NZ First may hold the balance of power in the 2017 General Election, but leader Winston Peters has lost his battle to retain the Northland electorate.
With all votes counted, Mr Peters was on 12,394 votes, lagging 1292 votes behind National's Mike King.
Mr Peters won the electorate in a by-election earlier this year, after National's Mike Sabin stood down.
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Still, NZ First's 7.5 percent return in the party vote has made Mr Peters the key player to emerge from election night and speaking from Russell, he said "We don't have all the cards, but we do have the main cards."
He invited the audience - and media - to be patient about who he forms a coalition with.
"If we hear that [question] one more time we'll be advocating a change in our political system," Mr Peters said.