Support surges for Act after Waitangi events: poll

Prime Minister Christopher Luxon (left) David Seymour (centre) and Chris Hipkins (right) at a...
Prime Minister Christopher Luxon (left) David Seymour (centre) and Chris Hipkins (right) at a ceremony marking Waitangi Day in the Far North. Photo: Getty Images
The Act party and leader David Seymour appear to have reaped the dividends of a heated Waitangi Day period, rocketing up to 13.7 per cent in the latest Taxpayers’ Union-Curia poll.

The poll, taken over the first week of February and released today, has Act on 13.7 per cent - up 5.6 points since the last TPU-Curia poll in November.

National is also up 2.6 points to 39.6 per cent, while NZ First has dropped to 5 per cent (down 1.)

On the poll results, NZ First would no longer be needed to form a government - Act and National would get 66 seats between them - National getting 49 and Act 17.

Among the Opposition parties, the Greens have dropped sharply to 9 per cent (down 4.8 points), likely to be in response to former MP Golriz Ghahraman stepping down after allegedly shoplifting combined with James Shaw’s announcement that he would step down as co-leader and leave Parliament before the end of the year.

Labour dropped only slightly to 27.9 per cent (down 0.4). Te Pāti Māori was on 2.3 per cent (-1.1 points), and other parties combined were on 2.5 per cent.

The poll of 1000 eligible voters was taken from February 1 to February 7 – a period which included the Waitangi Day commemorations and protests.

Act leader Seymour had bounced up to a strong 10 per cent as preferred Prime Minister, carving out some of Prime Minister Christopher Luxon’s support. Luxon had dropped four points since November, back down to 29 per cent.

Labour leader Chris Hipkins was up 1 point to 19 per cent, NZ First leader Winston Peters was also up 1 point to 6 per cent, and the only contender so far for the Green Party leadership, Chlöe Swarbrick, was also on 6 per cent, unchanged from November 2023.

Given Act was at only 6.2 per cent in a Curia corporate poll taken in December, the surge appears to be largely due to the high publicity Act has had over the start of the year, especially over the Waitangi Day period when Seymour was the focus of protests over his controversial proposal for a Treaty Principles Bill, defining the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi.

It will come as some vindication for Seymour after Luxon firmly ruled out any chance National would support that bill to become law. National has only committed to supporting it through its first stage to the select committee consideration and public submissions.

In response, Seymour also cast doubt on whether Luxon would hold his ground in opposing the bill if there was strong public support for it. The poll results suggest National voters are responding over the issue to Seymour’s benefit – National will be watching carefully to see if that holds.

Prime Minister Christopher Luxon (centre) was pulled up by media on his reluctance to address...
Prime Minister Christopher Luxon (centre) was pulled up by media on his reluctance to address issues around the Treaty Principles Bill in his speech at Waitangi or in a media conference afterwards. Photo: NZ Herald
However, Luxon’s favourability ratings have remained strong in the polling: 44 per cent of voters had a favourable view of Luxon and 33 per cent had an unfavourable view, giving him a net favourability of +11 per cent (up 2 points on November 2023).

Seymour’s ratings had improved, he had a net favourability of -8 per cent (+6 points) while Winston Peters has a score of -22 per cent (+10 points).

Regarding Hipkins, 40 per cent of voters have a favourable view while 35 per cent have an unfavourable view for a net favourability of +4 per cent (-12 points).

The poll has also included a new question to assess approval of the government as a whole. On that, 16.4 per cent of respondents strongly approved of the job the government was doing and 23.3 per cent somewhat approved; 18.3 per cent somewhat disapproved and 16.9 per cent strongly disapproved; while 21.0% were neutral and 4.1 per cent were unsure.

This gives the government a net approval rating of +4.5 per cent.