New Zealand's general elections yield no clear victor as tally ends

National have recovered the seat of Northland from Winston Peters. With 15 percent of the vote counted, National's Matt King is leading over Mr Peters by around 100 votes.

In her speech at the Labour Party headquarters Ardern said she had called Bill English to acknowledge he had more seats and admitted she hadn't done as well as she would have liked.

Labour leader Jacinda Ardern has vowed to keep fighting.

A tight outcome could weigh on the currency on Monday, as could results that foreshadow a change in government, analysts say. With 61 seats required to form a government, National won just 58 with its political ally ACT, taking just one seat.

"It's possible", Bramwell said, that the Labour Party could gain power in a scenario where the party aligns with the Greens and gains the support of New Zealand First.

"As things stand we do have the balance of political responsibility and we're not going to be hasty with that", he said.

The campaign has been the most volatile in recent memory, with momentum swinging from Mr English to Ms Ardern and then back again.

The comments were made when Ms Ardern was made deputy in the wake of her election in 2008, before she became the impromptu Opposition Leader seven weeks ahead of the New Zealand election.

For English, who campaigned heavily on National's economic credentials after taking the party leadership previous year, the strong showing was a vindication after National crashed to its worst ever election result in 2002 under his first stint as leader.

Even though National remains the biggest party in parliament, there is no obligation for Peters to choose it over Labour.

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.

The future of New Zealand's new government has been put in the hands of Winston Peters, a cantankerous, anti-immigration politician who prefers fishing to politics, after vote counting finished in the general election, the Guardian reports.

"I simply can not predict at this point what decisions other leaders will make".

National campaign director Steven Joyce said the early figures were encouraging for English but it was far too early to see how the election would play out.

"The voters of New Zealand have given New Zealand First a role in forming the next government", he said.

That equates to about half of all the votes likely to be cast in the nation of just under 5 million people.

  • Rogelio Becker