The first 1News Kantar Public poll for 2022 has shown a realignment of the centre-right, 1News political editor Jessica Mutch McKay says, seeing voters move back towards National as it rebuilds and away from the alternative, ACT.
Thursday's poll showed party support for Labour down one to 40%, National up four to 32%, ACT down three to 11%, while the Green Party was steady on 9%.
It was National's strongest result since October 2020, good signs for the party rebuilding after a leadership change from Judith Collins to Christopher Luxon last year.
While ACT dropped to 11%, it was still one of the best results the party had ever received.
As for preferred Prime Minister, Luxon was the biggest winner, jumping up 13 percentage points to 17%, while support for ACT leader David Seymour nearly halved, dropping from 11% to 6%.
Mutch McKay said National's rise and ACT's drop were not mutually exclusive, and believed the results showed a realignment of the centre-right.
"This is still a good number for the ACT Party but we're definitely seeing them dropping away since National got its new leader," she said.
"National will be looking at these numbers and be feeling relieved that they're not embarrassing, but they still have to claw back that support if they want to be competitive."
Luxon said National's result was "positive and encouraging".
"I'm really focused on what we've got to do in the National Party," he said.
"Fundamentally we've got to get into the work and now follow up our words with actions."
He said that meant opposing the Government on issues such as the slow rollout of rapid antigen testing, and coming up with ideas "that New Zealanders can say, 'that's fantastic that's solving some of our biggest problems'."
Despite the drop, Seymour remained upbeat about the latest poll results.
"We're at 11% and able to give New Zealanders an option, who don't just want to change the Government but set a new direction for New Zealand. ACT remains at record levels of support, our third-best poll in the history of TV1's polling.
“We’re not just here to get Jacinda out of the Beehive, we’re here to put new ideas in the Beehive, too.”