In the 2005 elections the smaller political parties suffered a severe mauling. Though it remained the third-largest party in the House, New Zealand First took only 5.72 per cent of the vote, a considerable loss from 2002. In addition, Winston Peters narrowly lost his previously safe constituency seat of Tauranga by 730 votes to National’s Bob Clarkson.
New Zealand First had seven MPs, all elected on the party list, and agreed to a supply and confidence agreement with the Labour Party (along with United Future) in return for policy concessions. As Minister for Foreign Affairs (outside Cabinet) Winston Peters acquitted himself with distinction receiving acclaim both here and overseas. As Minister for Racing Peters is regarded as the key figure in turning the fortunes of the New Zealand Racing industry around and as Associate Minister for Senior Citizens he introduced the SuperGold Card and its concessions for senior citizens. Foreign diplomats have acknowledged his critical work and personality as the key to securing better relationships with the United States and highlighting security issues in the Pacific.