Key Points:

John Key hopes to form a Government before the special votes are counted so he can travel to the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (Apec) forum to represent New Zealand at the end of the month.

Mr Key's National Party cut deals before the election to form a coalition with Act and United Future. The three parties, together, won 65 seats - enough to give them a majority in a 122-seat Parliament.

Over 208,000 people placed special votes - for those unable to vote in their own electorate on election day or whose names are not on the printed electoral roll - in this year's election.

The deadline for special votes to be in the hands of returning officers is 10 days after election day.

However, the votes will not be formally reported until November 22 when the Apec leaders meeting is scheduled to begin in Lima, Peru.

At a media conference in Auckland this afternoon, Mr Key said the special votes would make little difference to the make-up of Parliament.

He said he wanted to represent New Zealand at Apec, where the world financial crisis will be discussed by world leaders.

He said his understanding was that leaders representing their country at Apec must be sworn in but the time-frame of the NZ elections meant the final election result would not be known by then.

"In theory, if you were to go to Apec, you would need to travel on Tuesday the 18th," Mr Key said.

"We think it would be in the best interests of the new government if we could attend and if, as Prime Minister, if I was able to attend that meeting but obviously we would need to work through in the spirit of co-operation with the existing Government to see if that is possible. At this stage I am not sure," Mr Key said.

Economy 'centre stage'

He said under a National led Government, the economy would take front and centre stage.

Mr Key said National would seek reports from Treasury and the Reserve Bank on the state of the economy this week.

He said an update from Treasury was due in December and he had been told that the figures had deteriorated. Mr Key said he would happy for Labour to view the updates as part of a bi-partisan move to address the financial crisis.

Mr Key said Helen Clark's office had been in touch, via a text message, to say that they wanted to provide a smooth transition between the old and new governments.

In brief

* National secured 45.5% of party vote
* National won 59 seats, Act 5 (up from 2) and United Future 1 - a 65 seat majority
* Labour won 33.8% of the party vote and 43 seats
* Helen Clark resigned as Labour Party leader
* The Greens were the only minor party to cross 5% threshold with 6.4% of party vote
* Unsuccessful Tauranga candidate Winston Peters resigned after NZ First failed to reach 5%
* The Maori Party won five of seven Maori seats - up one from last Parliament
* Auckland swung most strongly towards National and Wellington the least. National took Christchurch from Labour for the first time since at least 1996
* Labour also dropped in the provincial seats

Act and United Future

The first of National's major talks are expected to be with Act which polled 3.72 per cent of the party vote - up on their 2005 results.

Rodney Hide's electorate success in Epsom boosted the party's numbers in Parliament from two to five, including the party founder Sir Roger Douglas.

Rodney Hide said he had had no substantial negotiations about what role he and Act might play in a future National-led government but he would meet Key, a meeting likely to be held today.

Act's leader Rodney Hide is likely to seek responsibility in Cabinet for local government, and for a regulatory review of red tape.

Mr Key said this afternoon that he would meet with Mr Hide and United Future leader Peter Dunne tomorrow.

He also re-iterated that he intended to form a centrist Government and that meant no cabinet post for Sir Roger.

Mr Key said he had ruled-out any possibility that Sir Roger would be given a cabinet post.

"I had preliminary discussions with Rodney Hide before the election and I said it was not palatable or tenable to have Roger Douglas in cabinet. I made it clear on the campaign trail that I would lead a centre-right Government that was moderate and I do not believe it is compatible to have Roger Douglas in cabinet," Mr Key said.

Mr Key said he would also meet Mr Dunne, tomorrow, Mr Dunne remains in Parliament as a one-man band - but has also been guaranteed a seat in Cabinet, should he want it.

He is being tipped to continue as revenue minister, a role he has performed for Helen Clark, and rejected speculation that he would accept the role of Speaker.

Maori Party role

The Maori Party was today also set to gather in Auckland to discuss how it could have a relationship with the new Government.

Mr Key said he would meet with the Maori Party on Tuesday.

He said it would be his preference to have 70 votes in all when combining the National-led Government with confidence and supply partners. For that he would need the support of the Maori Party.

He has previously said: "Because I've always argued I want to build a long-term government and I believe that we actually can have a relationship with the Maori Party which long term can be very important for National."

Co-leader Pita Sharples said the Maori Party would consider all their options before going into talks with other parties, despite the fact National does not need them to govern.

"And then we will offer our portfolio to them and say 'that's us - and what do you reckon?'

"And get a response from them, because we want them to want us."

Dr Sharples has said he remains hopeful of a ministerial position for the party.

Greens

Meanwhile, a stronger Green Party are intending to flex as much muscle as they can to advance their causes despite being shut, yet again, out of Parliament.

They are getting down to business early with a caucus meeting tomorrow todiscuss portfolios and logistics such as staff.

Last night the Greens returned with 6.5 per cent of the party vote which gave them two additional MPs, bringing the total to eight.

"We'll look forward into next year and how we are going to approach the incoming National-ACT government," Greens co-leader Russel Norman said this afternoon.

"Obviously we'll be constructive where there are opportunities to be constructive but we will also be a strong voice in opposition where they do things that we think are detrimental to New Zealand."

- NZHERALD STAFF