Jim Anderton worked like a trojan and was tough as nails - Matt McCarten

By Piripi Taylor

Jim Anderton could have been Prime Minister had he toed the line within the Labour Party government during the asset sales and economic reforms of the 80's. His convictions inspired many Māori to follow him.

Matt McCarten says, "From the time I first met him, he was always consistent. He was as tough as nails, he worked like a trojan and he was a very dominant personality and I was inspired by that." 

1989 sparked a rollercoaster ride for a young Matt McCarten who was appointed president of Andertons New Labour Party and eventually The Alliance Party who eventually went on to govern with Labour.

McCarten says, "Jim had made peace with the Labour Party and when we went into government, he really wanted it to work and that required a lot of compromise and sacrifice.

The 16yr relationship nose-dived in 2002 when the two came into conflict 

"It was one of those fundamental things in politics of policy and of course, there are other factors around it but I think that that was it but Jim was very hurt by that," says McCarten.

Former Alliance Deputy Leader, Sandra Lee-Vercoe maintains that wasn't the case

"I know the theory goes that the Alliance melted down due to an ideological debate around Afghanistan but the truth is - and I was there up close and personaAfghanistana good old-fashioned political coup and an attempt at snatching the leadership."

What can be agreed on is how formidable Anderton was as a leader

The funeral arrangements for the former deputy PM are yet to be confirmed.