With the Labour Party in some disarray, Deputy PM Winston Peters may be surprised how warmly he is welcomed back in the Beehive when he returns.
Initially it was expected he would be absent for not much more than a week after he took leave on August 19 for surgery to what was said to be a recurrence of an “old rugby injury”.
However it is understood he had still not been cleared to fly this week and was reported to be working at his Auckland home.
He posted an image to his social media accounts on Wednesday showing him walking his dog Beau: “Both getting fit and enjoying the fresh air”.
When PM Jacinda Ardern said on August 19 Peters would be undergoing a “small surgical procedure” she indicated he had been advised post-procedure to have some days avoiding travel and not bearing weight.
This is not the first time Peters has been out of action because of the injury. In early 2007, he had surgery on his knee. At the time, a spokesman said the surgery was related to an old rugby injury.
Even though he is 74, Peters has maintained a heavy schedule as Minister of Foreign Affairs & Trade, State-Owned Enterprises and Racing.
Some Beehive insiders contend he is the default facto Prime Minister, since the government doesn’t get to make any decisions without his nod of approval.
And clearly the PM would have found Peters experience in Parliament invaluable this week as she absorbed a battering from the Opposition over allegations of sexual assault by a Labour Party staffer in her office. Peters is now almost a father-figure within the present administration, stemming partly from his longevity in NZ politics, and partly because he exudes an inate confidence in his own political persona.