Winston Peters has remained coy about the future of New Zealand First amid election results putting the party below the 5 percent threshold.
As of 9:40pm on election night 58 percent of the votes have been counted and New Zealand First was on 2.5 percent.
The party is not on track to win any electorate seats and his political career could be over.
Peters took to the stage at the party's headquarters at the Duke of Marlborough in Russell to thank their volunteers, staff and supporters.
"To those who have been successful tonight, congratulations and best wishes," he said.
"For 27 years there's been one party that's been prepared to question the establishment and challenge authority and tonight more than ever that force is still needed.
"For in any challenge, it is the preparedness to stand up and take on the challenge, win or lose, what really matters.
"And as for our next challenge, you will have to wait and see."
Newshub's political commentators said Peters would be missed if he left politics.
"He's one of those politicians, very divisive at the end, he'd run out of steam, he's 70-something. It was time to go. But I think we will kind of miss him when he's gone," Linda Clark said.
Former Labour politician David Cunliffe said he thought Peters' speech was "dignified".