Election 2023 live updates: Coalition talks appear to be drawing to close as National MPs fly back to Wellington

Coalition negotiations appear to be drawing to a close, though the deputy Prime Minister role appears to be a major sticking point.

MPs from the three parties involved in talks - National, ACT and New Zealand First - have flown to Wellington on Wednesday but are denying it's a sign an agreement has been reached, though they have said that's close.

National leader Christopher Luxon flew to Wellington on Wednesday night and planned to continue working into the night to get a deal sorted.

He earlier admitted there were still a "couple" of issues holding up the process, with one being the deputy Prime Minister role.

At the airport later, he said some progress had been made in the hours since his comments and a deal was "really close".

ACT leader David Seymour wants the deputy role - having publicly pitched for it - while Winston Peters has remained tight-lipped. He's been the deputy Prime Minister twice before.

National's deputy Nicola Willis has ruled herself out.

Willis and fellow National MP Chris Bishop flew back to Wellington from Auckland on Wednesday morning. New Zealand First's Shane Jones was on an afternoon flight into the capital, while Seymour and ACT MPs Brooke van Velden and Nicole McKee were among those returning in the evening. 

Follow Newshub's live updates below. App users should click here.

10:10pm - Christopher Luxon has touched down in Wellington and reiterated that negotiating parties are "in the final stages".

"We made some more progress this afternoon and this evening," Luxon said.

"We have got to close it out now and bring it home for New Zealand."

He said he would be making more phone calls on Wednesday night and Thursday. 

Luxon said he is on the way to the office and isn't sure if he will speak with David Seymour or Winston Peters on Wednesday night.

The incoming Prime Minister said the ministerial appointments are largely sorted. He wouldn't comment on who the deputy Prime Minister could be.

He repeated that he was coming to Wellington due to logistics and the recent flight challenges.

10:05pm - A new Talbot Mills Research poll released to Newshub reveals 33 percent of respondents believe New Zealand First leader Winston Peters is most to blame for long the coalition negotiations are taking.

The poll, taken between November 17 and 22, shows 33 percent think Peters is most to blame, 24 percent think it's Christopher Luxon and just 4 percent think David Seymour. There are 40 percent who are unsure. The basis of this sample is 155 nationally representative respondents.

It also reveals 66 percent of people think negotiations are taking too long, which is up 6 percent from a Talbot Mills Research poll between November 10 and 16. The percentage who don't believe it's taking too long is 19 percent (down 2 percentage points), and those unsure is 16 percent (down 3 percentage points). This most recent poll's basis of the sample is 567 nationally representative respondents.

9:45pm - Judith Collins has arrived in Wellington.

Asked if it was 'Attorney General Judith Collins', the National MP replied "just stop that right now."

"I am here for some meetings outside of Parliament tomorrow that have nothing to do with the coalition."

She said the meetings were in the tech area.

8:20pm - National leader Christopher Luxon is on his way to Wellington, having just arrived at Auckland Airport.

"We are getting really close. We made more progress over the course of the afternoon and this evening," he said.

Asked about whether he had sorted the deputy Prime Minister role, he said: "We will have more to say about that shortly."

"We really are very close and we are just in the final stages."

He said further discussions could be had in Wellington.

Luxon said he was going to Wellington for "logistics reasons".

He has previously signalled he would fly to the capital once he was ready to make an announcement about a Government.

However, flight disruptions over the past two days in Wellington have meant politicians have looked to secure any flight they can into the city - and this doesn't mean a deal has been reached.

Christopher Luxon arrives at Auckland Airport.
Christopher Luxon arrives at Auckland Airport. Photo credit: Newshub.

8pm - National MP and likely incoming minister Judith Collins has just arrived at Auckland Airport.

She told waiting media her trip to Wellington had nothing to do with the coalition negotiations.

"I have two meetings outside of Parliament actually, nothing to do with coalition," she said.

Collins said she trusted Christopher Luxon's decisions. Collins was the National Party leader prior to Luxon.  

Judith Collins
Judith Collins Photo credit: Newshub.

7:45pm - As we wait for answers about the formation of the next Government, so too does the Coalition Cauliflower. It's lasted 19 days since the final election results were revealed.

Check in on how it's going here.

6:55pm - David Seymour has just touched down in Wellington.

"We are very rapidly getting into place the final part of what positions people take in the Government," he said.

The ACT leader said he was very pleased the parties were getting close to an announcement.  

Asked if he was happy with decisions made on Wednesday, he replied: "As far as I am aware, no decisions have been made today."  

"We have worked towards getting to the point of having a clear set of positions. There is a Cabinet, there is ministers, and there is people who need to be there. We need to make sure it is the right people to use their times and talents for the good of our nation."

He said his focus has been on policy.

Seymour said he wouldn't say Peters and himself were "fighting" for the deputy Prime Minister role.

"I would describe it as we are putting together a Cabinet so we have the right people in the right place to do the job."

It would be a "very extreme circumstance" for ACT to walk away from negotiations if he doesn't get the deputy Prime Minister role. 

6:30pm - So close and yet so far.  

The dust up over who gets to be deputy Prime Minister is one of the last remaining roadblocks in Christopher Luxon's path to finally forming a coalition Government.    

Soon-to-be Government MPs flew back to Wellington on Wednesday in anticipation of a deal being done. But until the ink hits the paper on coalition agreements, New Zealand waits.

Watch Jenna Lynch's wrap of the day here.

5pm - ACT leader David Seymour is on his way to Wellington.

Speaking to media at Auckland Airport on Wednesday evening, Seymour said he was going to Wellington partly "in case we need to be there because there has been a lot of flight disruptions and we have had to beg, borrow and steal a seat on the plane to get down there".

"It looks like a deal is close enough that we are getting a flight that we can to get down to Wellington. Only in New Zealand, we have got to go down because there has been some fog and it is hard to get a flight."

There was a large number of flight disruptions on Tuesday due to poor weather in Wellington. That has created a significant backlog of flights.

Christopher Luxon has previously said he would like to be in Wellington to make the final Government announcement.

There are still details to work out with the other parties, Seymour said. He was happy with how things were going.

He wouldn't say if he had got the deputy Prime Minister role and denied anyone was holding New Zealand to ransom. The vast majority of the discussions over the past few weeks has been about policy, he said.

Seymour wouldn't rule out sharing the deputy role.

3:30pm - New Zealand First's Shane Jones has arrived back in Wellington.

Asked what had brought him to the city, he said: "It's that point in the journey where us New Zealand First MPs have arrived at the head of the fish hmmm."

He said the "ebb and flow of discussions" had been surrounded by a "cone of silence" and he wouldn't break that.

Jones denied Peters was holding the country to ransom in order to be deputy Prime Minister.

He said he wasn't privy to the intricacy of the deputy PM discussions, but he had been "faithful" to the kaupapa of being confidential.

"Cometh the hour, cometh the man."

He rejected there was "squabbling" between Peters and Seymour for the role.

3:10pm - Feel like you've heard "strong and stable Government", "good progress" and "final stages" a lot recently? You have.

Newshub has compiled a mega montage of "we're making progress", "we're going as quickly as possible", and "strong, stable Government' clips from National, ACT, and New Zealand First MPs over the past few weeks. 

You can watch it here.

2:50pm - Luxon says discussions will go on for long as needed. They will be closed from Auckland, he says. The parties will continue to talk on Wednesday night and into Thursday if necessary.

He says no thought has been given to having a New Zealand Defence Force plane take the political leaders back to Wellington if flight cancellations and the backlog of flights heading into Wellington delay them from getting there.

Luxon continues to be keen to start work earlier next year after the summer holidays than is normal. He tells a journalist that their holidays may be shorter than usual.

He walks off as Newshub asks if the deal will be done by the end of the week.

2:45pm - There is a desire from all parties to make the Government work, Luxon says. He believes they can collaborate and cooperate over the coming years.

He wouldn't say if he will make the final call on the deputy Prime Minister role or if he will leave it to Seymour and Peters to decide it themselves. He notes that they have already worked together on their policy programmes, including meeting with each other separate to conversations with National.

"There is no one holding the country to ransom," he says.

He says MMP requires maturity and the parties involved in the negotiations are trying to ensure a strong and stable Government.

2:40pm - Christopher Luxon says the parties are in the "final stages" of discussions and progress has been made. He says ministerial responsibilities have been largely sorted.

There are a couple of issues to sort out, he says. He says the deputy Prime Minister role is one of a "couple" of issues that needs to be sorted. He refuses to speak further about it.

"We are so close. We have come so, so far."

Luxon said Willis wasn't ever in consideration for deputy Prime Minister. Both had previously agreed that the deputy Prime Minister role would go to a coalition partner.

He says that the parties have agreed to policy programmes, how to operate, and most of the ministerial roles.

He wouldn't say if a co-deputy Prime Minister role between David Seymour and Winston Peters is on the table. He says there are several options.

2:35pm - National leader Christopher Luxon is expected to speak to media near his Auckland home at about 2:45pm. Newshub will stream that above.

12:50pm - National deputy leader Nicola Willis has revealed she isn't in the race to be deputy Prime Minister.

"I'm not in the race... I am not interested in roles and titles. I am interested in the role of governing. Winston, David, they would do a great job as deputy Prime Minister."

Willis said has enjoyed getting to know both of them over the course of negotiations. She wouldn't say who she would prefer.

But she said she would be Finance Minister, as Luxon has previously said.

12:35pm - A number of other MPs have been spotted around Parliament.

National MP and potential incoming minister Louise Upston was heading out to lunch.

Asked if she had heard about getting a ministerial post, she said: "I am sure you will hear what you need to in plenty of time."

New Zealand First's Andy Foster wouldn’t answer any questions about whether his party's caucus had been kept up to date or if he expected Winston Peters to become deputy Prime Minister.

He would only say: "It's a beautiful day."

National's Chris Bishop has also arrived, fresh back from Auckland.

12pm - Nicola Willis has just arrived at Parliament.

Asked if ministerial roles had been sorted yet, she said: "No."

Luxon has previously said Willis will be the next Finance Minister and she said that remained the case.  

Asked if she would be deputy Prime Minister, she said: "I just want a governing arrangement so we can get on and govern."

She said it wasn't up to her to decide how quickly the talks would wrap up, but everyone involved was working hard.  

"There are three leaders who are working very hard on that and I hope it is as soon as possible."

Willis said she would be on the phone to Luxon from Wellington on Wednesday and help where she could.

"I just can't wait for it to get done because I am so eager to get over to that building [the Beehive] to start managing New Zealand's books, to make sure we can deliver tax relief and deliver the change New Zealanders voted for. It can't come soon enough."

11:35am - National's Nicola Willis and Chris Bishop have just flown back into Wellington.

Speaking to media at the airport, National deputy leader Willis said she couldn't provide any update of significance, but wasn't planning to meet with the National caucus on Wednesday and would instead be going home.

"There will be ongoing phone discussions I am sure," she said.

Willis said she was happy for the deputy Prime Minister role to go to either Winston Peters or David Seymour. 

"All I want is a Good Government for New Zealand. I want agreements signed so we can get on and govern."

Bishop said he didn't expect Parliament to return for some days and would be able to advise a date in due course.

"It is not going to be next week," he said.

"There is a variety of things that have to happen for the House to sit."

Bishop said he had run out of clothes and was wearing Luxon's shirt.

He said talks were "progressing well".

Chris Bishop and Nicola Willis.
Chris Bishop and Nicola Willis. Photo credit: Newshub.

11:20am - Kia ora, good morning and welcome to Newshub's live updates of the coalition negotiations. We will bring you updates as they come through.

Newshub understands senior National MPs Nicola Willis and Chris Bishop are flying back to Wellington from Auckland, where coalition negotiations have been happening for the past week.

National leader Christopher Luxon has previously said that the party would return to Wellington once there was something to announce about the next Government.

Newshub understands Luxon is still based in Auckland and is communicating with the other party leaders via phone.

The last remaining piece of the coalition puzzle is deciding on ministerial roles - both how many parties get, and who will get the coveted Deputy Prime Minister role.

On Tuesday, Luxon said ACT and New Zealand First have agreed to the policy programmes each party has with National, with the only remaining issues being ministerial responsibilities. 

"We have made great progress. We have just got to dot some 'i's and cross some 't's on most of the agreement. The only outstanding issues are ministerial responsibilities. We are in conversations with both party leaders about those positions today and late last night."

He said the policy programmes have been closed out with all three parties.

"We have got three parties all agreeing with each other's policy programmes as well and we have now agreed how we are going to operate in Cabinet and how we are going to work together."

One of the sticking points recently appears to have been the deputy Prime Minister role, with a battle emerging between the experience of Winston Peters and the political math of David Seymour's ACT being the second-largest of the three-way potential coalition.