A former New Zealand First MP wants the party to back Labour - saying a large number of voters clearly want change and a decision must account for the party's long-term survival.
Pita Paraone, who served as an MP from 2002 until 2008, and from 2014 until this election, has on the eve of a final NZ First meeting to decide the next Government thrown his support behind a deal with Labour.
"Personally, I feel the winds of change," he told the Herald. "I think the decision they must make is one that will also ensure the future of New Zealand First. And I think one of the things they have got to consider is people quite clearly want change."
Paraone said while National was easily the biggest party, a majority of voters didn't support it. He said leader Winston Peters and others in today's crucial meeting would be thinking about what each option meant for the long-term future of the party.
Peters would remember 1996 when NZ First eventually backed the incumbent National Party, Paraone said.
"New Zealand First certainly paid for that in 1999. And that time in 1996 people were asking for a change, too. In fact a lot of people supported New Zealand First in anticipation of that change."
NZ First was in a no-win situation, with "a lot of anguish" no matter what option was agreed upon.
"Should National end up in opposition, they would then spend most of the time planning to get rid of New Zealand First and its leader."
NZ First has said it is yet to agree on a governing framework. Possibilities include full coalition with ministerial positions inside Cabinet, a support agreement with ministers outside Cabinet and a confidence and supply agreement from the cross benches.
Another NZ First MP who missed out on a return after the election, Richard Prosser, said he believed a full coalition with ministerial positions inside Cabinet would be the wrong option.
"Collective Cabinet responsibility means you pretty much get forced to support bits of the other party's agenda that you otherwise might not."
Prosser said he believed NZ First would go with the left bloc if possible.
"Getting a fourth term is one thing. Getting a fifth term for the Nats is highly unlikely. And when they go down, if you are too closely associated with them then you may well go down as well.
"As far as the longevity of the party is concerned, I don't think they should take any ministerial portfolios. Because either choice is fraught with risk - on the National side that they don't come back for a fifth term ... the risk on the left side is the inherent instability of having the Greens there.
"Either way, if you take the portfolios then you are associated with that government. And if that government fails, you tend to fail with it."
Prosser acknowledged not taking portfolios could disappoint some NZ First MPs, and that could cause room for instability down the track.
Mahesh Bindra, another of the five outgoing NZ First MPs, said he didn't have a view on whether NZ First should side with National or Labour. He said NZ First followed a democratic process and a collective decision would be taken at today's board and caucus meeting.
"My experience has been even when my view has differed, once a collective democratic position has been taken then I have always stuck with it."