The accuracy of recent election polls, which show National having support of at least 50 percent, has been challenged during a multi-party leaders' debate on television tonight.
Three polls out today give National support of at least 50 percent, despite weeks of negative publicity following the release of Nicky Hager's Dirty Politics book, and the resulting resignation of Judith Collins as a minister.
The polls from Colmar Brunton, Stuff-Ipsos and New Zealand Herald-Digipoll show support for Labour falling to between 23.8 percent and 26 percent.
Leaders from the minor parties took part in a debate tonight on Television New Zealand. They were: Independent Coalition's Brendan Horan, Internet Mana's Hone Harawira, New Zealand First leader Winston Peters, Green Party co-leader Russel Norman, Maori Party leader Te Ururoa Flavell, United Future's Peter Dunne, ACT's Jamie Whyte and Colin Craig from the Conservative Party.
The leaders of the two major parties, National's John Key and David Cunliffe from Labour, took part in a TVNZ debate on 28 August and didn't participate tonight.
New Zealand First leader Winston Peters said the polls flatter some parties while seriously under-representing others' support, and he would turn the polls into confetti on election night, 20 September.
Conservative Party leader Colin Craig said the polls ignore voters who are currently undecided but tend to vote for smaller parties.
Mana leader Hone Harawira said because the polls are conducted via telephone landlines, they miss a lot of Maori voters.
However, United Future leader Peter Dunne said taken together the polls show there is no mood for a change of government.
Fears for Maori seats
Maori Party co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell said Maori are worried about the implications the Internet-Mana alliance could have on the future of Maori electoral seats.
Mr Flavell said many are worried about the consequences for Maori seats if the Mana leader Hone Harawira wins the Te Tai Tokerau seat and brings Internet Party candidates into Parliament with him.
"The real fear from Maori communities I've spoken to is the loss of the Maori seats on the back of what people see as a rort of the system - albeit it is law now - but they see a real fear that the Maori seats may be in jeopardy because of the compromising of the Tai Tokerau seat."
Dirtiest election yet, says Dunne
United Future leader Peter Dunne said this year's election is the dirtiest he can recall, making it tough for parties to get their messages across to the public.
"Every campaign has its moments. This one, I think, just has been a consistent trawl of dirt and as a consequence I think everyone has been affected in terms of getting their message out."
Mr Dunne said he hoped the Dirty Politics scandal is beginning to fade.
Poll of Polls
The latest surveys change the averages in Radio New Zealand's POLL of POLLS compiled by political analyst Colin James:
- National 50.2%
- Labour 25.9%
- Greens 12.0%
- NZ First 5.6%
- Conservative 3.3%
- Internet Mana 2.2%
- Maori 0.9%
- ACT 0.3%
- United Future 0.2%
The Poll of Polls is calculated from the last four most recent polls.