Watch: National leader Judith Collins hedges her bets on whether she will accept election result

National leader Judith Collins is hedging her bets on whether she will accept the election result after Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern pushed the date back to October 17.

Newshub asked Collins on Monday more than eight times if she'd accept the result.

"I'm not staging a coup or anything like that if that's what you're asking," she laughed.

Asked again, Collins said, "I expect that I will be very happy being Prime Minister," before saying, "I'm not going to speak in hypotheticals".

Collins eventually got there.

"It's a very hypothetical question, but of course I'd expect to. Why wouldn't I?"

With the caveat it's conducted under the law.

Watch the full cut below

Collins' response drawing comparisons of another leader, US President Donald Trump, who recently told Fox News he will "have to see" if he will accept the election result in November.

"I have to see. Look, I have to see. No I'm not just going to say yes," Trump said.

Collins' response came after Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced, with Auckland under alert level 3 restrictions until August 26, the September 19 election date had been pushed out to October 17.

For political junkies it's a bit like delaying Christmas, but this is about ensuring a safe, credible and accessible election.

"Moving an election date, especially this late in the electoral cycle, is a significant decision," Ardern added.

The election date is a captain's call, but on this, there were a lot of captains in the kitchen.

Ardern faced a lot of pressure to delay it, but she insists she did not feel held to ransom.

"No, I did not," she said. "I did canvas widely - I canvassed everyone. Not everyone was of the same view but I gave equal weight and equal measure to everyone's view."

On Sunday, Ardern's second-in-charge Winston Peters published a letter he'd written to her, saying to push on with the September 19 election date would neither be free nor fair with the ability to campaign "fatally compromised".

It sparked fears he could topple the Government with a vote of no confidence.

Green Party co-leader James Shaw has been calling out New Zealand First, ACT and National for playing politics with the date.

"What they're essentially doing is blackmailing the country," he said on Monday. 

"The flirtation with creating a constitutional crisis if he didn't get his way was risky," he said of Peters.

Peters said he would not respond to "nonsense".

The Prime Minister "absolutely" ruled out Peters forced her hand.

Shaw also singled out Collins who, like Peters, wanted a November election. 

"There's a risk of kind of holding it up her sleeve that if she doesn't like the result - which, on current polling, is likely - [so] that she could say, 'Well, it's not a valid election anyway'."

Advance voting now begins on October 3 in New Zealand and postal voting can be scaled up for those who need it.

The Electoral Commission wants to avoid a downturn in turnout because people are scared of COVID-19.

"One of the things we want to do is provide confidence that when people walk into a voting place they will be safe," said Chief Electoral Officer Alicia Wright.

That includes adopting the personal pen strategy. The Electoral Commission is urging voters to bring their own pen to voting booths, but has two million to give away if required. 

The Prime Minister said she does "not intend" to change the election date again. 

Analysis by Political Editor Tova O'Brien

The Chief Electoral Officer - the woman with the stockpile of two million pens - can put voting on hold if there's "an unforeseen or unavoidable disruption".

The Electoral Commission also explained on Monday that could be regional. 

So, if heaven forbid an outbreak gets out of control in Auckland, for example, voting there could be paused. 

The rest of the country votes, the votes are counted but we won't learn the election result until Auckland has its say. 

So, a lot more certainty with this new date - but also a reminder, with COVID-19 to expect the unexpected.