Election 2023: Winston Peters, David Seymour's tussle for deputy one of last roadblocks to Christoper Luxon forming Government

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.  

There was a great homecoming to the capital. National deputy leader Nicola Willis arrived back in Wellington and was asked if her arrival meant a deal was close.   

"I hope so," she replied.    

New Zealand First's Shane Jones returned as well.    

"It's that point in the journey when us New Zealand First MPs arrive at the head of the fish," he said.   

The return was a necessity for some. Willis said fellow National MP Chris Bishop would "look better in a fresh shirt". 

"I have run out of underwear," Bishop said.    

But there was also an indication a government was coming.    

"When there is an announcement to make you will be one of the first people to know," said Bishop   

The morning's movements through the airports brought a shot of hope but Wednesday afternoon's press conference by Luxon was a chaser of reality.   

"We will continue our conversations tonight and, if we have to, into tomorrow as well. And as long as it takes, frankly," said Luxon.    

The policy is done, the working agreements finished and most of the Cabinet room is seemingly settled.  

"Largely all the ministerial appointments and responsibilities have been determined," said Luxon.   

But - and it's a big but - Luxon said there are a "couple of issues to close out".   

There are two coalition partners and one deputy Prime Minister role - one of the final conundrums. Willis confirmed she's not interested in the role.   

"I'm not in the race," she said. "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."   

That leaves two to tussle it out - one is making public pitches.  

"It is a role that I think I could do and there is a case for me to do it," Seymour said.   

The other is keeping quiet, while Jones was also not giving much away.   

Luxon spent the day holed up at home constantly on the phone - tapping the digits and drying to reach a compromise with his troubled couple.   

"[I] had to recharge my phone twice so, yep, been on the phone a lot," he said.  

Asked if there was a scenario where the two coalition partners could share the deputy role, Luxon said there were several options.    

By Wednesday night, the ACT team was departing Auckland.   

"It looks like a deal is close enough that we are getting a flight, that we can 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," Seymour said.   

He wouldn't say if he had got the deputy Prime Minister role and denied anyone was holding New Zealand to ransom.   

Most of the discussions over the past few weeks have been about policy, he said, while keeping mum on whether a deal is done. 

Jenna Lynch Analysis 

There's no Government deal yet, but that could change pretty quickly. 

The ball is really in a court that only Winston Peters and David Seymour are playing on here. 

Christopher Luxon has made it clear that the deputy Prime Minister role is one of, if not the, last hurdle to clear. 

Luxon has promised not to reopen the policy vault, so he's left himself without much to barter with to get either to fold on getting the job. 

All he's really got left to play with is other Cabinet positions. 

There was that interesting response to the question of job-sharing in that role. 

Luxon didn't rule out co-deputies. It may turn out that a three-way coalition is not the only first we see under this Government. 

From here, Luxon says he's staying put until the deal is done and then he'll let us know talks have wrapped, it's gone to boards for rubber stamping and he'll high tail it to Parliament and tell us what deal he's done. 

It's unlikely a full-on announcement will be made on Wednesday night, but we could get an indication talks have wrapped. There could potentially be an announcement as soon as Thursday, but it could bleed into Friday if Peters and Seymour dig their toes in. 

We're nearly there - we'll bring you everything we know as soon as it happens.