Polls close as New Zealand awaits result of closely fought election

Since she became leader seven weeks ago, Ardern's popularity has carried Labour from 24 per cent in polls to a 36 per cent election result, leaving the party with the thinnest of hopes to form a government - if it can coax Winston Peters' NZ First party to join a Greens-Labour coalition over one with National. It was obvious, as Peters can choose to go either way, with National in a two-party government with a clear majority, or with Labour and the Greens that just makes it to majority with 61 or 62 seats.

Jacinda Ardern has made her campaign about shaking things up, pointing the finger at the governing National party for widening inequality during its nine years in office.

Prime Minister Bill English who spoke to his supporters in Auckland underplayed the results and said: "just short of half of all New Zealanders voted for his party" and confirmed that his party is not a position to form a government alone.

No party has formed a majority government in New Zealand since proportional voting was adopted in 1996, and this election is unlikely to change that.

"There's conversations that need to be had and we're open to those", she said.

In the marginal seat of Hutt South, National's Chris Bishop came from behind to beat Labour's Ginny Andersen.

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Ms Ardern said as leader she took responsibility for Labour's 10-point loss.

"There's still a lot in play at the moment", she said.

"We know though that traditionally, they've been less likely to vote", she said. She said Labour hadn't "done as well as I would have liked" but she would continue to be "relentlessly positive".

ANU engineering students from New Zealand Yash Vyas and Ali Bulbul have been following the New Zealand election closely.

But it sounded like a concession speech instead of someone who leads by far the biggest party in an alternative combination of parties to National.

The National Party, which has held government for the past three terms, attacked her financial credibility, arguing that only English had the experience to maintain strong economic growth.

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"So many New Zealanders supported us. because through this campaign, we had the opportunity to share our challenging ideas about how to solve New Zealand's most pressing problems". Votes for the Green Party reached 6.2 percent.

"I will not be giving any answers tonight or tomorrow until I've had a full chance to talk to our full board of New Zealand First, our supporters and organizations around the country and our (members of Parliament)", Peters said, according to Radio NZ.

She talked about contacting James Shaw.

National's 58 seats were higher than Labour and Greens put together at 52, but neither combination had enough to govern on their own.

There were 3.2 million New Zealanders registered to vote in the election, with a record 1.2 million of them opting to cast ballots early.

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