Bill English reaches out to Winston Peters

Bill English has wasted little time in reaching out to New Zealand First leader Winston Peters during his election night speech.

Mr English addressed thousands of jubilant National Party supporters at Sky City in Auckland, after his party claimed 46.1 percent of the provisional party vote in the 2017 Election.

"Ladies and gentlemen what a campaign! The voters have spoken and now we have the responsibility of working to give New Zealand a strong and stable Government," he said.

Mr English revelled in his party's success, talking up the size of its vote, while also having kind words for his main opponent Jacinda Ardern and Labour.

"Just short of half of all New Zealanders voted National and 10 percent more than our nearest rivals.

"But it's not so much the numbers that matter but that expression of confidence in the direction of this proud and confident small country.

"As you know on tonight's provisional results, National has won more seats that Labour and the Greens combined. No one expected that just three weeks ago, but of course it's clear neither National or Labour can form a Government on their own.

"I want to congratulate Jacinda Ardern and Labour on their result and thank them for a hard fought and competitive campaign."

Mr English then reached out to the man who will be pivotal in forming a National-led Government in the coming days.

"I want to acknowledge the strong performance of Winston Peters and New Zealand First.

"Voters of New Zealand have given New Zealand First a role in forming the next Government. In the next few days we will begin discussions with New Zealand First in finding common ground and most importantly forming the kind of Government that will allow New Zealand to get on with the success.

"It is important that we are given the opportunity to move quickly to form a stable Government."

Mr English now needs the support of New Zealand First and Mr Peters if he is to form a Government, after long-time partners the Maori Party did not make it back into Parliament.

Labour would get a coalition Government just over the line with the support of NZ First and the Greens.

Mr Peters, 72, now holds all the cards and will seek a suitable role with either National or Labour.