NZ Election 2020: Jacinda Ardern describes speculation she wants to work for United Nations as 'mischief-making'

Jacinda Ardern has described speculation by Judith Collins that she wants to work for the United Nations if Labour loses the election as "mischief-making" in the final days of the election campaign. 

Ardern revealed during her final TV debate face-off with Collins on Thursday night that she would step down as Labour leader if she loses the election on Saturday but Collins said she would want to stay on. 

The two leaders were asked during the debate what they would do if the election doesn't go in their favour, and while Collins hopes to continue as Opposition leader, Ardern said she would move on but continue to influence politics. 

"I want politics to change and whether or not I'm in it and trying to change it or whether or not I'm outside of it I still want to play a role in that," Ardern said. 

"I want our young people to look at this place and say you can do positive things - it doesn't have to be about mud-slinging - and I want our nation to not be completely polarised. Relative to other countries we do a pretty good job on that."

Collins interpreted Ardern's response to her future beyond politics as her working for an international body like the United Nations, following in the footsteps of former Labour leader and Prime Minister Helen Clark. 

"I think she'll be off to the UN," Collins told reporters on Friday. 

But Ardern confirmed she has no such ambition. 

"No. You will have heard me answer and dismiss statements like that for a long time and it's not just been in this recent election campaign. Unfortunately, it's part of that mischief-making that you hear in the final weeks of an election campaign," Ardern said on Friday. 

"Why would I if I'm running to be Prime Minister? My focus is here and on New Zealand."

Ardern said she doesn't have a "defined view" of what she would do if she left politics, but she provided an example of what it might look like.

"I don't have a defined view of what that would be. I'd say, probably, I'd want to play some role to continue to encourage candidates coming forward from a diverse range of backgrounds," she said. 

"I go into schools a lot and I talk about politics and there are a bunch of young people that don't think that they have the right personality or the leadership or skills for politics. I want to change that perspective. Even if that's something I do on the side in the future, I'd like to keep playing that role."

Ardern was asked why she waited until the second-to-last day of the campaign to declare that she would leave politics if Labour loses the election. 

"I think it was the first time I was asked and I would've answered the same way had anyone asked me. That's always been my personal position. That's just the first time I can recall being asked."

The Labour leader said she intends to lead as long as she's needed. 

"I take each term as it comes. I'm running hard for this election and that's what I'm focussed on. You know, people often ask, 'How long do you intend to be in politics?' I've been asked that since the day I arrived. I've always said I'm here as long as I believe I'm making a contribution."

Ardern laughed when asked if she intends to stay in New Zealand. 

"I have no plans to leave politics right now so I don't know why everyone's writing my obituary."

Collins said she'd write another book after politics. 

"I'll certainly be writing another book. I mean goodness, [I've] already got a best-seller. But it'll have to wait another while because I'm just so busy." 

The latest Colmar Brunton poll showed Labour on 46 percent compared to National on 31 percent, while ACT is on 8 percent and the Greens on 6 percent. On those numbers, Labour and the Greens could govern. 

Tune in on Three and from 7pm on Saturday for Newshub’s Decision 2020 election special.