Co-leader of the Green Party Metiria Turei has admitted her attack on NZ First leader Winston Peters was highly premeditated.
Last week Ms Turei called Mr Peters "racist", and in response he warned there would be consequences.
The conflict comes at a time where the relationship between the Greens and NZ First is looking more crucial than ever, with both parties set to hold their annual conferences this weekend.
Speaking on The Nation on Saturday morning, Ms Turei defended calling Mr Peters racist, saying his party's policies concern her - and that Mr Peters is aware of this.
She said "a great deal of consideration" went into the timing, and the Labour Party was told in advance.
Mr Peters said the Green Party has "form" for making attacks on NZ First right before elections.
"The last election, 2014, in the closing five weeks the Greens attacked the Labour Party three times on the double deputy leadership and on the finance portfolio, and also on David Parker's calculations as to their fiscals.
"I thought that was dramatically bad news and I said so back then, so this doesn't surprise me at all. But it does put to lie the theory… that the alternative government is Labour-Greens. We all know that now today, that is not a fact.
"There's a three-way fight going on here between Labour, and a combination of the Greens, the National Party and NZ First."
Happy to work with Winston
Despite the divisions, she said the Greens would work with NZ First, "but only if their worst excesses are curbed by a strong green hand".
She said she would be happy to serve in a Government with Mr Peters as Deputy Prime Minister.
"If it means being in a Government with Winston, I would do everything I can to make that happen."
She said she would try to be pragmatic with Mr Peters and overlook his "racism".
Asked why she wouldn't make concessions to work with National, she said the Greens tried in 2008 and again in 2011 but they refused, "so it's up to them".
But propping up a National Government is now off the table because of their societal neglect, she says.
Mr Peters said he wouldn't forget Ms Turei's comments about his racism - which she brushed off as "just Winston language".
She said they have some things in common and haven't had a conversation face-to-face since she made the comments.