Election 2017: Jacinda Ardern 'hoped for better' after strong National result
Labour leader Jacinda Ardern says her party was hoping for a better result as the election results roll in and National stays 10 points ahead.
"Obviously, we hoped for better," Ardern said as she left her house to travel to the Labour Party election event in Auckland's Aotea Centre.
National is looking at securing 58 seats while Labour has 45, with just under 100 per cent of the votes counted.
Ardern says she had phoned National leader Bill English but the final outcome won't be decided by either of them.
"It will be decided by MMP," she told cheering supporters
"I simply cannot predict at this point what decisions other leaders will make."
She said she committed to hold onto the ideas and issues to build a NZ to be proud of.
"We will do everything we can to work with parties that share our belief' that things can be better."
Her speech started with her memory of seven weeks ago being selected leader.
"'I've come off the field knowing we gave it our all.'"
She would remain "relentlessly positive...because I struggle to muster a facial expression that isn't a smile".
"Let's keep doing this," is her final word in a twist on her campaign theme - "Let's do this."
ENGLISH: NATS TO BEGIN TALKS WITH NZ FIRST
Speaking to party faithful, English said voters had given an expression of confidence in the country.
He emphasised that National won more seats than Labour and the Greens combined.
"No one expected that three weeks ago."
English said National "demonstrated it has the energy and the drive to take New Zealand forward."
However, he said it was clear that neither Labour nor National could form a government without a support partner.
He acknowledged "the strong performance" of NZ First and said he would begin discussion on forming a new government with its leader, Winston Peters, in the coming days.
English said it was important that National was able to move "reasonably quickly" to form a new administration.
PETERS KEEPS PARTIES WAITING
The NZ First leader made it clear during a speech to supporters he won't be committing to support either of the major parties for some days yet.
He refused to discuss any potential coalition deals until he spoke with the party.
In a twist of the night, the NZ First leader lost his Northland seat.
Peters was nearly 1400 votes behind National's Matt King when 98 per cent of the votes were counted.
Of course, NZ First's party vote count of 7.5 per cent nationwide which meant Peters would be back in Parliament - and in the kingmaker position - with eight colleagues.
GREENS BACK, MAORI PARTY OUT
Meanwhile, the Greens were set to get 7 seats - with 23-year-old Chloe Swarbrick among them.
Earlier, Greens leader James Shaw called for an alliance between his party, NZ First and Labour to create a new Government.
Three opposition parties would command a majority of votes once all of the votes are counted, Shaw said.
"New Zealanders overwhelmingly voted for change."
While the Act party have survived - party leader and sole MP David Seymour once again in the box seat for the Epsom electorate, the Māori Party have fared badly and at this stage will be out of Parliament altogether.
Gareth Morgan's Opportunities Party failed to reach the five per cent threshold, and he had given a concession speech.
EARLY VOTING HUGE
The polls opened earlier on Saturday with fine weather greeting most voters.
However, many had decided to vote before Saturday, with over 250,000 votes coming in the day before.
In all 1.24 million early votes were cast.
Just over 3 million New Zealanders had enrolled to vote by Friday evening, but not all of them will have voted.
Early votes were likely to have made up between 40 and 50 per cent of the final vote, although a proportion of them were "special" votes, which weren't counted until October 7.
The Electoral Commission told Stuff on Saturday that around 16 per cent of advanced ballots were special votes.
Anyone who enrolled as they voted early would have cast a special vote.
Last election, special votes made up around 12 per cent of the total vote and ended up granting the Green Party an extra seat at the expense of National.