Jacinda Ardern says preliminary election results show a preference against the status quo and has suggested she could move on Labour's planned water tax in order to woo Winston Peters.
The Labour leader spoke to the AM Show on Tuesday to discuss what will be on the table in talks with New Zealand First.
Ms Ardern said she is confident about her chances of forming a coalition government despite getting fewer votes than National.
National received 46 percent of the vote on election night, while Labour got 35.8 percent and the Green Party 5.9 percent. New Zealand First currently holds the balance of power with 7.5 percent of the party vote.
"I absolutely acknowledge that Bill English as a major party took a larger portion of votes, however at the same time New Zealanders voted against the status quo and so there's also therefore an obligation on our side to undertake those discussions," Ms Ardern said.
Mr English was quick off the mark, saying he will aim to speak to Mr Peters this week to try and secure a coalition deal.
While Ms Ardern is yet to formally meet Mr Peters, she is making it clear Labour would not support a referendum on the Māori seats, but suggested she may be willing to move on other policies.
When pressed on a water tax, Ms Ardern suggested she was open to negotiations.
"I actually think that both parties [Labour and NZ First] have an important focus on wanting to clean up our waterways but there are things that I just want to leave to having a conversation in private, rather than in the public domain."
Negotiations are expected to take some time though, with special votes not expected back until October 7th.