Party leaders go head to head in debate

By Heta Gardiner

Those who weren't on stage were often talked about throughout the night's debate. First up was Winston Peters. Green Party leader James Shaw calling out the New Zealand First leader’s absence from the debate.

"He's like a bad date! He stood us up!," said the Green Party leader.  

Winston Peters made his own decision not to front for the debate, but Gareth Morgan and Hone Harawira weren't invited. Something Māori Party co-leader Marama Fox says needs to be looked at.

"That criteria which saw Gareth Morgan and Hone Harawira not involved in this debate tonight needs to be reviewed because Hone Harawira is a guaranteed seat if they wake up in the north because Kelvin is a guaranteed place."

Damian Light, the new leader of United Future, was a surprise addition to the debate. He said he would like to have seen Hone Harawira on stage.

"Yes, as well as the rest of us that were there. I think he would have added something slightly different."

On the table of discussion was potential coalition partners and both Marama Fox and David Seymour agreed that working with New Zealand First would be difficult for both their parties.

When asked if she could support a National/New Zealand First/Act government Marama Fox gave a lengthy pause, with David Seymour interrupting saying, "I hope you never have to!"

Fox then replied, "I hope we never have to either."  

With all of the shots fired on the night, the Māori Party believe in the pursuit of power, and the major parties will get into bed with whoever can put them in government.

When asked if Labour would be willing to work with them post-election, Fox said, "If they need our numbers, they'll come knocking – guarantee it."