NZ Election 2020: ACT Party rise reflects recognition of 'what's occurring out there in New Zealand' - candidate Nicole McKee

ACT candidate and prominent gun advocate Nicole McKee says the party's rise is due to Kiwis recognising "what's occurring out there in New Zealand" - and is not just on the back of former NZ First voters turning to them.

Recent poll results show ACT would win nine seats at the election, with leader David Seymour currently the only party member occupying Parliament. 

NZ First, meanwhile, was on 2 percent - well below the 5 percent threshold to get back into Parliament.

McKee believes ACT is collecting support due to the party's stance on freedom. She believes New Zealanders are realising they're losing "a lot of their freedoms".

"It's really exciting to actually watch this growth and I think it's more than just taking potential votes from the likes of NZ First," she told Magic Talk's Road to the Election host Mitch McCann. "I think that you're seeing a bit of a change in the way that people are recognising what's occurring out there in New Zealand.

"There's a whole lot of stuff there that's been taken away and the bigger parties have not been standing up for those rights, whereas ACT has been consistently doing so."

McKee was approached by Seymour to run for the party earlier this year, but waited until she'd finished her role with the Council of Licensed Firearms Owners before formally accepting his offer.

She has been a high-profile critic of the gun reforms put in place by the Government in the wake of the Christchurch mosque shooting last year, and the speed at which the laws were passed.

McKee said freer firearms reform continued to be a priority for ACT.

"What we're looking at doing is having some changes where we can start a consultation process with all stakeholders to produce a new piece of legislation, which will ultimately amend this stuff-up that we've got now - we've actually got things in there that are so horribly wrong [and] it's not going to make New Zealand a safe place."

She said the criminal misuse of firearms had to be addressed. However, the party's policy on gun reform wasn't a "bottom line" for any potential Coalition Government.

"I haven't been in politics that long but I do realise that bottom lines just don't get you anywhere. 

"At the end of the day, we are a party that's strong, that's coming through but we need to be realistic about what we can achieve, and that means sitting down around a table and having a discussion."