Election 2023: National keeping tight secrecy on coalition talks as negotiating teams assemble

The incoming Prime Minister welcomed his 23 new National MPs to Parliament today.

It'll take a little longer to welcome them into Government though, as Christopher Luxon can't form one of those until special votes are counted.

But National, ACT and New Zealand First are already assembling their negotiating teams.

On Monday Luxon welcomed his brand-new MPS to Parliament for a photo shoot. A slew of new Nats standing in line means there's a lot to keep in line

There was an excellent first-day lesson from the new boss - the incoming Prime Minister.

"Really exciting day for the National Party with 23 new MPs coming to Parliament," Luxon said.

The MPs are new to everything - even where to park

"We're just learning the ropes aye, getting started, supporting the team," said new MP Carl  Bates.

But despite all these newbies, National needs more teams to get over the line to Government and that means negotiations.

"We're conscious there's 570,000 special votes that still need to be counted and respected and there's a whole bunch of dynamics at play within the special votes that may be different or maybe the same as previously, so we've got to wait for that dynamic to play through in the next three weeks," Luxon said.

And working through the next weeks in limbo land is Luxon's self-titled 'Brains Trust'. That consists of Luxon - obviously - then his numbers two and three, Nicola Willis and Chris Bishop. There's Paul Goldsmith, Todd McClay - who is a mate of Winston Peters, Simeon Brown, National Party president Sylvia Wood, chief of staff Cam Burrows and strategist Jo de Joux.

"Gotta be respectful to these two other parties, ACT and NZ First. Christopher Luxon [is] pretty clear we want to build a strong relationship based on trust, and there will be some opportunities over the next week or two to do that," McClay said.

In ACT's corner will be leader David Seymour, his deputy Brooke van Velden, chief of staff Andrew Ketels, a yet-to-be-determined board member and a legal representative.

"There is as much negotiating about negotiating, but we will get there," Seymour said.

"Again I'm just not going to be discussing it," Luxon said.

But even with blue and pink teams combined, that would only just get a Government across the line with one seat. And that could change with special votes, so enter New Zealand First.

"We've coming back into Parliament and that's an exciting feeling," said Shane Jones.

Winston Peters will head up negotiations and at his side will likely be Jones, former MP and now staffer Darroch Ball, and possibly others.

"We need to understand what's the full nature of the special votes. It's a little big like a hangi. First you get the stones red-hot," Jones said.

"I've watched New Zealand elections play out over many years, I've been pretty unimpressed with the process," Luxon said.

Keeping mum, so expect to hear a lot about not much over the next few weeks in limbo land.

What happens next? Amelia Wade explains

Christopher Luxon has said that negotiations will be happening individually with ACT and NZ First so that will avoid an awkward three-way where they all hammer out the details together in a room.

But National is really keen to keep a lid on the goings-on and doesn't even want to see reports of what biscuits leaders are taking to negotiations like we've seen in other years. Luxon is even refusing to say who's on his negotiating team.

But we do understand ACT wants to focus discussions on cutting spending, cutting regulation and redefining the role of the Treaty - however Luxon is continuing to rule out a referendum.

Also up for negotiation is who gets the role of deputy prime minister. ACT could be prepared to let National offer NZ First so that ACT can get more policy wins.