is this claim. ‘ And on the British side, they were perfectly happy with the idea of Māori continuing to manage their own affairs’.

And then referring to the English draft of the Treaty ‘that the drafters expected self-government to co-exist with British Sovereignty – that the two texts of the Treaty reconcile rather than clash’.

This is breath-taking.  Both in its simplicity and its naivety. 

Add up the number of Tribes or Iwi existing in 1840 - and that’s how many self-governments would have existed in New Zealand.

If that was remotely possible which self-government’s word, order or directive would have prevailed between the Iwi or indeed over all Iwi.

Romantics might have a field day but we here are required to deal with facts, not fiction. 

It would be unkind to suggest that this is risible but what we’re reading cannot be excused as innocence. 

Because in fact it is an attempt to rewrite history, to reset the truth and “brown wash” everything.

The Herald article also has a revisionist rewrite of legal history referring to ‘the famous 1987 Lands case in the Court of Appeal, which cemented the principle of partnership in the Treaty’.

Ladies and Gentlemen, there is no reference or precedent for the claim of Partnership in that Land case. In a legal and constitutional sense partnership was never part of that case.

And those that claim it was when challenged to justify their interpretation respond not with fact but fiction.

When asked to show us how they arrived at this interpretation there is a deafening silence, not a murmur, not a mutter, not a syllable, not a sound.

Their view is a contempt for the Court’s decision.  Their view is that the Court of Appeal in 1987 simply ignored the words and meaning of the Treaty of Waitangi.

This is distressing, and the mis-description, mis-interpretation, mis-explanation cannot go unchallenged.

Over the years the Treaty of Waitangi, as brief as it is, has nevertheless been dishonoured in our history. 

But two wrongs do not make a right. 

And much of what is being argued lately, now is simply wrong, misleading and self-serving in its malignant purpose.

Remember Wilberforce had seen the end of slavery in the UK 1832, eight years before the Treaty of Waitangi.  

Remember - in Africa, countless African Kings were the first link in organising the evil chain of slavery from that continent.

No society historically has been comprised of angels. 

Our job is to learn from history, and in doing so, not repeat its mistakes.

In 2022, that’s what we must do.

If we wish to give equality to all of our citizens then their real needs must no longer be a distraction, a diversion in pursuit of extremist policies.

All over the world people share a dream with Māori. 

To have

  • a safe, affordable home,
  • to access first world health systems,
  • to step on educational escalators and travel as far as their commitment will take them,
  • and first world incomes.

People who realise that dream can also sustain their culture. And of course, Māori have a right to their language.

 Every culture does. 

Where that is practical and possible. 

And new technology, with online learning, today makes that achievable.

Linguistic flexibility is an intellectual muscle builder. Mental flexibility is a real asset in the modern world.  Swiss children can speak four languages so let’s drop this either “English or Māori”.  We can do both - but it should not be compulsory. 

We have the good fortune to speak the world-wide recognised language of modern commerce – English; so let’s confront those who reject it’s value to our country.

Ladies and Gentlemen, a gloom has formed over our country since 2020. Rights are now being based on race, not humanity or equality. 

This is a government of distractions where minor matters are a priority and major matters are neglected.

The left and too many academics are obsessed with class, race and gender.  Gender ideology is filtering into our schools, with the prospect of countless future court cases taken by young children and teens making decisions they are not equipped to make.

In the aftermath of the 2017 election NZ First had a choice of a modified status quo or a real change where capitalism would regain its human face. 

In 2017 we surveyed the huge housing crisis, health crisis, educational decline, wide disparity of incomes and growing lawlessness.

The NZ First Caucus voted unanimously for change, to be an engine room for good ideas and a handbrake for bad ones. And the handbrake was wisely used regularly.

If Labour was the reason for their huge victory in 2020, then you do the maths – what’s missing now.

We got no credit for it but the portfolios we ran, be it Foreign Affairs, NZ Aid, Defence, Provisional Growth Fund, saving KiwiRail and training 2238 new frontline police, to name just a few achievements, are in stark contrast to what has happened in other portfolios. Examples;

Mental Health under Labour has been a $1.9 Billion disaster.

Education under Labour has seen an escalation in falling education standards.

Lawlessness under Labour is an hourly headline

And their 100,000 house target over 10 years has been a sad joke.

Our health system under Labour is stressed to breaking point everywhere.

Virtue Signalling Racism

Training Māori and Pacifica to be doctors should always be important, rational, and logical. 

But Health Minister Little’s new enforced ethnic target has Medical Schools targeting 40% of all med students to be Māori or Pacifica next year.

To ’reflect the diversity of our communities’ is just plain virtue signalling extremism.

That target has no connection to the ethnic population ratios in New Zealand. 

Hundreds of students with qualifications to enter med school are going to be shut out unfairly simply because they come from ‘ the wrong race’ and the health treatment of all New Zealanders will suffer, no more so than Māori and Pacifica.

Policies for Race not Need

NZ First is not interested in promoting woke, racist, separatist projects.

When Labour presented these to NZ First, we said no. 

We said “need affects every race”. 

Addressing need is what wise governments focus on.

And then there were plans clearly hidden from us  - such as He Puapua, Ihumatao, Co-governance, and Three Waters.

They knew NZ First would never accept these racist policies.

Three Waters

Labour’s Three Waters policy is an intricate deceit. 

They have taken people’s concerns for healthy water supply and use, which has exercised local body politicians for decades in this country, and used it by stealth and spin to simply steal the public’s assets.

The insincerity and duplicity of politicians in this matter has few parallels. 

This is a modern Trojan Horse, a Velvet Glove. 

Using the need for something to be fixed to fleece the owners - you. 

The four new Three Waters agencies are now to be controlled by Māori.

Where 50% of the 12 member boards must be local Iwi and decisions must be by a 75% majority, then Māori control is Labour’s purpose. 

And remember if you are a Māori not of local heritage, then you will have no more say in who the six Māori members are than your non Māori neighbours.

For that Māori, you are a part of a powerless majority, alongside all other New Zealanders.

But you’ll all be paying the costs.

In Government NZ First stopped Labours racist, undemocratic, unmandated policies.

Now in government by themselves, without your agreement, they propose to legislate them as though you are powerless and impotent.

And for those that disagree with this thesis, we have one question – if what you are doing is good, why would you not wish to tell your coalition partner, or country before the last election? 

It’s no use coughing and spluttering and looking elsewhere, waving their hands all over the place like an Italian waiter, when this question is put to them.

Labour cannot answer that question without lying to you and many in their Caucus know it.

Human Capital

And all the while our most important asset, our human capital, is being neglected. 

If you doubt that, look at the level of truancy in our schools today.

Compare our once world leader status in literacy and mathematics to what it is now.

And the number one critical economic and social problem we have is our failure to train and treasure our human capital.

We either have human assets or human costs. 

When these two become imbalanced, the future is foreseeable. It is bleak.

In all the cacophony of woke claims being made today, when did you last see a march in our streets for better literacy and mathematics standards? 

When was the last march in the streets for safe, affordable housing, or better health access? 

The New Colonial Masters

But perhaps the greatest anomaly today is that those arguing for co-government, and separate race-based institutions, are striving to reintroduce the very evils of colonialism which they oppose – inequality, elite dictatorships, and as bad, where one vote is worth far less another.

The very short comings of colonialism against which they rail, is what they seek to reintroduce.

  1. Elitism – the will of the few, not the many
  2. An Orwell’s Animal Farm where some are more equal than others
  3. Inequality of rights – the anathema of democracy
  4. Minority population governing the majority

It also has a rather amusing irony.  The judging, measuring, rating, and grading of one’s ‘Māori-ness’ or ‘Māori empathy’. 

Those Māori who don’t agree with them are dismissed as ‘potato – brown on the outside, white in the middle’. Truly amazing. 

These bro and sister cheerleaders have clearly never seen a Māori potato.

The inside of a Māori potato is not white. But why would a simple fact like that stop them or their sickly white liberal cultural fellow travellers continuing their anthem of hate?

Māori Success

Ladies and Gentlemen, there are Māori organisations all around New Zealand doing great work. 

There are Māori businesses showing real enterprise. 

They can only thrive, and prosper, if unity in our country is our shared goal.

All will falter and fail if we are divided, pursuing separatist agendas.

Some of us are both Māori and Scots in our background. If living in Scotland we would say Scots and Māori. 

But we see ourselves as New Zealanders first. 

Part of a land we are trying to develop. 

Part of a culture we are trying to mould.

A land and culture that in the 211st century we are trying to grow together, of many strains with a common purpose of being New Zealanders, and proud of it.

The difference is we were taught to be proud of both our backgrounds.  We were never taught to put one on a pedestal and disown the other as being of no benefit.

We were never taught to hate the Scot’s oppressor who were English but rather to adopt their good points, get an education, work, save, and keep our eyes on the future.

We were told that for people to be equal, in a modern context, we needed the training - ‘free to be equal because we’ve been given the tools to be’.

Thus we became University graduates working all over the world.

We are not going to disown our past, our backgrounds, or our racial heritage. 

For our eyes are on the prize of an emerging culture of being New Zealanders. 

In our ethnic backgrounds, before and beyond New Zealand, the examples of colonialism, despotism, class warfare and racism are all legendary. 

We have that in common with Māori. 

Our objective is to learn from it and not to repeat it. 

Not to settle the score, so to speak, or believe that we can, this far out, right the wrongs of history. 

It means we have to change. 

Either choose to change or be forced to, because circumstances demand it.

Change because we are growing up, and our experience tells us to.

Change because we have seen the alternative and are alarmed by it.

Change because we wish to be a leading first world country again knowing that everybody in our country, if trained, educated and skilled, is the critical asset, the human mother load that will take us back to greatness.

It is time for us, having considered our situation as a nation, contemplated how we got there, committed ourselves to the task ahead, to now accept the commission and to set out to make New Zealand ‘God’s own’ again.


Extremism whether it be of the left or the right is always disastrous. 

Extremist policies are never designed with fairness in mind but political preference.

What we are witnessing in New Zealand today is neither modern or futuristic. 

It is a hopeless lurch, a terrible leap backwards to a tortured past. 


Ladies and Gentlemen,

Either you are for Separatism or you are for Democracy. 

You can have one, or the other, but you cannot have both. 

Either you are for Co-governance or you are for Democracy.

But you cannot have both.

Either you are for Separatism or One Law for All.

But you cannot have both.

Either you are for a Universal Franchise where every vote is equal, or you are for Separatism.

But you cannot have both.

Either you are for Unity of national purpose going forward or you are for a separatist straight jacket.

But you cannot have both.

New Zealand First will not work with any political party supporting an anti-democratic racist agenda. 

Ladies and Gentlemen, many of you, despite what you are witnessing, are optimistic and hopeful for New Zealand.

Many of you have confidence in your fellow citizens to trust that they will make sound decisions.

That is our shared belief.

For whatever mistakes we have made we still live in ‘God’s Own Country’ and we are not going to let it be sacrificed on a cross of extremist ideology.

It’s time for us to focus on the prize ahead and not distractions.

In the words of that famous old Māori saying

‘Not like the seagull, tossing and turning its head at every wave,

 But like the rock, steadfast against the surging sea’.

We have right on our side. 

And we, are going to win.