Christopher Luxon reacts to new poll showing National flying as ACT falls

Christopher Luxon is buoyed by the results of the first poll out since he took the leadership of National last month.

The National Party has shot up to 32.6 percent in the latest Curia poll, commissioned by the Taxpayers' Union. Luxon himself has also flown up the preferred Prime Minister rankings to 20.4 percent, which is still far below Jacinda Ardern's 39.1 percent, but above Judith Collins' most recent rating.

The National leader described it to reporters on Tuesday as an "encouraging and a positive start".

"There is a lot more work for us to do as a party - we've got to focus on New Zealanders and we've got work to do around housing and we've got work to do around education and we've got work to do around mental health.

"We've got work to do around how we get a more productive economy that drives into higher income and wages."

National's December result is up 6.4 points on November, when the party sat at 26.2 percent. 

It's the first poll to be released since Luxon took charge of the political party in November following Collins' fall, and was conducted by landline and mobile between December 1 and December 8. The sample size is 1000 voters, with a margin of error of 3.1 percent.

However, National's rise appears to have come at ACT's expense, with David Seymour's party falling 5.3 points to 10.6 percent, meaning Labour and the Greens could still govern together. Jacinda Ardern's party recorded 39.5 percent, up 0.2, while the Green Party is at 10.9 percent, an increase of 2.3 points.

On these results, Labour would have 49 seats and the Greens 14, crossing the 61-seat threshold. National would receive 40 and ACT would have 13.

The Māori Party gets 3 percent in this poll, up 0.7 percent, and is allocated four seats. New Zealand First is at 2.3 percent, up 0.6.

Curia is National's former polling company. National stopped polling while Collins was leader.

Luxon has also seen his fortunes soar in the preferred Prime Minister stakes. The National leader has jumped 16.3 points to 20.4 percent, below Ardern's 39.1 percent (up 5.1 in this poll), but higher than what Collins was managing last month.

She's dropped 5.5 points to 0.8 percent. Simon Bridges, who at one point was going to challenge for the National Party leadership last month, has fallen 1.1 to 0.1 percent. Sir John Key, the former National Prime Minister, has jumped 1.3 to 1.8 percent. 

Again, Luxon's rise has hurt ACT. Seymour is down 4.9 points to 5.6 percent. NZ First leader Winston Peters is at 2.4 percent, up 0.9.

Seymour told reporters he was still "chuffed" with ACT's result, noting it was still among the party's 10 highest-ever results. 

"Obviously going from stratospheric polling to very high altitude polling is a bit of a let-down, but I've been in much worse places," he said.

Asked if he was concerned Luxon was pulling voters away from ACT, Seymour said you never want to see people move away. 

"The main thing I'd say is that it hasn't actually lessened the attraction of ACT or what we offer. We are still very confident in our offering to New Zealand voters and we will just keep on making that offering, keep on listening to people, trimming the sails and being the best we can."

He said the biggest concern for him was that the gap between the left and the right had widened after shrinking in recent polls.

Luxon's net favourability is slightly higher than Ardern's on this poll at +15 compared to +14. Ardern's favourability score is above Luxon's, but so is her unfavourability rating. 

December's results show slightly more Kiwis think New Zealand is heading in the right direction than the wrong direction.

Luxon took the leadership of National in November after a successful no-confidence vote in Collins. She had suddenly demoted Bridges, seen as a potential rival, over a historic allegation of misconduct without briefing caucus beforehand.