MMP machinations are back with a vengeance - and the Māori Party just became Parliament’s powerbroker.
The latest 1News/Kantar Public Poll shows voters are split between possible Labour/Greens or National/Act coalitions.
The government-deciding factor would be the Māori Party if polls continue to trend this way.
This poll found National had shot ahead of Labour on 39% compared with Labour’s 37%.
National rose seven percentage points, and Labour fell three percentage points to its lowest figure since 2017.
The Green Party had 9% and Act 8%.
Voters are still rating Labour leader Jacinda Ardern as preferred prime minister with 46% but new National leader Christopher Luxon is close at 45%.
The latest poll comes as concerns rise over increased costs of living, especially food and petrol, the Omicron outbreak heads to a peak and unemployment hits Māori and Pasifika hard.
Add to that the Russian invasion of Ukraine and Kiwis are deciding halfway between two elections to put MMP back to use.
At the last election amid the Covid crisis most voters opted for a standalone Labour government, rewarding Ardern’s leadership.
However, Māori voters took a slightly different tack, still backing Labour but also bringing the Māori Party back to Parliament.
The two co-leaders, Rawiri Waititi and Debbie Ngawera-Packer, have been controversial at times in Parliament, particularly in recalling New Zealand’s colonialist past and the effects it had on Māori.
The previous Māori Party co-leaders, Te Ururoa Flavell and Marama Fox, worked with a previous National-Act coalition, with Flavell holding several cabinet portfolios but lost their seats in the 2017 election.