Let the games begin — parties turn focus to negotiations

National Party leader and Prime Minister-elect Christopher Luxon will need the support of New...
National Party leader and Prime Minister-elect Christopher Luxon will need the support of New Zealand First leader Winston Peters to form a government after the final election result was confirmed with the counting of the special votes yesterday.
Prime Minister-elect Christopher Luxon says he can now focus on forming a strong and stable government — and he will be doing it negotiating with Winston Peters.

"Now we can get cracking," Mr Luxon told reporters at Parliament an hour after the final election result was confirmed with the counting of special votes yesterday afternoon.

The National Party’s one-seat majority with Act New Zealand on election night has dissolved, thrusting Mr Peters and NZ First into the role as kingmaker.

"We are working constructively with both parties. We are going to come together and form a strong stable government," Mr Luxon said.

Mr Peters said NZ First wanted negotiations to be conducted with urgency.

"What can we agree on ... we can’t all get what we want, we have to get a sound, much much better government under way," Mr Peters said.

The NZ First leader said the most useful thing was for National, Act and NZ First to all get in the room together as opposed to having separate conversations.

"This is not my first negotiation, I’m only negotiating with one side, so to speak, not two and that’s why we can expedite this."

Meanwhile, Te Pāti Māori recorded its best result, taking another two Māori electorate seats off the Labour Party in Te Tai Tokerau and Tāmaki Makaurau, meaning they won six of the seven electorates.

Their result means Parliament will have a two-seat overhang, as they won more electorate seats than through their share of the party vote (3%), another seat to be added after the Port Waikato by-election making up 123 seats.

This would mean 62 seats would be needed to form a majority.

On the results released yesterday, National dropped two seats from 50 on election night to 48, while Act remained on 11. This gave the two parties 59 seats together, meaning another three seats would be needed to form a government.

Mr Luxon thanked National supporters and volunteers, along with those candidates who had missed out, some in some very close vote counts.

"I can’t give you a deadline," he said regarding the announcement of the new government.

But there was goodwill on all sides of the discussions, he said.

"This has been the most likely and expected outcome."

He would continue to keep negotiations confidential.

Act leader David Seymour said he hoped the new government could be finalised within a "matter of days" or within a week.

Labour leader Chris Hipkins has conceded that a National-Act-NZ First coalition will govern; however, Labour might still seek recounts in some close electorates, he said.

NZ First remains on the eight seats it recorded on election night. Together, the three parties would have 67 seats, with another seat likely to be added as National’s Andrew Bayly is the favourite to win the Port Waikato by-election.

Mr Luxon has been in negotiating talks with both Mr Seymour and Mr Peters in preparation for such a result.

The final results saw Te Pāti Māori gain another two seats compared to election night to record a historic result, their best since 2011 when they won five seats.

Takutai Tarsh Kemp beat Labour’s Peeni Henare by just four votes, overturning what was a 495-vote deficit on election night.

In an even more stunning result, Te Pāti Māori’s Mariameno Kapa-Kingi gained a majority of 517 over Labour’s Kelvin Davis in Te Tai Tokerau, overturning a 487-vote deficit on election night.

While National dropped two seats overall, it also lost two electorate seats to Labour candidates, meaning veteran MP Gerry Brownlee will just scrape in on the list.

Labour remains on 34 seats, winning 17 electorates and with 17 list MPs.

The Green Party gains one seat to give it its best result, meaning Christchurch-based candidate Kahurangi Carter enters Parliament for the first time.

In other seats, Labour’s Rachel Boyack secured Nelson by just 29 votes after trailing National’s Blair Cameron by 54 votes after the initial count.

Labour’s Phil Twyford, who trailed National’s Angee Nicholas in Te Atatū by just 30 votes, ended up coming out ahead by 131.

All other seats have remained with the candidates who won them on October 14.

Vanessa Weenink has been confirmed as Banks Peninsula’s MP after leading Labour’s Tracey McLellan by 83 votes on election night.

Labour’s Helen White, who only led Mt Albert by 106 votes, has cemented her win over National’s Melissa Lee.

The Electoral Commission reported 603,257 people cast special votes, equating to just over one-fifth of the just under 2.9million votes cast — up from 17% in 2017 and 2020.

These include votes cast overseas, by people outside their electorate and anyone who needed to update their details at the time of voting.

The Electoral Commission has had 20 days since election day to tally these, along with updating and processing all enrolments, checking if anyone has voted more than once and investigating dual votes.

The long time-frame to determine the final results has drawn some criticism, but it also includes a legally required 10 days for special votes to be returned from overseas and 13 days for special votes cast in New Zealand to be returned to their home electorate.

It has also been argued to be the cost of making voting easier and more accessible.

Turnout overall was 78.2% of enrolled voters, down on 81.5% in 2020.

However, enrolment overall at 94.7% was the highest since 2008.

There was a large turnout for Māori overall, with 567,012 voters on both the Māori and general rolls, up from 535,472 in 2020 and 476,498 in 2017. — The New Zealand Herald/RNZ

Party votes

National 38.06%

Labour 26.1%

Green Party 11.6%

Act New Zealand 8.64%

NZ First 6.08%

Te Pāti Māori 3.08%