'Bring it on': Political parties react to Jacinda Ardern's election date proclamation

The countdown to Election Day has officially begun following Jacinda Ardern's election date proclamation - and political party leaders are already reacting. 

In a little under eight months, the country heads to the polls - on September 19 - and it will be an election like no other with two referendum questions on hugely polarising topics. 

"This is one area where it's a decision for me and the thing that's important essentially are people's ability to vote," Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said, announcing the election date at her post-Cabinet press conference. 

Opposition leader Simon Bridges reacted to the news with: "Bring it on."

In reaching the date, the Prime Minister weighed up school holidays, university exams, weather and the patron saints of New Zealand sport: the All Blacks. 

Coincidentally, Election Day falls on the 127th anniversary of women getting the right to vote in New Zealand. And less significantly, International Talk Like a Pirate Day, observed by Pastafarians. 

The Prime Minister laughed when asked if International Talk Like a Pirate Day was part of her consideration when choosing a date. 

"As I said - many factors."

The major party leaders are expecting a presidential-style campaign: Jacinda Ardern versus Simon Bridges - and it's already underway. 

"I'm going to be campaigning on my record and this Government's record that we've made good progress, but we have more to do," Ardern said. 

Bridges said Labour's "first-class" on announcements but "third rate" when it comes to delivery. 

Green Party co-leader Jams Shaw welcomed the election date and said he's "looking forward to getting out into communities to share with people what we've achieved in two years of government with just eight MPs". 

Marama Davidson said the Green Party is ready for the campaign: "We are looking forward to campaigning on our track record in Government."

ACT leader David Seymour also welcomed the election date. 

"We will be campaigning to protect the rights and freedoms of New Zealanders and to give Kiwis more control over their lives."

There is a lot for voters to shoulder come September 19 - also answering "yes" or "no" on referendum questions about whether to legalise euthanasia and recreational cannabis. 

"On September 19, 2020, New Zealanders will be able to vote for compassion and choice for those suffering at the end of their life," Seymour, who spearheaded the End of Life Choice Bill, said. 

"I think New Zealanders are going to work out and know that the referendum that matters is the election," Bridges said. 

First, Bridges has a big decision of his own to make: whether to rule out working with his political nemesis, New Zealand First leader Winston Peters. 

"We'll make announcements about coalition partners in due course," the Opposition leader said. 

Peters wouldn't be interviewed, but a spokesperson provided a comment from him: "Elections happen every three years." 

More details from Political Editor Tova O'Brien

Although voters make their big decisions all in one hit, we get the early election results on the night of September 19. But we won't know the results of the referendum questions - those preliminary results come in two weeks later.

The Electoral Commission has announced that Parliament rises mid-August - so technically a five-week campaign. 

The Government is announcing the details of its $12 billion dollar infrastructure package on Wednesday in what could be seen as the mother of all election bribes. 

So, eight months out and the campaign is well and truly underway.