NZ First leader Winston Peters has hit back at people who claim he wields all the power with only 7 per cent of the vote, saying they are "entirely wrong".
Peters and the NZ First MPs have spent the day in a caucus meeting which was expected to go until late in the evening. He said the suggestion he held all the power was wrong.
"That sort of statement is supercilious in the extreme. The Government right now lasted this term with three other partners that had between 3-5 per cent of the vote between them. No one was making that claim back then. So they should be half-way consistent and stop making that claim now."
Peters said he still believed it was possible to deliver a new government by October 12 and the caucus meeting was part of the work to meet that target. He will hold preliminary talks with National leader Bill English and Labour leader Jacinda Ardern later this week - likely on Thursday. However, he has refused to start in-depth talks until after more than 300,000 special votes are counted on Saturday.
That leaves just five days before he believes he can deliver his decision.
He said there was no reason that could not be done. "That's the target date. We think it's possible and we are just going through all the work we need to do in preparation for that."
Initial talks between NZ First and National and Labour are expected to start this week, possibly on Thursday - Peters has a funeral to attend tomorrow.
Peters walked through Wellington Airport this morning surrounded by waiting media and a short time after Labour leader Jacinda Ardern ran the same gauntlet.
Ardern had earlier conceded it would be difficult to form a Government unless Labour or the Green Party gains more seats after special votes are counted on Saturday.
"You would want a more comfortable majority," Ardern told Radio NZ.
Asked if 61 seats would be enough to be in Government, Ardern said she was "seeking additional comfort beyond that range".
"But 61 still enables us to have those talks. To still be in the frame."
In preliminary results National won 58 seats, Labour and the Greens won 52 combined, and New Zealand First won 9.
In a 120-seat Parliament in which 61 is required for a majority, Labour plus the Greens and New Zealand First have only 61.
The special votes - some 15 per cent of the total - usually favour the Greens and Labour. They will be released this Saturday.
Green Party leader James Shaw told media yesterday that talk of a Green-National deal was "noise and no signal".
"Our job is to form a new government with the Labour Party. That's what I said on election night, that's what I campaigned on for the last 18 months."
Shaw believed there was a high chance of a Labour-NZ First-Green Government and said he wasn't worried about being locked out by NZ First in a repeat of 2005.
"A lot has changed in the last 12 years."
Peters' options range from a full coalition inside Cabinet, a support agreement offering confidence and supply in return for some ministerial posts outside Cabinet, to sitting on the cross benches offering support on a case-by-case basis in return for minimal policy gains.
Both Labour and National are likely to push for a greater commitment than the cross benches to ensure stability.
Ardern will this morning meet with Pike River families, and attend celebrations for the World Cup-winning Black Ferns in Wellington. Her schedule is free on Thursday, except for the Silver Ferns match that night.