A visibly deflated Judith Collins arrived at the National Party and conceded defeat following a shellacking in the 2020 election.
But she had a message to supporters - "we will be back".
It's been a disastrous election for National, currently on 27 percent of the vote and facing the loss of many former safe seats.
Collins took the stage in Auckland to chants of "Judith" and thanked the voters for their support.
"Boy did we know this was going to be tough," she said.
"Thank you to everyone who voted National. We value your support and thank you for your trust and confidence.
"The next three years will be an opportunity for us to repay that trust and we will make you so proud that you supported us during this tough time."
Collins also thanked her husband and son, the party's volunteers, and unsuccessful party candidates.
"I'm sorry to see you go," Collins said to those who won't make it back to Parliament.
Collins said she had called Labour leader Jacinda Ardern to congratulate her on an "outstanding result".
But she also promised National will work as a "robust Opposition" as New Zealand deals with the COVID-19 pandemic.
"It is going to need better fiscal policy than we have so far seen," she said
"We will take time to reflect and we will review and we will change. National will emerge from this loss a stronger, disciplined and more connected party.
"We will hold the Government to account for failed promises and we will push, on behalf of all New Zealanders, the Government to do better for Kiwis.
"Even though tonight has been a very tough night for us all ... three years will be gone in the blink of an eye and I say to everybody, we will be back."