Today is probably definitely the day.

If it isn't, it will probably definitely be tomorrow.

And if it isn't, that's probably the time to start worrying about any holdup in forming a Government.

But even then, it will only be a matter of time.


Five days negotiating and two days deliberating is not a delay in any language.

There may be a lot of substance to debate if the two agreements with National and Labour are sufficiently equivalent in serious policy concessions.

Much of the outrage over the "waiting" is really displaced frustration that the election delivered New Zealand First any power at all - with or without 7.2 per cent of the vote.

It is clear that Peters has thought very carefully about these talks. That means not just about how to extract maximum leverage from Labour and National but how to get his colleagues to focus on policy and not jobs and Crown limos.

He was surprisingly frank when he told Newstalk ZB this week he did not want his MPs to be discussing the merits of the two parties' agreements with the possibility of ministerial posts on the table.

The danger, he said, is that when people get ahead of themselves and concern themselves with positions and preferment, policy gets sacrificed on the way through.

Any negotiations around ministerial posts have been left to last - until after New Zealand First has made its decision.

If that is the case, New Zealand First will talk ministerial positions only with its partner of choice, and not with both parties.


Even then it won't take long. Negotiations will be only about the number of posts and any major portfolios. Goodwill will be at a premium.

Allocations will be done later in the week between Peters and the preferred Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern or Bill English.

Some decisions make themselves.

By almost all accounts, the choice in 1996 was self-evident because National's agreement was superior to Labour's particularly in ministerial appointments.

The debate behind closed doors is likely to be more robust this time, involving more experienced MPs and long-serving board members who don't consider themselves Winston Peters' poodles.

There may not be long to wait. Probably.