Winston Peters anti-immigration, anti Maori water rights campaign is starting to work for New Zealand First.
The party appears to be drawing votes off National.
The Roy Morgan poll, which the company dates as April 17 shows National down 3.5% to 42.5% and NZ First up 3.5% to 12.5%.
Labour is down another two percent to 26%.
It has failed to pick up the votes that are flaking off National; instead, they are going to NZ First which suggests that it NZ First who have gained out of the Panama Papers scandal.
Mr Peters was able to remind people of the similarity between the Prime Minister’s initially casual response to the Panama Papers with the similar disinterest of the Bolger Government when the Winebox was first raised by him.
Mr Peters has been very active over the past six weeks, holding a number of public meetings in small towns.
His themes are constant. Here are some quotes from recent speeches:
IMMIGRATION: “We have become a country without borders and with little concern for the impact immigration is bringing on vast sections of our society.We are becoming a country which is increasingly showing a lack of concern for some New Zealanders who are born here.”
WATER:: “Could a New Zealander go and help themselves to something out of the ground in China? New Zealand First’s bottom line – water is an incredibly valuable resource for NZ and should not be given away. Pure water is precious – we should guard it jealously!”
THE GOVERNMENT: “We have a government which is interested only in making the economy work for their rich mates. That’s why we had our prime minister and his government deny New Zealand is a soft touch tax haven for mega-wealthy foreigners and money laundering criminals while experts both in New Zealand and overseas are saying the opposite.”
RACE RELATIONS: “It is obvious that National have been brownmailed into making policy concessions to the Maori Party. They were bent over a barrel and not surprisingly, didn’t have the backbone to stand up to them. Nor did they have the common sense to look around to the one party that could help – New Zealand First.The proposed changes to the RMA are a signal flare to the entire country that the two parties are taking us down the track of separatism. We are no longer one people. We are moving towards two separate groups with separate rights.”
National Ministers have suspected for some weeks now that NZ First was making gains.
However, the initial thinking was that those gains were coming at the expense of Labour.
They may be surprised at how much support they have lost to NZ First.
For Labour, the result though it will be unwelcome is probably not unexpected.
The poll may put an end to any idea that the three Opposition parties – Labour, the Greens and NZFirst – shared a common destiny.
That is not the way Mr Peters will see it as if he continues to poll this high it is highly likely he will be the kingmaker after the next election.