Election 2023: Winston Peters agrees coalition talks in 'final stages', denies snubbing National, ACT

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters agrees with National that coalition negotiations are in their "final stages". 

He's also denying he snubbed National and ACT on Tuesday by not showing up to Wellington where it was thought the three parties may be having their first three-way meeting. ACT leader David Seymour on Tuesday morning signalled that was on the cards

Peters spoke to media as he entered the Cordis Hotel in Auckland on Thursday, the site of the latest round of coalition discussions and where National's brain trust was based earlier in the day

He briefly stopped to speak with reporters and said there was "substantial" progress and that he believed negotiations were in their final stages, something National leader Christopher Luxon said was the case on Thursday morning. 

But he wouldn't speculate about how much longer the talks could go on. He said it was in "the hands of others as well".  

"I am saying to the public what I need to say to the public, which is, until we know what the final outcome is that it would be premature, rash and irresponsible to make any other comment, but don't let that stop you." 

Peters said there had been work "night and day" and parties would try resolve it "with the greatest haste possible".  

Asked what issues the leaders were working through, Peters said: "Take a wild guess."

The veteran politician wouldn't answer whether he been offended by a deal put to New Zealand First last week by National. Newsroom reported a source on Tuesday as saying he had appeared "pretty offended" and that he left Wellington not long after seeing it.  

He hasn't returned to Wellington since last Friday. It was expected he would be there earlier this week - his caucus has been in the party's offices - but he never showed up. 

Peters denied him not flying to Wellington was a snub against National and ACT. He said he had received a request from a Foreign Affairs Minister of another country to meet on their way from the Pacific Islands Forum to APEC. 

"He wanted to see me in Auckland, so I had to cancel five flights to fit in with him. I was never going to Wellington, that consequence, and both Mr Seymour and Mr Luxon know that." 

He said his caucus was doing their own work in Wellington. 

On Tuesday morning, Seymour was asked upon flying into Wellington whether all three parties - National, ACT and New Zealand First - could get around the table on Tuesday.  

"I think that is very possible," he replied. "We are certainly very happy to meet anyone anytime and we are all in Wellington now, so that has got to make it easier... There may well be a meeting of three." 

On Tuesday night, both Luxon and Seymour flew back to Auckland and denied any issues. All three then met on Wednesday.

Earlier on Thursday, Luxon said the potential coalition partners are "pretty close" to reaching a deal.  

"We want to make sure that we get a strong and stable government for New Zealand. So we are making great progress," Luxon said. "We're in the final stages.

"But today is a day where we're going to spend this morning with the National team, just processing our conversations from yesterday. And then we'll look to do some meetings in the afternoon."   

National deputy leader Nicola Willis said there has been "some thinking" about ministerial roles. 

While the focus has been on policy, there has been consideration of "who are the leaders that are in place to deliver those policies", she said. 

Luxon has previously said he expected policy to be addressed first in negotiations and portfolios later.