Jacinda Ardern will meet Winston Peters tomorrow to kick off talks to form a new government - and expects to work out what New Zealand First's policy priorities are.
New Zealand First will meet Bill English and his team tomorrow morning before meeting Labour in the afternoon. The meetings will be held on the Parliamentary precinct.
Peters has stressed he wants to wait for the special votes to be announced this Saturday before finalising talks, but has committed to making a decision by next Thursday.
Ardern, who spoke to media after attending a celebration for the World Cup-winning Black Ferns in Wellington, said that timeframe was possible, but in order to meet it tomorrow's talks would need to be meaningful.
"I think it is absolutely possible to do it within that timeframe. But it does mean those preliminary discussions are very important.
"These are preliminary talks and I want to put emphasis on that - the special votes remain important. But having this preliminary discussion means we will be able to move quickly once those special votes come in."
Ardern will be joined by deputy leader Kelvin Davis and other senior MPs. She said phone calls were being made to work out who could make it to Wellington. That group could include former MP Annette King, who brings a wealth of experience and accompanied Ardern throughout the campaign.
"I'll be making sure that I bring those who are able to make sure that we shape policy priorities together," Ardern said.
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 and 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.
Ardern said she was hopeful the Labour-Greens bloc would pick up at least one extra seat.
"I think it is fair to assume that we will see a one seat uplift. I believe the Greens are probably closer to bring in one more. But it is really speculative. We know we have 50,000 more special votes than we had last time. It will be interesting to see where they fall.
"Having a bit of extra comfort would certainly be helpful. But we should also keep in mind the numbers that National have worked on in the last several terms of Government. At any given time they have required ... a supply and confidence agreement to get their legislation through. So a small buffer is not unusual in New Zealand."
Ardern was asked about possible shared policy goals such as increasing the minimum wage and opposition to the TPP trade deal.
"There are some shared values, and not least changing away from the status quo that we have had for the past nine years. But all of those discussions we will be leaving to the negotiating table," she said.
"I see a lot of commonality between both parties ... I don't want to presume what will be a hurdle."
Peters met his caucus this morning, continuing in-house discussions that took up most of yesterday. This afternoon he will attend the funeral of party stalwart Joyce Robertson in Tauranga.
"We were truly blessed to have someone as exceptional as Joyce in the party - and at 92 she was still working on the election campaign," Peters said.