Jacinda Ardern tired of leadership talk

Even if she was the only survivor of a bus crash that wiped out the entire Labour caucus, Jacinda Ardern still won't say if she'd stand for leadership of the party.

Ms Ardern on Saturday trounced her opposition in the Mt Albert by-election, winning 77 percent of the vote. It's reignited talk she should be the one leading the party into this year's general election.

Viewers of The AM Show think she should, with 72 percent saying they'd be more likely to vote Labour if Ms Ardern was boss instead of Andrew Little in an online poll.

"This is probably what, 10 people perhaps? Stirrers, we're going to call them," Ms Ardern told host Duncan Garner.

"I have aspirations, but it's not about relative position in caucus."

Asked if she'd try and roll Mr Little if the party's MPs asked her to, Ms Ardern said it was a "moot point" because they're not.

Asked if she'd go for the role if a vacancy emerged - either as leader or deputy - she said to ask again when a spot was available.

"If a bus wiped out my entire caucus and I was the last person standing - is this the question?"

Ms Ardern has been a list MP since 2008, and has twice lost to National's Nikki Kaye in Auckland Central, both times by slender margins. Her overwhelming victory in Mt Albert sees her follow in the footsteps of former leaders David Shearer and Helen Clark - but she urges voters not to read too much into that.

"I wouldn't mind five minutes just being the MP for Mt Albert."

Former leader and Mt Albert MP David Shearer (Simon Wong / Newshub.)
Former leader and Mt Albert MP David Shearer (Simon Wong / Newshub.)

Despite the (unscientific) poll suggesting her leadership could be what ends Labour's decade in the doldrums, she says on the street, no one cares.

"This is not the issue I was debating during the by-election, so as much as we have these kind of machinations around people's relative positions in caucus, when you're out there doing things like street corner meetings or door-knocking, these are not the things people talk about."

Turnout was very low, suggesting hardly anyone in the electorate's been talking about anything to do with politics.

"We knew it would be tough first because National chose not to run," says Ms Ardern.

"I was disappointed because I knew that would dampen down the amount of awareness around the by-election and perhaps people's level of engagement in it. There were people who didn't know [about the election], when I was door-knocking."

Ms Ardern was fifth on Labour's list at the 2014 election, and was Grant Robertson pick for deputy in his failed bid for the leadership in 2014.