'Fascinating and pointless': NZ First brushes off disastrous poll results

New Zealand First MP Tracey Martin says recent polls suggesting the party won't make it back into Parliament are both "fascinating and pointless".

She told Newshub Nation on Saturday they'll change once the party starts its election campaign proper.

"We've had nine MMP elections, I think, and every single one of them people have said New Zealand First won't get back. And only in one did we not get back, okay? It was so close then."

The latest Colmar Brunton poll has the party on 2 percent, and the Newshub-Reid Research poll has them on 2.7 percent - well below the 5 percent needed to get into Parliament, by more than the margin of error

In 2008 the party only got 4 percent, and without an electorate seat, was knocked out of Parliament. They came back with 6.6 percent in 2011 - both them and the Greens benefitting from a drop in support for Labour.

The reverse happened in 2017, with NZ First dropping from 11 percent in the polls ahead of the election to 7.2 on the day, as Labour surged in popularity after Jacinda Ardern took the leadership.

"It was a different election then, and everybody knows it was a different election from the perspective of where was Labour tracking at that moment and then what happened. So, yeah, it's true. I'd love to be at 11 percent now. We're not. But does that mean that I'm quitting tomorrow? No. It certainly doesn't. I'm not worried... We haven't even started electioneering yet. And once we start putting out our policies, then let's have a look at what the polls say."

NZ First is part of the formal coalition with Labour, governing with support from the Greens. The Greens and New Zealand First have a rocky relationship. Greens co-leader James Shaw recently accused NZ First of breaking their coalition agreement with Labour, which Martin denied.

"Sometimes James actually goes and talks to the papers before when I haven't finished talking to James. So, you know, and that's a little bit about the you know, the shift around electric vehicles overseas or we were still having a conversation. But then James put something in the paper."

Tracey Martin.
Tracey Martin. Photo credit: Newshub Nation

National's risen in the polls since new leader Todd Muller took over. Not enough to form a Government, but there's a sniff now, with ACT also set to bring in a few extra MPs. The party has a longstanding arrangement with National in the Epsom electorate - National doesn't campaign for the electorate seat, encouraging voters to back ACT and potentially boost the number of MPs on the right.

Martin said NZ First, which was brought into existence by former National MP Winston Peters, would never cut a similar deal with Labour in Ōhāriu, where she's planning to run this year.

"I don't believe in free rides... I'll put forward my ideas, let the other guys put forward theirs and let the people vote."

And just like after the 2017 election, NZ First will talk to both Labour and National before deciding on who they'll side with, if once again they're in a position to choose the next Government - her priority getting as many NZ First policies "across the line" as possible.

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