Winston Peters has used a speech at the New Zealand First conference to signal that the party will focus more on policies for the young.
Mr Peters acknowledged in his speech that for too long NZ First has been seen as a bastion for the elderly or senile.
Mr Peters said he was determined to move the party firmly into the 20th century.
Mr Peters used the speech to announce a range of youth-friendly policies and party initiatives. They include:
- Educational funding: young people wanting to take courses in needlework, knitting or home baking will have tuition fees fully paid by the government.
- Free dentist visits for the young: The party will make some dental procedures free of charge. Denture fittings will now be paid for by the government.
- Social media: installing a telex machine in every electoral office will make it easier for technology-savvy young people to stay in touch with the party.
- Health: more resources will be put into cutting hip operation waiting lists for the under-20s.
- Personal grooming: a number of state-funded barber shops will be established around the country, in order to keep the cost of a trim affordable. So now there will be no excuse to grow that hair long and scruffy.
- Environmental policy: Young people are typically passionate about the environment, ecology and conservation. In order to preserve precious grasslands for future generations, nobody will be allowed to walk on anyone else’s lawn.
- Establishing a youth wing of the party for the under 80s.
But the announcement received a mixed reception at the conference.
Party stalwart Margot Kneebrock said she was impressed by Peters’ speech, even though she had not heard a word of it.
“I’m deaf in one ear!” she yelled. “Speak up! Winston, did you say? Oh yes, we love our Winston! Marvellous!”
And Barry McLingle of Tauranga said he was against young people getting any sort of special treatment.
“When I was a young man making my way in the world,” began Mr McLingle before trailing off into a lengthy monologue about world affairs and the evils of China, and then falling asleep in a chair.
The conference winds up today, after a lunch of gravy and mashed potatoes