Chris Hipkins claims a lack of media coverage on Labour's GST policy is partially to blame for his party crashing to its worst poll result in six years.
The TVNZ-Verian poll had Labour on 29 percent - down 4 points from the last poll in July.
National, meanwhile, jumped 2 points to 37 percent and ACT was up a point to 13 percent - giving the right bloc more than enough seats to form a Government.
Labour leader Hipkins spoke to AM on Tuesday, the day after the poll was released, where he pointed to a range of factors behind the result.
"I think New Zealanders have seen us dealing with some pretty difficult issues over the last couple of months - and the last couple of years. We haven't been focused on the stuff they want to see us focused on and I think that the polls are reflecting that sentiment," he told host Ryan Bridge.
"We've got to make sure we are really focused on the issues that New Zealanders want to hear from us about; they want to hear from us about the future, they want to hear from us about the issues that are important to them like the cost of living and like the work we're doing to improve the public services they rely on."
He said New Zealanders had seen some "distractions" from the incumbent Government since the last such poll.
"I accept that," Hipkins said. "We've got to really sharpen up."
Bridge pointed out that since the last TVNZ poll, Labour had also made major announcements - including its pledge to remove GST from fruit and vegetables.
Asked if the policy had failed, Hipkins noted the campaign was only just getting started.
"A lot of people aren't tuned into the campaign at the moment, they won't necessarily have heard that," he said. "That sort of story, unfortunately, gets a fraction of the coverage of some of the stories that we've dealt with over the last few months that have got a lot more coverage and a lot more cut-through."
Hipkins, the incumbent Prime Minister, took over the role from the outgoing Dame Jacinda Ardern earlier this year - having already spent 15 years as a Labour MP.
Once described as Labour's "Mr Fix It" - having taken on several high-profile portfolios over the past few years - Hipkins, now as the party's leader, has a big job ahead of him to turn recent polling around, pundits have said.