Winston Peters has dismissed the notion that the National Party has any sort of "moral authority" in upcoming coalition negotiations because they are the biggest party.
National received 46 per cent of the vote to Labour's 35.8 per cent, but Peters said what mattered under MMP was gathering the seats needed to form a Government.
"Please don't write the kind of thing that says someone has moral authority. For what? We are not in first-past-the-post here. We are under MMP. I expect the media to catch up after 21 years."
Peters attacked media reports suggesting he was out for revenge against certain figures in National, and also said it wasn't good enough that it would take until October 7 for special votes to be counted.
That could change the number of seats parties have and was therefore crucial to know before negotiations were finalised, Peters said.
"[Special votes] will change things, in my view, that has been our experience in the past, and we want to have regard to that.
"You could point to the Electoral Commission and ask yourself why it is that 384,000 people will not have their vote count until the 7th of October.
"And maybe then...you could say to yourselves, that may be the reason why New Zealand First has to withhold its view, because we don't know yet what the exact, precise voice of the New Zealand people is."
Peters said it was possible he would hold talks before special votes were counted, but on the caveat that things could change considerably once they were counted. He would go to the party membership soon to establish a sense of what the party would prefer in terms of potential coalitions.
Asked if he would stick to a previous indication New Zealand First would have made a decision by October 12, he said he would. A negotiating team was being finalised and would be about seven or eight people, Peters said.
On the potential ways to form a government, Peters said there were nine permutations.
"That's what we have got to face. And each one of them has to be seriously considered."
The New Zealand First leader was in a combative mood, asking journalists why they are asking certain questions.
"I can't talk to you until I know what the 384,000 people who have cast their vote said."
Peters made the comments in a press conference this afternoon in which he spent most of his time attacking media for their reporting, including describing reports that he hated Steven Joyce and others in National as "speculative drivel", "malicious, malignant and vicious in the extreme".
"I don't hate people. And nor do my colleagues hate people...we know we have a bigger responsibility and we are going to fulfil it."
Peters flew into Wellington today and bumped into Joyce in the queue to board the plane.
"The person I'm meant to despise according to one of the media authorities in this country...we had a brief conversation about that of course. He was as understanding of the character of the person that wrote that as I am."
Peters also dismissed speculation in some media that NZ First would want a future electorate deal in Northland, saying it was grubby journalism. "I have never asked for a deal and never will."
The Beehive Theatrette is the setting for the Prime Minister's weekly press conferences but today's was much less structured.
One exchange between Peters and a journalist encapsulated the New Zealand First leader's approach to fielding questions.
Asked what his policy priorities would be, Peters picked up on an accent and asked the journalist where he was from.
"Australia," was the reply. "It shows," Peters said.
On whether he would hold separate talks with the Greens, Peters said the signal from Labour was they wanted to talk to New Zealand First.
"The team that they sided up with has signalled that they want to talk to us alone...it is the outcome that would matter."
Peters dismissed any prospect of a coalition that would include the Act Party, labelling David Seymour "the most expensive beneficiary in the country".
He wasn't keen to talk about whether he knew who leaked his NZ Super information to the media during the election campaign. Peters has previously pointed the finger at National and there has been speculation that could make a deal harder to strike.
"I'm here to talk about...things to do with coalition formation going on. That's what we had a discussion about in caucus today, and that discussion didn't arise," Peters said.
Today's press conference was the last he would hold until after October 7. He was joined by his colleagues including deputy leader Ron Mark, Tracey Martin, Clayton Mitchell and Fletcher Tabuteau.