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Shane Jones appearance at NZ First event

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 3/02/2017

Former Labour MP Shane Jones has again sparked talk of a return to politics, hosting a community meeting for NZ First leader Winston Peters.

Mr Jones, who was an immigration and building and construction minister under Labour's Helen Clark, has been rumoured as a potential candidate for NZ First, and a possible successor to Mr Peters as leader.

The pair came together for a community discussion on pre and post Treaty of Waitangi relations at St Paul's Anglican Church in Paihia on Friday night ahead of a busy weekend at Waitangi.

Mr Peters says it was in that capacity that Mr Jones hosted the event.

"I have no idea who is standing for New Zealand First seat-by-seat until nominations are in and I'm given a list," he said.

"There are others I know in the pipeline - we've had 103 serious expressions of interest and we're, I think, heading toward 55 to 60 that are well down the track to begin resolved, but that's all I can say at this point in time."

Mr Jones will not comment until May when his three-year term as ambassador for Pacific Economic Development comes to an end.

NZ First will hold a caucus meeting on Tuesday when current MPs are expected to announce their decisions on whether they will seek re-election in 2017.

At least one has told Mr Peters they don't intend to run but he won't reveal who that is, nor will he comment on their reasons until they announce their decision.

"Everybody that's got experience with NZ First is going to be a loss, who's been loyal and stuck with the party for a long time'" he said.

Mr Peters said now was "rubber meets the road time" for sitting MPs with candidate selection scheduled earlier than usual this year.

An announcement is expected to be made within a week on who will stay and who will go.

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