Labour leader Jacinda Ardern has heavily criticised National's Bill English's response to poverty, accusing him of only recently putting it on his agenda.
In the final TVNZ Leaders Debate, Ms Ardern claimed National had been failing to acknowledge and fix issues including child poverty and the housing crisis.
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"I think people looking forward to the future already know what National is going to deliver to them, they've had nine years to test what that looks like," she said.
However Mr English was stubborn, saying: "We have better solutions than you."
Ms Ardern wasn't to be cowed and hit back.
"You discovered poverty last week, that's what happened," she said, to which Mr English immediately responded: "We did not."
He said the National Government had been getting in and focusing on people "one on one", which Ms Ardern wasn't impressed with.
"Then why are there kids living in cars? Why are there kids going to school without food in their tummies?" she asked.
Mr English said surpluses in recent years have made them able to make social progress, vowing 50,000 children would be lifted out of poverty on April 1.
When addressing comments on the housing crisis, Mr English claimed the housing market is going "faster than it's ever gone". However figures released just this week found the market has slumped, with 20 percent fewer houses being sold than this time last year.