On 14 August 1998, Shipley sacked Peters from Cabinet after an ongoing dispute about the sale of the government’s stake in Wellington International Airport.

Peters immediately broke off the coalition but several other MPs, unwilling to follow Peters out of government, tried to replace Peters with Henare. This caucus-room coup failed, and most of these MPs joined Henare in forming a new party or remained as independents to prop up Shipley’s government, which cut superannuation and resumed National’s privatisation programme.