A kingmaker isn’t a foreign concept in Australian politics.
In 2010 there were three Julia Gillard had to deal with to secure her minority government.
But what’s different between that and New Zealand’s upcoming election is that the hung parliament was an anomaly.
In New Zealand, it’s intentional.
And for months it’s been said that NZ First leader Winston Peters will be the man to decide who forms government after the September 23 poll.
Sure the voters have their say, but based on current polls neither National nor Labour can rule alone.
Even with current partners both still fall short of a majority.
So it could come down to Mr Peters, who in the past has sided with both parties.
It’s the way Mixed Member Proportional voting was intended to work.
The confusing system, operating in only six countries worldwide, was first used in New Zealand in 1996.
Mr Peters was kingmaker back then too.
After campaigning for change, he shocked many when he ultimately decided to give National leader Jim Bolger a third term.
In negotiations he scored himself the contrived position of treasurer – until he was fired two years later.
In 2005 he was kingmaker again despite declaring he wouldn’t support either major party.
But Labour leader Helen Clark dangled the foreign affairs portfolio and was also returned for a third term as prime minister.
This year the choice is different. It’s between National leader Bill English who is campaigning as an unelected prime minister with 27 years of experience.
On the other side is Labour leader Jacinda Ardern, who became leader four weeks ago and was just four years old when Mr Peters first entered parliament.
As for who Mr Peters will choose, he’s not giving anything away.
But the latest polls mean the idea that Mr Peters will be kingmaker is no longer a guarantee.
A second potential kingmaker has emerged in the Maori Party.
Thursday’s shock poll put Labour ahead of National for the first time in more than a decade and means a Labour-Green coalition would be only a few seats shy of a majority.
Despite the Maori party being a current National government support partner, co-leader Marama Fox has said it’s 50/50 on who they might side with this election.
At 1 per cent in the current polls, the Maori Party must win a seat to secure their return to parliament and a shot at being kingmaker.
Co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell currently holds the party’s only electorate.