Senior New Zealand First minister Shane Jones is sounding upbeat about working with National in the future, saying he's getting "good vibrations" from its new leader, Todd Muller.

He also said Labour had given his party the "cold shoulder" when it came to the prospects of an election deal in Northland.

The relationship between NZ First and National has been tense ever since Winston Peters decided to form a coalition with Labour – this essentially pitted the parties against each other.

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Peters has been relentlessly negative about former National leader Simon Bridges. He has publicly mocked his accent and taken numerous pot-shots at his leadership.

Earlier this year, Bridges said his caucus had publicly ruled out a post-election deal with the party.

"I don't believe we can work with NZ First and have a constructive trusting relationship," Bridges said at the time.

But in his first press conference as leader, Muller left the door open for reversing this call.

Speaking to RNZ this morning, Jones appeared to be optimistic about the prospect of working with National under Muller's leadership.

"I don't know if he's a beach boy but I do sense coming from [him], good vibrations in contrast to Paula and Simon".

Asked to elaborate, Jones said he meant that the "vibrations are a lot better" – in other words, there appears to be less animosity.

He said there was a lot of "animus" from National towards his party under Bridges.


"Simon Bridges, unfortunately, had personalised his dislike of the New Zealand First party and I suspect that the current leader is going to take his time and work in a more effective fashion realising that rule 101 in politics is you have to learn to count," Jones said this morning.

Jones is highly likely to run in the Northland electorate.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has already ruled out not standing a Labour candidate in the electorate to give Jones a better shot at winning.

Asked about this, Jones said: "The latest signs from the Prime Minister [are that] it's a cold shoulder to New Zealand First in Northland".

But he said that was "Labour's call".

"What National do in Northland – it's all part of the exciting algebra that's going to grow as we count down the 120 days."