New Zealand First leader Winston Peters has addressed a small crowd at Duke of Marlborough in Russell this evening where supporters have gathered.
With over 50 per cent of the votes tallied, his party is sitting on 2.5 per cent, currently not enough to get back into Parliament.
Peters thanked New Zealand First voters, staff and volunteers tonight, saying elections are "about democracy and what the people wish".
"And we should never stop trusting the people, who we are privileged to serve in whatever capacity and for however long."
He said the party had committed to provide certainty and stability in a "fast-changing world" but said the country was in an economic crisis that New Zealand First had predicted at the last election.
Peters said the effects of the economic crisis have not “been well canvassed” and it was “not properly" understood.
“For in any challenge, it is the preparedness to stand up and take on the challenge, win or lose that really matters.
“And as for the next challenge, we’ll all have to wait and see,” Peters said.
He offered congtratulations and 'best wishes' to successful candidates tonight.
NZ First's Shane Jones was trailing far behind in the Northland electorate with 2516 votes with just over 40 per cent of votes counted, while National’s Matt King was leading with 8879 votes but was almost neck-and-neck with Labour’s Willow-Jean Prime, who had 8616 votes at the time of writing.
Jones was introspective about the grim early results, calling them the “fruit of democracy”.
“Whether it is the disruptiveness of Covid, whether it’s the uncertainty and the anxieties, I stand before you as someone who made a promise three years ago to deliver for the province, the porowini, the region of Northland.
“And irrespective of the final ebb and flow of the inevitable political result, no one will ever say over the last three years that New Zealand First and Shane Jones, for the area of Northland and other provinces, did not deliver."