Judith Collins has conceded National "needs ACT" to win the next election, after Newshub's latest poll showed David Seymour's party shooting up to 11.1 percent.
The Newshub-Reid Research poll showed Labour on 43 percent down 9.7 points, National on 28.7 percent up 1.7 points, ACT on 11.1 percent up 4.2 points, and the Greens on 8.5 percent up 1.4 points.
The polling also showed that Jacinda Ardern is still ahead as preferred Prime Minister on 45.5 percent, while Seymour on 8.6 percent has overtaken Collins on 8.2 percent. National voters also think Seymour is a better leader than Collins.
Despite that, Collins told Magic Talk she's not worried, because with National and ACT combined, there's a chance the centre-right could win back power.
"What we're seeing is a massive 10-point drop in two months from the Labour Party. National's gone up two points in that time, ACT has gone up as well. That's the thing that I'm watching - the trend, and the trend is very good for the Opposition," Collins said.
"I'm making it very clear that National needs ACT and ACT needs National. Nobody's kidding ourselves that we have a government without being able to work together. Either that, or we need another coalition partner to get there."
New Zealand First, booted out of Parliament after not making 5 percent at the election, is polling at 3.4 percent up 1.5 points. Winston Peters has worked with National before, but the relationship is rocky after he chose to work with Labour in 2017.
ACT is optimistic about a National-ACT partnership. In an email sent to supporters, Seymour says: "Yes, we can win in 2023."
"Tonight's Newshub poll had ACT up to 11.1 percent, our best result since TV3 started polling. National were up too, on 28.7 percent. That result would give the centre-right 51 seats - 10 short of winning - two years out from the election."
Collins said Labour's election victory, which enabled it to govern alone for the first time since New Zealand introduced mixed member proportional (MMP) representation in the 1990s, was boosted by COVID-19.
"Last year was obviously an extremely strange year with COVID coming in, meaning that the Labour Party didn't need the Greens to govern with. I think too that the Greens are slight beneficiaries out of Labour as well," Collins said.
"I just think it's a big wake up call, actually, for the Labour Government, in showing their arrogance and ignoring provincial rural New Zealand and our tradespeople - they're starting to hurt them."
Ardern told The AM Show that despite Labour's popularity dropping in the poll, she's still "heartened" by the public's support.
"I've never been one to be particularly obsessive over polls," she said. "I do listen, I do hear people... I hear people rather than just generic polls."
Collins is also optimistic abouther party's prospects, despite National voters preferring Seymour to her as a leader.
"We're doing really well. We're coming up, which is a great trend. Trends in polls - that's actually the thing that's more important," she told Magic Talk.
"When we look two years out from an election, having gone through what we've gone through in the last four years, clearly there's still a lot of work to do and that's what we're working on. We'll be focusing on the things that matter to people.
"What we're hearing from people is that they're very worried about the cost of housing, they're very worried about $1 million a day being spent on emergency housing and the Government just buying up motels at what looks like almost twice their values, they're worried about the cycle bridge in Auckland which they think is a ridiculous waste of money, and they're also very worried about crime.
"We're going to be focusing on those things, and also on health and the lack of availability of beds and getting operations done."