United Future leader Peter Dunne says he could play a pivotal role in a challenging new Parliament after he held on to his Ohariu seat with an increased majority.
The 27-year veteran of the northern Wellington electorate has taken the seat by 1646 votes from Labour's Charles Chauvel, up from his lead of 1006 votes at the 2008 election.
Mr Dunne told a jubilant crowd of about 30 supporters at the Capital Gateway Motel in suburban Newlands that the night was one of celebration following a remarkable, gruelling and challenging campaign.
"This new Parliament is going to be a challenging one, and we're certainly going to be there with our one vote playing a role which could yet be a pivotal one,'' he said.
Mr Dunne's win comes after a nod from National, which campaigned only for the party vote. Its candidate, Katrina Shanks, had earlier indicated she would seek to win the seat, but was quickly pulled back in to line by her party.
Mr Dunne has held the Ohariu seat in various forms since 1984, and this year campaigned on his track record, developing the Northern Wellington Festival, and reinvigorating local residents' associations.
His majority has slipped over the past few elections and this year he faced stiff competition from Mr Chauvel, who campaigned hard on local issues like better public transport and more parks and sports facilities.
Mr Dunne said he took stock after the last election and put in a lot of effort to reconnect with local communities and become more visible and active.
"I think that's paid a dividend tonight.''
Mr Dunne was Revenue Minister and Associate Health Minister after the 2008 election, both positions outside Cabinet as part of his agreement with National.
It was too soon say what role he would play in a future government, he said.
"The shape of the new government has to be determined, I imagine we'll have some discussions in the next few days about all of that and we'll see what happens from there,'' he told APNZ.
"The prime minister has made it clear he wants to run an inclusive operation so I'm happy to talk to him and see what happens.''
Mr Dunne said United Future had not received the party vote result it was seeking, getting less than 1 percent, but had "kept the flame burning''.
He will again be the party's only representative in Parliament.
During his time in Parliament, Mr Dunne has overseen the first business tax cuts in two decades, worth $3.4 billion, and a ban on the sale of synthetic cannabis products like Kronic.