27 Sep 2017

Winston Peters tight-lipped as he returns to Wellington

4:17 pm on 27 September 2017

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters returned to Wellington this morning to discuss coalition options with his colleagues.

Winston Peters arrives at Wellington Airport, as he prepares to hold the first caucus meeting of his MPs after the election.

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters was met by reporters when he landed at Wellington Airport. Photo: RNZ / Jane Patterson

With neither National nor Labour having enough seats to govern alone, both need New Zealand First's nine seats - based on preliminary results - to form a government. Labour would need the Greens as well as New Zealand First.

The two main parties are assembling their negotiating teams and looking for common policy areas with New Zealand First.

Mr Peters, who arrived at Wellington Airport on the same flight as National campaign manager Steven Joyce, was met by a contingent of media.

He would only say he was in the capital to talk to his caucus and declined to answer further questions.

The caucus meeting was due to take place at Parliament early this afternoon.

Mr Peters has said he won't agree on a deal until the count of the special votes is known on 7 October.

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters and National's campaign manager Steven Joyce get off their flight in Wellington.

Steven Joyce may have had to wait a while on the plane but emerged first into the arrivals hall. Photo: RNZ / Jane Patterson

Speaking before the meeting, New Zealand First MP Tracey Martin said no single party had a 'moral mandate' to form a government.

Ms Martin said she didn't expect what she called real talks to happen until after special votes were counted.

"This is MMP," she said.

But, to put it in perspective, Germany was not expecting to get a government until Christmas, she said.

"I don't think we're going to be here waiting 'til Christmas."

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This is how the next Parliament could look, based on the preliminary results of Saturday's election. This graphic excludes any changes as a result of the special vote results due to be released early next month. Photo: RNZ

New Zealand First's new MP Shane Jones arrived at the airport this morning clutching two boxes of seafood.

"This is Spirits Bay kaimoana - crayfish. I don't know which is which one is female and one is male...one's rations for the soldiers and the other is a tribute to Caesar," Mr Jones joked.

"They've been cooked Tai Tokerau style - steamed, but we don't do premature heat in the North it's a gradual process to cook the crayfish."

Mr Jones said the New Zealand First caucus wouldn't be carrying out coalition negotiations today but rather, meeting to learn how to start working with one another.

"There's some new roosters in our caucus of whom I'm one - obviously I'm not new to Parliament."

Mr Jones said he thought he might be a little too rough around the edges to be involved in coalition talks himself and he'd leave that up to the party's rangatira, Mr Peters.

Labour's leader Jacinda Ardern was out and about today at a school for teenage parents near Wellington.

But she was still very much focused on the talks that will happen over the coming weeks.

Ms Ardern said there was policy alignment between Labour and New Zealand First but she is not creating any expectations.

"My job is to make sure that Labour is in the best place possible to start talks to form a stable, durable coalition government.

"What we'll be making sure of, when we go into those negotiations, we're taking them incredibly seriously, doing the preparatory work but also leaving the space for Mr Peters and also for the Green Party that they need to alongside their colleagues."

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