Parliament's Clerk of the House Mary Harris this afternoon said she had certified that the petition had lapsed because she could not be sure minimum number of signatures required by law had been met.
The petition needed the signatures of 10 per cent of voters to succeed which the Electoral Commission said worked out to 308,753.
But Ms Harris said that following a counting and sampling and checking process she found the petition was short by about 16,500 valid signatures.
The organisers of the petition presented it to Parliament in March claiming they had 393,000 signatures.
But Ms Harris this afternoon said some of the signatories could not be found on the electoral roll, "either because they were not enrolled or because the identifying information they supplied was insufficient or illegible".
"Some duplicate signatures were also identified."
Ms Harris said legislation allowed the organisers a further two months to collect additional signatures. Grey Power national president and Keep Our Assets coalition spokesman Roy Reid said the coalition was committed to finishing the job.
The problem I have with the referendum isn't the organisation, it is not that it isn't binding, or that it may come too late to save the first traunche of state companies, but the wording of the referendum question itself:
Do you support the Government selling up to 49% of Meridian Energy, Mighty River Power, Genisis Power, Solid Energy and Air New Zealand?
Two major issues: Firstly, the question should be posed as a positive, rather than asking your supporters to cast a no vote. Secondly, the question is too complicated with percentages and names of companies. The question is a dog's breakfast, it really is. Whoever designed the question must have been a Tory. Asking people if they want to retain full public ownership of state assets would have been a better way to approach it.