New Zealand gets hung parliament

New Zealand opposition leader Jacinda Ardern has conceded her opponent incumbent Prime Minister Bill English has won the majority of seats.

That means New Zealanders may need to wait for days or even weeks to confirm whether English will retain the top job as the various parties try to negotiate with each other to form a coalition.

The elevation of Ms Ardern, 37, to the Labour leadership changed all that - she electrified the campaign and created a wave of excitement that saw her party jump to a level pegging with National.

The results could put Prime Minister Bill English's National Party in a position to remain in power for a fourth term despite a strong challenge from Labour - a party that had led in some polls preceding Saturday's election.

New Zealand's parliamentary elections on Saturday yield no clear victor as tally ended in the wee hours of Sunday, leaving the third largest party with 7.5 percent of the votes the kingmaker. "We respect the negotiation process".

Opinion polls leading up to the vote had been volatile with two recent ones giving National a near 10 point lead over Labour.

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She said it was not just about the race but about what the party could do afterwards.

"But the voters have also indicated that there are issues they would expect to be addressed where they see Mr Peters as having some of the answers there and we would expect to get on and discuss that with him".

"I haven't done as well for [our voters] as I would have liked", she told the crowd, who protested back loudly.

But he is a controversial figure in New Zealand politics.

Greens leader James Shaw offered an olive branch to Peters. In 1996 he campaigned to close borders to what he called the "Asian invasion", and since then he has continued to call for a crackdown on immigration, which he says is the cause of New Zealand's housing and social problems.

Her focus on youth continued upon her election, becoming the youngest sitting member in the NZ parliament until the election of Gareth Hughes in 2010.

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The wildcard for both English and Ardern is Peters, whose party could decide the outcome of the election if it is as tight as polls predict.

Labour would get a coalition Government just over the line with the support of NZ First and the Greens.

"He will be well aware that we have pretty strong support from the New Zealand public, significantly stronger than any other party and I'm sure he will respect that".

She appeared deflated addressing the party faithful after the vote, saying she had given her all and apologising for not achieving enough.

A record 1.2 million ballots were cast before the day of the election, accounting for about a third of the 3.3 million New Zealanders enrolled to vote.

"We've run such an extraordinary campaign and we've had such support, it would be very hard for me to be depressed", he said.

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  • Ryan Wade