National's promise of tax cuts raises questions over how it would afford them

National's doubling down on its promise of tax cuts but that's raised questions about how it would afford them.

The party's holding its annual conference in Christchurch - the first since Christopher Luxon took over as leader.

National Party faithful got to know Christopher Luxon as he returned to his hometown for his first National conference as leader. But Luxon handed the day's biggest calls to his deputy Nicola Willis.

She gave the Government's Cost of Living payment a new nickname - Kiwispray - and tidied up Luxon's fumbles this week - like the on-again, off-again tax cut confusion.

"National will index tax thresholds to inflation," Willis said at the conference.

Alongside moving tax brackets up, National plans to ditch the 39 percent top tax rate for high-income earners and a slew of other taxes.

But the Council of Trade Unions (CTU) has done some numbers.

"National needs to show how it's going to add up, currently there's no way the numbers add up," CTU economist and policy director Craig Renney said.

Renney said across a term of Government, indexing tax brackets to inflation would cost $6.2 billion, axing the 39 percent bracket another $2.4b and all up National's tax cuts would cost $11.7b over three years.

Renney said the Government would only be left with $6.2b to run the country.

"This is more than just tinkering - this is really big cuts to essential services to deliver the tax cuts and the commitments to health and education they've made today," he said.

"What we're talking about is fundamentally getting a better performance and cutting out waste in the public service and that's how we'll fund it," Luxon said.

It's been a bruising fortnight for Luxon with his Te Puke holiday headache and tax cut confusion - so he really needed to show National's rank and file 700-odd gathered here that the ship is in good shape.

He did that - it was a slick production - and speeches were all met with standing ovations.

But by promising tax cuts without releasing a costed policy until next year, that's going to lead to months of attacks from the left questioning: show me the money.