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Hipkins axes Ardern policies, poll puts NZ Labour ahead

Chris Hipkins has continued his differentiation from predecessor Jacinda Ardern, abandoning several of her climate policies in a bid to save money and make his government more popular in an election year.

And a new poll shows Labour clawing back lost ground under Ms Ardern's leadership, and in an improved position to hold power after the October 14 poll.

On Monday night, a TVNZ poll showed Labour on 36 per cent, and centre-right opposition National on 34 per cent, with the Greens and right-wing ACT both on 11.

Replicated in parliamentary seats, Labour could govern with the Greens and Maori Party, which polled three per cent.

Since coming to office in late January, Mr Hipkins has reoriented the party around "bread and butter" issues - a phrase he has uttered ad nauseum.

On Monday, he announced a fresh swathe of policy shifts as part two of his promised "reprioritisation".

On the incinerator are plans to decrease speeds on regional roads, a $NZ586 million ($A545 million) scheme which gives grants for scrapping old cars, a container deposit scheme, alcohol reforms and lowering the voting age to 16.

Mr Hipkins also announced one of Ms Ardern's signature promises - Auckland light rail - would be slowed further, while a focus on public transport in regional areas would also be abandoned.

The new prime minister argues changes to the government's work plan are necessary as economic conditions worsen, with rising inflation and a recession forecasted this year.

In total, $NZ1.7 billion ($A1.6 billion) in savings have been found through reprioritisation, which Mr Hipkins hopes will show Kiwis he is ending wasteful government projects.

"The government is doing its bit and is cutting its cloth to suit the times we are in," Mr Hipkins said.

"Some of these things we're delaying or stopping mean a lot to us. But we're taking the hard decisions because we know Kiwis are also making some tough calls."

Several of the changes lessen plans to curb emissions, leading to accusations Mr Hipkins was not serious on climate change.

Mr Hipkins said there were "better ways of achieving emissions reductions" and the government would announce those plans "in due course".

"Watch this space," he said.

"I don't think we're kicking the can down the road. What we're doing is making sure that what we're delivering is deliverable.

"The government is absolutely focused on reducing emissions in the most efficient way possible."

The Greens - who hold two ministries outside cabinet, including climate change - attacked the scrapping of climate policies.

"Cabinet needs to do better," co-leader Marama Davidson said.

The Greens were the big winner in the TVNZ poll, jumping four points, which Ms Davidson said was understandable after Gabrielle, New Zealand's biggest storm in decades.

"People are feeling the impacts of climate change. We are the consistent party to offer up those solutions," she said.

Opposition leader Chris Luxon saw his party's support and his personal support erode in the poll.

While support for Mr Hipkins was seen as the preferred prime minister grew by four to 27 per cent, Mr Luxon dropped five points to 17 per cent.

Mr Luxon said the dip as understandable after an "extraordinary two months" with Kiwis focused on major floods in Auckland and then Gabrielle.

He called for the government needed to go further with its policy purge.

"Today's moves are no more than a rounding error - pocket change in Labour's grand scheme to spend, spend, spend with nothing to show for it," Mr Luxon said.

Last month, Mr Hipkins ditched a public media merger, deferring hate speech legislation and a social insurance scheme in phase one of his post-Ardern reset.