Anti-immigration politician becomes NZ foreign minister

18 October 2005


A populist politician known for his anti-immigration statements has become New Zealand's new Foreign Minister. Winston Peters, who promotes racial profiling of Muslims, will become the public face of New Zealand on the world stage.

New Zealand's wild election ride came to an extraordinary finish this week as Labour Prime Minister Helen Clark pieced together what some call a bizarre minority Government with Mr Peters as Foreign Minister.

Mr Peters, a Maori who is the leader of the New Zealand First party, is the country's most controversial politician.

He has called for immigration to be radically slashed, said the country was being "colonised" by Asians, and proposed that Muslims be racially profiled and generally kept out of New Zealand as a terror threat.

Don Brash, the leader of the National Party, which narrowly missed out on taking government, said the shock appointment was "astonishing - not just for the New Zealand public but for the whole region which distrusts Winston Peters".

"I think putting him in as minister of foreign affairs does huge damage for our international reputation," Dr Brash said.