Speculation over who may succeed NZ First leader Winston Peters was stirred during the party’s conference last weekend. The annual conference took place in Rotorua, where a number of policies were announced in keynote speeches from Peters and fellow NZ First MPs.
The party leadership became embattled last month following a political coup led by MP Ron Mark against deputy leader Tracey Martin. Since ascending to the deputy leadership, Mark has been singled out as the most likely to take over from Winston Peters.
Otago lecturer and political commentator Dr Bryce Edwards has suggested Mark as being the likely candidate for leader in his New Zealand Herald column.
“It’s becoming clear that Ron Mark, who was recently elected deputy leader, is likely to succeed Peters when that day finally arrives. Mark has shown himself to be the only New Zealand First MP who comes even close to possessing the qualities that make Peters so enduring,” wrote Edwards.
However, comments made by Peters have seemingly encouraged speculation over who will lead the party after the 70-year-old politician resigns. Former Labour MP and long-time friend of Peters, Shane Jones, has been the subject of long-running rumours that he will be the one to succeed the leader.
So far, Peters has refused to confirm or deny Jones’ potential involvement with the party. However, while speaking at the annual conference, Peters referred to Jones as “highly intelligent”.
Rumours about Jones were sparked in March following Peters’ victory in the Northland by-election. Jones was reportedly among the attendees of Peters’ victory party held in Russell.