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PM says poll with Labour slump was taken during 'messy few months'

Prime Minister Chris Hipkins speaks to media following in his first major foreign policy speech.
Prime Minister Chris Hipkins said the poll result was "disappointing." Photo: RNZ / Angus Dreaver

The prime minister says a new poll showing a slump in support for Labour is a sharp reminder the government needs to stay focused on the issues affecting New Zealanders.

The New Zealand Herald reported the latest Talbot Mills corporate poll saw Labour drop to its lowest result in that poll in at least four years - on 31 percent.

The Herald said National gained one point to 36 percent, ACT went up one to 12 percent and the Greens also gained one point to reach 8 percent.

It had Te Pāti Māori and New Zealand First each on 4 percent and The Opportunities Party (TOP) just shy of 3 percent.

Talbot Mills contacted 1036 people between 28 June and 2 July for the poll, which had margin of error of 3 percent, the Herald said.

This poll was for Talbot Mills' corporate clients. It also does Labour's internal polling.

Speaking from Europe, Prime Minister Chris Hipkins said the poll was taken during a "messy few months" for the government.

In June, Michael Wood resigned as a minister over a repeated failure to disclose public shares as a conflict of interest, Minister Jan Tinetti went before Parliament's Privileges Committee for taking too long to correct a misleading statement, and allegations surfaced of poor staff relations in Minister Kiri Allan's office.

"I have been in politics long enough to know where a party or a government looks like it is not focused on the issues that New Zealanders care about, the voters will send them a pretty clear message about that," Hipkins said.

"I've certainly received that message. New Zealanders want to see us focused on the issues that matter to them - that includes the cost of living, that includes the economy, it includes creating an environment where they can work hard and get ahead.

"It is an indication that New Zealanders don't feel like we are focused on the issues they want us to be focused on and I think that's a message that the whole of the Labour will hear."

On the Preferred Prime Minister question, Hipkins fell six points to 32 percent.

But National Party leader Christopher Luxon still lagged behind, dropping one point to 21 percent.

National Party leader Christopher Luxon
National Party leader Christopher Luxon said the opposition is more focused on the election day poll rather than any other poll. Photo: RNZ / Angus Dreaver

Luxon said the party wasn't reading too much into the results.

"We're very focused on October 14th [Election Day], it honestly is the only poll that matters," he said.

"If I went back and read everything that any commentator's said over the last 18 months about the National Party and its chances for the election, it's different all the time. So we're just being very focused on the job at hand which is making sure we talk Kiwis how we are going to fix the economy, restore law and order, and deliver better health and education [if elected].

"That's what New Zealanders care about and that's what we care about," Luxon said.

Pushed on his preferred prime minister ratings, he said the party had come "an awful long way" in the 18 months or so he'd been leader.

"The reality for us is that's fine, but what we're focused on is making sure we deliver for the New Zealand people, and so we are, we've put 20 policy ideas out there [already]," he said.

Hipkins would not be drawn on whether he had been relationship building with Te Pāti Māori's co-leaders, Debbie Ngarewa-Packer and Rawiri Waititi, in preparation for if the party held a kingmaker position post-election.

"Look, I've had a fairly warm and cordial relationship with the co-leaders of Te Paati Māori. That doesn't mean that I agree with every position they take," he said.

"I've spoken publicly on areas where I disagree with them. I strongly disagree with Rawiri Waititi's recent comments about gangs, for example.

"We'll continue, as we campaign in the lead up to the General Election, to be very clear on the issues where we think we can work with other parties and on the issues where we don't share their views," Hipkins said.

"I think that's the role of a prime minister, you govern for the whole of the country and that means keeping good working relationships open with all of the political parties represented in Parliament."

Finance Minister Grant Robertson said "It hasn't been the easiest period of time, has it".

"There have been a number of very obvious disruptions and distractions that have gone on and there are issues that New Zealanders are concerned about that they're looking to see whether or not those have been addressed, and so we'll keep fighting on that.

"What I would say is let's be careful about one poll - polls come and go."