NZ First's local list MP Fletcher Tabuteau has made it back into Parliament and is ready to start negotiation conversations.

Tabuteau finished third in the race for the Rotorua seat behind winner Todd McClay and second-place getter Ben Sandford.

He finished with 2685 votes, to Sandford's 9114 and McClay's 16,544.

Tabuteau felt third place was expected for the Rotorua electorate but said it was important to keep the bigger picture in mind.

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"I'm really thankful to those who gave me their vote but at the end of the day it was about getting votes for NZ First not myself."

He thought the Rotorua campaign and national campaign for NZ First was a success.

Tabuteau's election gathering was held at Hennessy's Irish Bar on Saturday night where the NZ First Rotorua team and their families celebrated their work during the campaign.

"I'm proud of the team effort both here in Rotorua and across the country, and it was a really good result to retain our position from the last election."

After last night, National currently holds 46 per cent of the counted vote, Labour with 35.8 per cent, NZ First with 7.5 per cent and the Green Party with 5.9 per cent.

NZ First holds a powerful position as they can decide to form a coalition with National or with an expected Labour and Green partnership.

Tabuteau told the Rotorua Daily Post the next few days would be crucial.

"Winston said it himself, it's now time to talk with National and Labour and negotiate the best way of enforcing our policies and getting everything we can for those who voted for us."

Tabuteau will be heading down to Wellington today to prepare for any potential negotiations.

"The plan now is to prepare for any conversations that I may be a part of," he said.

It is estimated that more than 384,000 special votes, which equal 15 per cent of the total vote, are still to be counted.

The official election result is expected to be declared on October 7.