Judith Collins says NZ Election 2020 result 'could've been worse', wants to be National leader for the 'long haul'

Despite a disastrous election showing that saw them bleed 21 parliamentary seats, National leader Judith Collins says her party's result "could've been a lot worse".

National limped to a humiliating 26.8 percent of the vote on Saturday night, as they watched Jacinda Ardern's Labour earn enough votes to govern alone.

The result means they'll have just 35 MPs this term - a massive drop from their 56 during the last term and close to half that of bitter rivals Labour, who surged from 46 to 64 seats.

Collins told Magic Talk's Peter Williams a "very nice, very thorough" review of the election campaign will now be carried out by the party to find out what went right and what went wrong.

While the result obviously wasn't the one she wanted, Collins was under no illusions about the scale of the task at hand when she took over - and argues history shows National can bounce back after a poor election result.

"It could've been a lot worse," she said.

"We've had it before in 2002 - we got 20.7 percent and ended up with 27 MPs. But I'll tell you what, by 2005 three years later, we almost won - we were within a smidgen of it.

"So it's just a good opportunity to sit ourselves back on our bottoms and reflect, and then get out there and do the job as Opposition.

She says the campaign was embattled from the start, with planning coinciding with two leadership changes in quick succession as Simon Briddges then Todd Muller were ousted by the National Party caucus.

Collins took over in July, less than 100 days before the election, and was eager not to blame anyone for the poor showing on Saturday night. However she admitted the review would be a good opportunity for an "honest appraisal" of the campaign.

"Like any organisation, we have to sit there, think about it and figure out what we've learnt from it and what we can do better," she said.

"[But] we're about to go into very difficult economic times, and I stand by our decision to campaign on the economy because there was no point campaigning on COVID - that was taken up already."

As for whether Collins will follow her predecessors by falling on her sword? No chance, she says.

"People need to hold their horse and behave," she said.

"Being leader of the Opposition is not what I'd consider a prize, but is, however, an enormous responsibility. Being asked to take over the role so close to the election, I did so on the basis I was going to do my very best for the National Party and the country.

"I knew it was going to be a long haul, because nobody seriously thought it would be easy. I'm very happy to be there and am very happy to be in the role. I think you can probably see I enjoy doing my work."