Andrew Little says Winston Peters is too old to be Northland's next MP and the region needs someone who "will be there for a wee while".
The Labour leader told TV ONE's Breakfast programme today the 69-year-old New Zealand First leader will face a tight contest in the upcoming Northland by-election.
"Winston, he's an old stager from way back, he's a good campaigner but he's in the twilight of his political career, he's very experienced, very senior but I think Northlanders are wondering how long they are going to have this MP for," Mr Little said.
Despite Mr Little not backing Mr Peters' chances, he does tend to agree with the veteran politician's views on how Northlanders want a change.
"I think there is a sense amongst Northlanders that they are disgruntled about the Government, they seem to have been neglected for a long time," he said.
Conceding that Labour may struggle to secure the seat over National or New Zealand First, Mr Little says putting candidate Willow-Jean Prime, 31, forward is still worthwhile.
"I think they want an articulate candidate who can take them forward and that is perhaps going to be there for a wee while," he said.
Mr Peters threw his hat in the ring for the March 28 by-election sparked by the resignation of National MP Mike Sabin.
If Mr Peters wins Northland, National would lose that seat and Mr Peters would also get to bring in another New Zealand First list MP to fill his current seat.
Mr Peters claims that Northland has been become a "forgotten cinderella-ised province" under National.
John Key says it's "very important" that National win the Northland by-election and he isn't going to be distracted by Mr Peters.
"It's not really about Winston Peters, it's about National being able to carry out its mandate," the Prime Minister said.