Is it loathing, or is it love?
Love, as was so astutely observed by Pat Benatar, is a battlefield. So while the Chris and Chris Show was a balm for the soul, there is another great romance at play in New Zealand politics, waged in the verbal fisticuffs of Winston Peters and David Seymour.
Christopher Luxon’s 11th hour confirmation this morning that he would work with Winston Peters as well as David Seymour if it came to it has sent screaming from their cupboards a flock of love-hate letters, barbs exchanged over the years between the NZ First and Act leaders.
Here are 15 of them, ranked – to borrow the Australian vernacular – from least to most shirtfronty.
“Winston Peters has been shredding his own credibility for decades.”
– Seymour, June 2022
“A political cuckold that has got so much integrity he has to get another party to prop him up.”
– Peters on Seymour, July 2020
“The least trustworthy person in New Zealand politics”
– Seymour on Peters, Newstalk ZB, September 25 2023
“Not only is that statement utterly false, but, worse still, we are not going to take it from a cuckolded puppet.”
– Peters appeals to the speaker of the house over a Seymour attack, March 2017
“I take offence at being referred to as a cuck by someone who smoked for 60 years.”
– Seymour, in response, March 2017
“It’s all right, grandpa.”
– Shortly after Seymour said this to Peters in the house (earlier, Peters had called Seymour “Sunshine”), he was chucked out of parliament, June 2020
“David Seymour reminds me of a chihuahua at the front gate barking at every cat, human being or fellow dog that passes by.”
– Winston Peters ruminates, August 2017
“We’re not going to sit around the cabinet table with this clown.”
Seymour on Peters, after noting “obviously” if necessary he could agree to a government with both involved, on Gone By Lunchtime, September 2023
“People are going to sit down and try and write the legacy of Winston Peters … As they sit and they try to describe what Winston Peters has achieved in 40 years, they will find they have nothing to write. What a shame, what a shame. But, sadly, it is still true that he is taking the shape of a Shouldbegone.”
– A David Seymour parliamentary speech, complete with visual aids, February 2020
“This is a guy who has more bottom lines than a 100-year-old elephant. He is now up to nine bottom lines. He has peaked too early in this election, and he is going to find out that the problem with Winston Peters’ politicking is eventually you run out of other people’s gullibility.”
– Seymour in parliament, July 2017
“Here’s the political cuckold from Epsom shouting out now. You know who that is, don’t you? The one who’s looking for a second tango partner. In fact, I saw him the other night on TV dancing, again … They pick these special moments on national TV to humiliate themselves.”
– Peters has a go at Seymour in the house, February 2020
“It’s like an arsonist showing up dressed as a fireman, saying, ‘I am here to help and fix it all.'”
– Seymour on Peters as a candidate for government, Newshub debate, September 21 2023
“David Seymour discovered his Māori-ness the same way Columbus discovered America, purely by accident.”
– Peters lashes out at Seymour (Ngāpuhi) on Te Ao with Moana (Sept 18, 2023), though fails to acknowledge that Christopher Columbus would have voted for Act.
“You are a crook. A charismatic crook perhaps, but a crook all the same.”
– Seymour reaches for the hyperbole in a 2020 TV debate
A series …
“Winston Peters’ swansong promise to slash immigration is tragic. Peters himself will soon be retired and will require a care worker to help him get dressed and go for a walk. He’ll discover that such facilities can’t function without migrant workers.”
– Seymour on NZ First policy, July 2020
“I’ve spent much of my career respecting and working for retirees. You seem to want to euthanise them. As for your nasty comments about my physical – I reckon you’d last 10 seconds in the ring with me.”
“He spends enough time in the hospital without my intervention. If his punches are as empty as his political promises, I’ve got nothing to worry about.”
There’d be three hits – you hitting me, me hitting you, and the ambulance hitting 100. Thank your lucky stars I’m not into physical violence.”
“I wouldn’t fight him like that, it would be elder abuse.”