The NZ First caucus and board have wrapped up two days of discussions with no consensus on whether to back National or Labour.
However, NZ First leader Winston Peters is still confident a decision will still be made by the end of the week, saying policy work is “98 per cent there” with other issues, such as ministerial portfolios, outstanding.
The party’s MPs and board members hunkered down for two full days of talks at its parliamentary office, with Peters and company barely surfacing from Bowen House.
Trays of sandwiches and beverages made their way up, while a fleet of taxis picked up the participants at the end of Monday and Tuesday.
Addressing media shortly before 5pm on Tuesday, Peters said the board was “starting to wind its way home” with some way to go before a decision would be announced.
“We’ve spent a couple of days on very comprehensive discussions and preparations for the party to make a final decision.
‘We’ve got a lot of work done, the board's engagement in term of that work is complete, we’ve got things to finish off as urgently as we can - sorting out differences of calculations and opinions and trying to make sure we’ve got with both sides a clear understanding so that if we do finalise it, we’ll know that we’ve already got the agreement rather than having to go on and write it again.”
The party was “98 per cent there” on the respective policy offerings from the two major parties, but there were other issues that would still need to be discussed with Bill English and Jacinda Ardern before a decision could be made.
“When we think we’ve got the policy wrapped up and every loose end wrapped up, we’ll talk to both sides about what it is that they want and then the discussion will develop from that to take to the NZ First board and caucus.”
Peters confirmed the shape of the next government - whether a coalition, a confidence and supply agreement or something else - was still to be confirmed, with all nine “permutations” on the table “right through to the end”.
He said it was unlikely any further discussions would take place on Tuesday evening, but he still intended to make a decision by the end of the week - although he added: “Of course that’s in other people’s hands, not mine.”