New Zealand election: Nationalist party kingmaker after final vote count released

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It left the power to form a government in the hands of Peters and the nine seats held by his New Zealand First Party.

"Regional development is surely going to figure highly.I think there's no doubt New Zealand First is shifting to be more of a provincial, country party and that the important points are going to be directly related to that development", said Bryce Edwards, political analyst at Critical Politics in Wellington.

The Greens have gained human rights lawyer Golriz Ghahraman, a Syrian refugee. She will also strengthen Labour's presence in the Bay of Plenty.

National Party Leader Bill English says today's result confirmed the National Party is in a strong position as the largest party.

A National/NZ First government would have 65 seats, while a Labour/Greens/NZ First government would have 63 seats.

Winston Peters, the leader of the New Zealand First Party, has kept his cards close to his chest but told local media on Saturday that the release of the final vote count would put them in a better position to make decisions.

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'We will continue our negotiations in earnest with potential support parties, beginning this weekend'.

"The final vote tally shows how this election galvanised people to enrol and vote with the highest turnout since 2005", Ardern said.

But Mr English's main challenger, Labour's Jacinda Ardern, could still form government.

The final September 23 election results confirmed New Zealand First, led by the outspoken and unpredictable Winston Peters, holds the balance of power in the formation of a coalition. The Green Party, at 6.3percent, lost nearly five percentage points on its 2014 tally following a disastrous start to its campaign when co-leader Metiria Turei resigned over self-confessed benefit and electoral system rorts. "Not since 1969 has the National party finished ahead of the Labour opposition at four successive elections, and I want to thank everyone involved in this historic achievement".

Peters, a veteran New Zealand politician who has now held the balance of power three times, has said he would only make a decision on which party to back after the final tally and after the results become official on October 12.

Despite the win, both the National Party and the Labour-Green alliance still lack the 61 seats needed for a parliamentary majority.

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