One Question Quiz

PoliticsNovember 22, 2019

Winston Peters’ ‘fake news’ attack video: a close analysis


What, for example, is a pitchfork wrapped in tinsel doing over there, leaning up by an umbrella? Toby Manhire writes a speculative article.

A tumultuous week for Winston Peters and his New Zealand First Party has seen story after story raise troubling questions around donations. He’s not happy about it.

What do you do when you’re furious at the fourth estate for failing to give you a fair suck of the sav?

What do you do when you can’t get the cut-through you’re seeking with your totally calm responses like calling the media werewolves and psychos while your personal lawyer warns of suing opposition MPs for 30 million dollars?

The double ‘kind regards’ is next level, and best understood if you imagine the second ‘kind regards’ spoken incredibly, excruciatingly slowly.

You turn to the most valuable weapon in the contemporary politician’s toolbox.

You go the people direct.

You do a tweet.

This was Winston Peters this morning:

Sorry, not that one.

Not that one, either.

Here it is:

Actually, watching it again it’s not so much a direct appeal to the people as a direct appeal to the media.

Sitting at his desk in his seventh floor Beehive office, Peters begins by giving Simon Bridges a bit of stick for being “hypocritical” and insisting NZ First have “met all the requirements” of electoral law. Then he directly addresses, nay lambasts, the media, who reported extensively on the Serious Fraud Office launching an investigation into loans to the National Party, for failing to report on the Serious Fraud Office launching an investigation into loans to the National Party.

“My advice to the media is, get some serious education on the electoral law of this country and stop writing these speculative articles which do your profession no credit,” he says.

“Fake news is not good enough.”

And, look, he doesn’t quite go so far as to urge a draining of the swamp, or call the press the enemy of the people or go full hairdryer with a Nooah Quiid Proah Quoah but there are still many months till the election, so don’t touch the dial, psychos.

Meantime, let’s examine the scene.

A map of the world and a travel bag

And a map of the world with New Zealand at its centre, no less. Add to that what looks like a quality travel bag and you know you’re dealing with the wellspring, the prince of the nation’s diplomacy. Indeed, Peters is en route this very moment to Japan, where he will attend the G20 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Nagoya. It’s a significant moment for New Zealand’s geopolitical status to be at such a gathering, and a reminder that there are more important things than squabbles between the NZ First leader and the press.


“For the first time ever NZ will attend the G20 Foreign Ministers’ meeting,” said Peters in a separate tweet. “So we’re off to try and sort out the world. When we get back we’re going to sort out the media.”

Save the manumea poster

A framed poster, declaring “I’m saving the manumea” backs the campaign to rescue the national bird of Samoa from the brink of extinction. There are said to be fewer than 200 still around.

According to reports the handsome bird has been ravaged by hunting, deforestation, predators, psychos and werewolves.

Just visible to the left of the deputy prime minister’s ear is a carving of uncertain provenance – from the Cook Islands, maybe?

The safe

The safe is open. What has he taken out of there? An ancient letter from Helen Clark that he sometimes keeps in the car boot? A sign with the word “No” on it? Is it a secret portal to the dark shadow of the New Zealand First party? Probably just some travel documents, but I’m scared all the same.

The cap

Puzzling. Winston Peters doesn’t wear hats, does he? You simply do not fuck with The Hair.

Sorry not sure who took this photo. It should be in Te Papa. Was it you?

And it doesn’t look like the same as his comrade Shane Jones’s black cap.

Please get in touch if you have any intelligence or guesses to improve the cap-based content of this speculative article.

A laugh

Just as Winston Peters is castigating the media for “writing these speculative articles”, he for some reason breaks into laughter. Why? Probably because it’s so serious it’s funny. Or a staffer is planking off-camera. Who cares, really: what a smile, the equal of any matinee idol; a kaleidoscope in these grey days; a grin to melt the iciest of hearts. Unexpectedly, Murray McCully didn’t achieve a lasting peace in the Middle Peace, but Winston’s smile could and I’m not even joking.

An umbrella and a pitchfork wrapped in tinsel

Correct, it’s an umbrella and a pitchfork wrapped in tinsel.

According to several experts, the umbrella is likely to be for use in the rain, and no reasonable person would want to see one of the country’s finest heads of hair sullied by Wellington weather.

The pitchfork is less easily explained – at least until you get some serious education on the paranormal political realities of this country. For where there are werewolves and psychos everywhere you look, you’d be foolish not to keep a pitchfork handy. And it’s nearly Christmas.

The Spinoff has reached out to Peters’ office in the hope of confirming its tinsel-wrapped pitchfork speculation.

Update: Some actual facts, courtesy of Peters’ office, and the statement could not be more perfect: “The fork was a gift from staff in his ministerial office relating to a story of his childhood up in Northland he’d prefer to keep private, and ‘making hay while the sun shines’.”

Update 2: More than 20 people have contacted the Spinoff unironically upset that it’s not a pitchfork it’s a garden fork. Apologies for killing the buzz on your otherwise exciting day, fork enthusiasts!

Keep going!