Winston Peters urges party faithful not to give up hope at NZ First meeting

Winston Peters has told members of New Zealand First not to give up hope as the party eyes a return to Parliament in 2023.

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Peters is expected to give a speech at the party’s AGM tomorrow. Source: 1 NEWS

About 150 people gathered for the NZ First AGM in Auckland today, with the party aiming to rebuild itself after it was ousted from Parliament at last year's election.

But, mounting a comeback first requires a look back - behind closed doors, members discussed a review of the party's election campaign.

“We're internally discussing these matters; we're reviewing where the strengths and weaknesses were,” former MP Shane Jones said.

Election night was brutal for NZ First. The party went from being kingmaker and Peters as Deputy Prime Minister to out of Parliament completely with just 2.6 per cent of the party vote.

The pandemic was frequently cited as a reason for the party’s dismal result in the election, with members saying voters were motivated by a fear of Covid-19.

Peters avoided the media today, with a blunt response to 1 NEWS' request for an interview.

“You know the answer to that is no,” he said.

Questions remain over whether Peters will stay on as party leader.

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Former NZ First MPs Ron Mark and Tracy Martin were seen as possible leaders, but both have now stepped away, leaving Jones and current deputy leader Fletcher Tabuteau as potential successors.

Tabuteau told 1 NEWS he would not take the leadership role if it was offered to him.

“I have never asked for it and I’m not going to go looking for it,” he said.

Meanwhile, Jones said Peters has his “thousand per cent support”.

Peters will be 78 at the next election but members expressed support for him to stay on as leader today.

He’s set to outline his future, and that of the party, in an address tomorrow.