They are the most important political talks in 21 years - but finding a secure spot may prove difficult.

A week after the election, the kingmaker Winston Peters has still made no contact with caretaker Prime Minister Bill English or Labour leader Jacinda Ardern to set up meetings.

No dates have been set, no invitations sent - and no secure rooms booked.

The last time Peters' New Zealand First Party ran coalition talks with two parties, 1996, it choose a secure, windowless room on the 10th floor of Bowen House, which now accommodates the Office of Clerk.

The first room had been booked by National, on neutral territory on the ground floor of the Parliamentary Library, but was deemed unsuitable by Peters.

He feared that because its windows faced on to the busy Hill St, it was vulnerable to the negotiations being bugged from outside.


Given what's at stake, there is likely to be similar concern this time around. This is the most wide open election in terms of a result since 1996; in the intervening years the results have reasonably been clear.

Potential coalition parties are being kept in the dark about Peters' plans but NZ First president Brent Catchpole does not believe anything will happen before the special votes are counted.

They will be announced next Saturday. There is still the potential to begin talks before then although Peters considered that question to be unreasonable when asked at his press conference last week.

National won 58 seats, Labour and the Greens won 52 combined, and New Zealand First won 9.

In a 120 seat Parliament in which 61 is required for a majority, Labour and the Greens and New Zealand First have only 61. The special votes - some 15 per cent of the total - usually favour the Greens and Labour.

Peters said through a spokesman yesterday that he would not be making any comment until after those specials are counted.

The 72-year-old has set a deadline of October 12 to make a decision, giving him only four working days.

Catchpole said the party board would be involved in discussions about the negotiations but it was entirely up to caucus to decide when to start them.

The caucus is due to meet again on Tuesday.

One theory is that the tight timeframe will allow Peters to conduct the talks like a closed tender house auction.

That would force both National and Labour to present their best offers immediately, knowing they might not get another chance to negotiate.

NZ First would be free to accept or refuse their offers on the spot or refer them back for suggested improvements.

It wpould also minimise the chance for critics to accuse Peters of making outrageous demands, as the two big parties would be forced to anticipate his policy prizes and offer at least some without any prompting.

NZ First highlighted four policies in a glossy leaflet drop in the last week of the campaign - immigration, foreign ownership, middle income New Zealand, and regional development.

The cost of National's concessions to NZ First in 1996 was huge, including $5 billion for the removal of the means-tested surcharge on superannuation.

Many of the party's priorities this time round could also be expensive, particularly some of the road and rail projects and moving container operations from Auckland to Northport.