NZ National leader Luxon eyes October poll

New Zealand's opposition is forging ahead with its campaign to unseat Labour at this year's poll, irrespective of who leads the government after Jacinda Ardern.

New Zealanders are off to the polls on October 14, with Ms Ardern declaring the election date before announcing her resignation.

Ms Ardern's departure has re-cast the electoral contest, one the centre-right opposition National was already slightly favoured to win.

"We are ready to go," Opposition Leader Chris Luxon said.

While the absence of Ms Ardern could further tilt the field in favour of National, party leader Mr Luxon denied the political landscape had changed with her departure.

"For us, nothing changes," he told Radio NZ.

"I'm not getting caught up in (favouritism).

"The reality for New Zealanders is that this year is incredibly challenging ... the cost of living crisis that's carrying on here in New Zealand is only accentuating.

"Nothing for everyday New Zealanders has actually changed. It's going to get worse."

National held its caucus retreat this week in Napier - the same city and same time as Labour.

As Labour MPs shifted their focus to electing a replacement for Ms Ardern on Sunday, National MPs hit the hustings in Hawke's Bay.

Polling shows National is favoured to win in October and will govern in coalition with the right-wing ACT party if it does.

Ms Ardern was widely seen as Labour's best political asset.

Her Labour predecessor, former prime minister Helen Clark, said she was "deeply saddened" at her resignation.

"The pressures on prime ministers are always great but in this era of social media, clickbait and 24/7 media cycles, Jacinda has faced a level of hatred and vitriol which in my experience is unprecedented in our country," she said.

"Our society could now usefully reflect on whether it wants to continue to tolerate the excessive polarisation which is making politics an increasingly unattractive calling."

Mr Luxon, Opposition Leader since December 2021, doubted misogyny and the vitriol of attacks against Ms Ardern had led to her departure.

Asked if women had a tougher time in politics, Mr Luxon said he was "not sure about that".

"It's a pretty robust environment, politics," he said.

Mr Luxon announced a minor reshuffle while in Napier, promoting former leaders Judith Collins and Todd Muller.

"We are fixated on making sure we do caucus assignments on the basis of performance and talent and contribution," he said.

"I'm a performance guy. That's what it's all about for me and I want to make sure that I can deliver ministers ultimately in a government that are going to get things done for New Zealand."