Labour wants Greens in NZ government

The New Zealand Greens have been invited by Labour to coalition-building talks.
The New Zealand Greens have been invited by Labour to coalition-building talks.

New Zealand's Labour party, convincing winners of this month's election, has admitted a preference to bring the Greens into government.

Labour, under popular Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, won a second term at the October 17 poll.

The scale of the election win means Labour is the first party to control the House of Representatives since electoral reform in 1996.

Despite its majority, Labour has invited the Greens for coalition-building talks held behind closed doors, which continued on Wednesday.

"We've made pretty good progress and we still think we can conclude by Friday ... we are hoping to form a government," Greens co-leader James Shaw said after the breakup of the meeting.

A spokesman for Ms Ardern said talks were "on track to wrap up by the end of the week".

Labour needed the support of both the Greens and maverick Winston Peters' New Zealand First to govern after the 2017 election.

Mr Peters missed out on a return to parliament in this year's poll.

Last week, Ms Ardern said she was "interested" in continuing the alliance, primarily to harness strengths from the Greens newly bolstered 10-strong caucus.

On Wednesday morning, leader of the house Chris Hipkins told Radio NZ their preference was to do a deal, rather than leave the Greens out in the cold.

"We've had a really good working relationship over the past three years and I think we would like to see that continue," he said.

"That's in the context of Labour having gained a majority in the parliament and having a clear mandate to implement the policy platform we put before the country during the election campaign."

A number of options are open to the parties, including a full-blown coalition, ministries outside cabinet and a shared policy agenda.

Labour's poll performance means it holds all the cards in the negotiations.

Opposition leader Judith Collins said she was unsurprised Labour wanted to bring the Greens into an arrangement.

"That's pretty much what I said during the campaign ... it shows that Labour might want the Greens to blame them for any decisions that they make," she said.

As government talks progress, Ms Collins and her National party are considering their next three years in opposition.

Ms Collins is holding individual talks with each of her caucus members this week ahead of a leadership ballot.

She is adamant she wants to continue in the job and has no publicly-announced rivals.

However her deputy Gerry Brownlee - who apologised for a series of blunders during the campaign and lost his own Christchurch-based seat in the heavy loss - appears gone from the role.

Under questioning on Wednesday, the 64-year-old fell short of stating he wanted to continue, saying it was "a matter for caucus".

Finance Minister Paul Goldsmith also faces losing his position.

Australian Associated Press