One thing that Winston Peters detests severely is the way media covers him, reports about him and the wide latitude it uses in guessing his next move in politics.
They both demonise each other relentlessly and then run into each other’s arms, seemingly comforting arms, at the first pretext.
A classic example of this love-hate relationship was displayed on Wednesday, September 27, when the newly crowned kingmaker from up north landed in the capital.
First, the media almost mobbed him at the airport expecting naively to get the answer to the million dollar question that New Zealand faces today: who will he eventually give the throne to – Bill or Jacinda.
Then a bit later, Mr Peters bombarded everyone in the media for everything wrong that they have done so far, or doing wrong in this election and also warning that it will be his last response to media before October 7 when results for special votes will be out.
However, this proved to be a short-lived self-restraint as Mr Peters found himself speaking with an Australian media representative within twenty minutes of the declaration.
Clearly, there is a love-hate relationship between Mr Peters and the media, which everyone seems to enjoy these days, at least now, when the nation is entering a painful wait for the new government.
Elections are over, and the only thing we know as of now with a degree of certainty is that Winston Peters is the kingmaker of the next incoming government.
The election night rock star-like celebrations of National Party leader Bill English, and the relatively subdued appearance by Labour Leader Jacinda Ardern, both have evaporated to some degree, autocorrecting more toward the centre of these two extreme emotions.
Now, Labour has some real chance of sneaking into government while National, on the other hand, faces a real threat of being denied the right to a successive fourth term despite having a commandeering electoral performance.
This is purely because Mr Peters has outrightly rejected any one’s “moral right” (read National Party) to be given a first go at the government formation.
By underplaying the role of “morality” Mr Peters is not only able to keep National, his perennial nemesis, down and sober but also liberate him of any unspoken pressure on how a party with a mere seven per cent votes (New Zealand First) should be mindful and respectful of the expectations of general public of New Zealand.
This is a situation that Mr Peters relishes and knows how best to enjoy and keep everyone guessing.
Till the time we eventually get a new government we will take a detour from guessing about Mr Peters himself, and guess about what the government with Winston Peters in it would look like.
Mr Peters had started his political career with the National Party and naturally leans towards being ‘socially conservative.’
Ever since parting ways with the National, Mr Peters has not deviated toward ‘socially progressive’ that naturally rests with the Labour-led left block in New Zealand politics.
Even in the interview to the Australian correspondent on Wednesday about prospects of supporting National, Mr Peters decried National from being least socially conservative and National, rather than rejecting that he himself was socially conservative.
Mr Peters largely competes with National for the same votes that are largely socially conservative from within and only despises National in its current form for its supposed stand on immigration, global outlook and foreign trade, particularly foreign investment in land-buying.
However, this is not good news for National in any sense.
So if Mr Peters is really thinking ahead for 2020 as well when his party would have to go back to those voters, then Mr Peters would be keen on stamping his authority on the government on these policies.
What it means is that regardless of which party Mr Peters finally decides to go with National or Labour; there would be significant changes in the direction of current policies.
From the Kiwi-Indian community’s perspective, a change of direction in immigration, housing and general economy is imminent.
All indications suggest that any government surviving on Mr Peters support is going to be tough on immigration.
Mr Peters has been a vehement critic of a large number of low-skilled migrants inundating the country and supposedly taking away jobs of the locals and not adding any value to New Zealand.
There has been a long-standing policy of New Zealand First to reduce immigration to a mere 10,000 every year.
There is much lack of clarity in this policy as of now as it is not clear if Mr Peters would like to reduce net immigration to these levels from the current high of 72,000. Or is he talking about a total number of migrant workers eventually allowed in the country?
Do these numbers account for the family members of the skilled migrants?
The Labour Party has some affinity with Mr Peters on immigration as it is calling for a reduction in net immigration from the current level by a 20-25,000.
Either way, a change in the immigration policy is largely imminent in a government with Winston Peters at the helm of affairs.