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'National party with a capital n' - Winston Peters baits National, declares NZ First is the party of the centre

Winston Peters has baited National today, calling New Zealand First the party of the centre in Aotearoa right now.

The NZ First leader told members at his party’s convention that “New Zealand First, right now, as a party of the centre, is the National party with a capital n”.

He also said he had no regrets about going into government with Labour, two years after they formed a coalition, with the Greens giving confidence and supply.

“NZ First sits at the heart of this Government,” Mr Peters declared.

The party made no detailed policy announcement, but young NZ First managed an earlier win with an agreement to review its policy on pill testing at festivals.

“It's a very different issue when you are living with peers who are taking drugs every day,” Robert Griffith of Young NZ First said.

The issue is highlighting a progressive arm within the traditionally conservative caucus, with several of the party’s MPs voicing their concerns on the issue.

“What will happen to some young person’s body when they consume something that is full of drain cleaner,” Jenny Marcroft said.

Clayton Mitchell said: “I know the intent to have these pill testing stations is not to legitimise the use of drugs but in a way it does."

MP Tracey Martin added: “I believe there is a middle road here and that’s part of the conversation we need to have."

That change is not seen in the rhetoric of the party’s leader though, with Mr Peters adopting a typical line on immigration.

“We ensured that only those who can financially provide for the health demands of their parents can bring them in,” he said.

1 NEWS political reporter Maiki Sherman says Mr Peters is desperate to retain the crown of kingmaker and this weekend has been all about keeping an eye on the prize.

Sherman says while the party may dismiss the polls, make no mistake - there will be nerves behind the smiles of NZ First members.

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The NZ First leader told the party convention in Christchurch he has no regrets in going with Labour to form a government. Source: 1 NEWS