Ardern puts her negotiating team together

Peter Wilson and Karen Sweeney,
Publish Date
Monday, 25 September 2017, 4:23PM

Labour leader Jacinda Ardern has started putting together her coalition negotiating team and expects there will be initial contact with NZ First in the next few days.

"My plan is to make some calls later in the week, over the next few days," she told reporters on Monday.

"My expectation is that we will have a team that will speak one on one, as team to team."

Ms Ardern is keeping her pre-election front bench together for the time being.

"We'll be having a caucus discussion tomorrow and we will take it from there."

Ms Ardern wouldn't discuss any negotiating points, apart from again ruling out a binding referendum on abolition of the Maori seats - one of NZ First leader Winston Peters demands.

Labour won all seven Maori roll seats on Saturday.

"That one's non-negotiable, we have ruled it out," she said.

Ms Ardern hasn't had any direct contact with Mr Peters since the election, and earlier on Monday Prime Minister Bill English said he hadn't either.

Mr English said he expected to speak to Mr Peters either on Wednesday in Wellington or earlier by phone.

Nevertheless, he was "quite happy with the progress that has been made".

"Clearly Mr Peters has said he is not going to rush it so that's how it is flowing," Mr English said.

National won the most seats in Saturday's general election but needs NZ First for a parliamentary majority.

Labour is exploring forming a government with the Greens and NZ First, even though governments in the past have always been led by the party with the most votes.

As for Mr Peters, he went fishing on Sunday and said it was important not to rush things.

He won't give anything away about his negotiating position.

"Negotiating is about getting all you possibly can for the people who voted for you, and that means you've got to be smart, and clever, and determined and resolute - and the last thing you do is start playing your cards before you get to the table."

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