Peters in one-on-ones with English, Ardern

Corporate New Zealand is under scrutiny by New Zealand First leader Winston Peters. Photo: Peter...
Just before the meetings, Mr Peters told media the board was able to agree "98%" on the policy packages that the two parties presented to NZ First. Photo: Peter McIntosh.
NZ First leader Winston Peters is holding secret one-on-one meetings with National leader Bill English and Labour leader Jacinda Ardern tonight, straight after the NZ First board meeting packed up with no decision made.

The New Zealand Herald saw Mr Peters meet with Mr English almost immediately after the NZ First board left.

Mr English was on his own without staff or any of his negotiating team. Mr Peters was also believed to be alone - his chief of staff was not in the room.

They met in the same room NZ First and Labour and National had held their talks in last week.

The Herald saw Mr English leave soon after 6pm, after about half an hour in the room.

Labour leader Jacinda Ardern has also just left the room after meeting Mr Peters.

The secrecy was such that Ms Ardern took a different route than usual to get to the room which bypassed any media.

While NZ First had made public the timings of the talks last week, these were held with no notice to media.

Just before the meetings, Mr Peters told media the board was able to agree "98%" on the policy packages that the two parties presented to NZ First, but leader to leader talks were needed to resolve other issues.

"We can't make a decision as a party until we've had those discussions."

He did not specify what those issues were but they are expected to include the shape a government might take, any ministerial portfolios and any concerns Mr Peters might have about working with Mr English and Ms Ardern as Prime Minister.

Mr Peters said all the various shapes a governing arrangement could take were still on the table.

Mr Peters said he would try and resolve it as fast as possible. It was still his goal to reach a decision by the end of the week, but that would partly depend on other parties as well.

"We've got things to finish off as urgently as we can, sorting out differences of calculations and opinions and trying to make sure we've got with both sides a clear understanding so that if we do finalise it we'll know where we've got the agreement rather than having to go away and write it again."

Mr Peters said there was "serious consensus" over the policies put to both sides. "This is a case of policies that survived and those are the ones that will be going into an agreement."

He said once those final details were hammered out, a further board meeting could be held by teleconference rather than in person.

 

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