NZ Election 2020: Judith Collins fends off claims National planted supporters to bolster party's popularity

It was a stark day of contrast on the campaign trail - National and Labour's experiences could not have been more different. 

Labour leader Jacinda Ardern hosted a rah-rah rally with hundreds of cheering students as Judith Collins had to bat off claims National had planted supporters on a walkabout to bolster the party's popularity. 

Otago University students huddled against the elements for a date with Ardern on Wednesday, as she went for an odd kind of people's princess vibe. 

"I'll leave the umbrellas behind. If you can get wet, I can get wet with you," Ardern told the crowd who sat outside to hear her speak despite the rain. 

Afterwards, the Labour leader was swarmed by a crowd of supporters - a contrast with Collins who was turned away by a woman from a store on a Ponsonby Rd campaign walkabout in Auckland. 

"They didn't want the media, I dont think it's us, I think it might be you guys," Collins told reporters when asked about the incident. 

Collins said she didn't see the woman give her a thumbs down. 

"Did she? I didn't see that."

And while Ardern was stocking up on her favourite peaches and cream lollies in Otago, Collins sat down at a cafe table in Ponsonby next to an M&M poll showing Labour far in the lead. 

Though, it was going one better by the time Collins left, after she topped up the jar with blue M&Ms to represent National. 

After what her MPs have been putting her through, every vote counts. Collins was steely in the face of her whiteanting colleagues. She's refusing to stand down as National Party leader if she loses the election. 

"Certainly not," she said. "Yes I will be staying on."

Some of her MPs are telling Newshub if National loses it's a matter of when, not if, she's rolled. But Collins doesn't think the leaking has lost her the election. 

"No, not at all," she said. 

Ardern wouldn't say if she thinks the mess in National has won her the election. 

"Oh look, I'm not taking anything for granted," she said. 

Nor is National. It's not taking the presence of throngs of fans for granted. It's campaign route had supporters - like campaign staffer Hamish Price - planted en route.

"You're doing a fantastic job," he told Collins as he shook her hand in front of the cameras. 

Collins was pressed on it during a press conference. 

"I meet genuine supporters every single day and I'd say all those people are genuine supporters," she said. 

It's normal to have party supporters and volunteers at campaign stops, but less normal to make out they're random joe bloggs. 

"I would just say that is not necessary," Ardern said, when asked what she thought about it. "If we happen upon people who are Labour supporters that's great." 

Like how Ardern just happened across Labour list candidate Rachel Brooking's husband, oncologist Christopher Jackson, who thanked her for promising a cancer agency. 

"You're welcome," Ardern replied. 

NZ First and ACT are promising their public support is the real deal. 

"I've never met him before - I didn't pay him," ACT leader David Seymour joked as he pointed to the person next to him. "I do all my own stunts."

NZ First leader Winston Peters said all the parties are doing it except his. 

"They're all doing that," he said. "It's rentacrowd."