The post-election battle for Wellington's $6.4b transport future has already begun with National calling for Justin Lester's "political stitch-up" plan to be turfed.

There's a question mark hanging over Let's Get Wellington Moving (LGWM) following the city's cliffhanger election result.

But Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has moved quickly to downplay the issue, saying that the council has already made its decision and it's only up for negotiations "around the margins".

Outgoing mayor Justin Lester was a key supporter of the project as it is, but incoming mayor Andy Foster wants a new deal.

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On the campaign trail Foster promised if he was elected he would call on the region's mayors and other key players like the Wellington Chamber of Commerce to join him in demanding LGWM be re-sequenced.

National list MP Nicola Willis says Wellington's new mayor has a clear mandate to go back to the negotiation table with the Government. Photo / Mark Mitchell.
National list MP Nicola Willis says Wellington's new mayor has a clear mandate to go back to the negotiation table with the Government. Photo / Mark Mitchell.

National's Transport spokesman Chris Bishop said Foster had a mandate from the people of Wellington for a second Mt Victoria tunnel, whereas Lester campaigned on the deal he did with the Government and lost.

"The Government needs to heed the very clear message sent by the people of Wellington that Phil Twyford's dodgy deal with Justin Lester and Julie Anne Genter should be dead", he said.

The deal was a "political stitch-up" considering the Labour Party was both in the Beehive and at the head of Wellington City Council's table during the project's negotiations, Bishop said.

At her post-Cabinet press conference today, Ardern shot down the idea that the project was up for substantive change, but would not be drawn on details such as what she thought about the second Mt Victoria tunnel.

"Ultimately though the plan around LGWM has taken several years to produce and was supported I believe unanimously, including by the new mayor.

"But if he wishes to have a discussion with the Minister of Transport around the margins of that plan, then he is most welcome to do so. But changing wholeheartedly that plan, which as I said the last council supported and which took a number of years to develop, would be quite disruptive."

Wellington-based National list MP Nicola Willis said LGWM was a key factor in the election result and it was clear people wanted a second tunnel sooner rather than later.

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"This is an absolute moment of hope. Andy Foster has a clear mandate to go back to the negotiation table with the Government."

Wellington's new mayor Andy Foster was elected by a margin of 503 votes. Photo / Georgina Campbell.
Wellington's new mayor Andy Foster was elected by a margin of 503 votes. Photo / Georgina Campbell.

Transport Minister Phil Twyford congratulated Foster on his win and said he looked forward to working together.

Once Foster had a chance to sit down with his new council and the regional council elected a new chair, he'd be happy to meet about LGWM, Twyford said.

Twyford pointed out the indicative package was supported unanimously by the city council Foster was a sitting councillor on.

"LGWM is a ground-breaking opportunity to give Wellington rapid transit, fix the gridlock and tackle climate change", Twyford said.

Foster is confident he will have regional support to bring forward a second Mt Victoria tunnel and at least majority support from his councillors.

He said the major problem the Government had with prioritising mass rapid transit was asking local government to spent $1b of ratepayers' money on it.

Coupled with current rates rise projections and what would be needed to revitalise Civic Square, Foster said the city was staring down the barrel of an 80 per cent rates rise.

"That's not affordable and something's got to go."

When asked what would happen if the Government said no to Foster's call for a new deal, he said he'd cross that bridge when he came to it.

Foster couldn't rule out the fact his plan might fall apart but in the same breath said the current plan could too.

Meanwhile Ardern seemed to make a mistake by saying Lester had run as an independent.

She later said that she meant that Lester didn't overtly run as a Labour candidate.

"My reference there in terms of the way he branded himself in the campaign wasn't overt in that regard."

She said she did not see his loss as a reflection of a dip in support for Labour nationally, despite a poll last night from Newshub-Reid Research showing Labour dropping by about 10 percentage points.

"Our local campaigns are very local. It will be a reflection on what's happened in that contest."