There are five days of campaigning to go and it couldn't be closer, with National and Labour basically even in the polls and the rest jockeying for positions that could decide who is in Government after September 23.
Rounding the turn into the home straight of the last week of the election campaign, Labour and National are essentially neck and neck on average across the latest four opinion polls.
There are still over 100 hours of campaigning and one full televised leaders debate to go on Wednesday night. Labour had the momentum through August and into early September, but that appears to have waned in the polls in the last week as National's tax attack took effect.
The three most regular public polls, TVNZ's Colmar Brunton, Newshub's Reid Research and Roy Morgan, show a range of positions for Labour and National that centre on them both being around 40 percent. Another less regularly published poll from Horizon Research has them both around 38 percent.
The four polls have more variable measures of support for New Zealand First and Greens. The main question around the smaller parties is whether the Greens will make it over the five percent threshold needed to get back into Parliament and whether New Zealand First will get just above the threshold to around six or seven percent, or whether it is closer to eight or nine percent.
These polls have been accurate in the final week of the campaign when compared with previous actual election results for Labour and National. But they have tended to over-estimate support for the Greens by a percentage point or three and under-estimate support for New Zealand First by a similar margin.
Without any further changes in the next five days, the odds still slightly favour a Labour-New Zealand First Government ahead of a National-New Zealand First Government, with much smaller chances of a Labour-Green-Maori coalition or a National-ACT-Maori coalition.
The latest Roy Morgan poll taken by landline and mobile from August 28 to September 10 found support for National at 40 percent, down 2.5 percent from the Roy Morgan poll taken a month earlier.
Support for Labour was up 14.4 percent from the previous poll at 39.5 percent. Support for Greens was at nine percent, unchanged from a month ago. New Zealand First support was down 5.5 percent to six percent.
The Maori Party was up 0.5 percent to two percent. The Opportunities Party was unchanged at two percent and ACT was down 0.2 percent at 0.5 percent.
This chart above is the latest RNZ poll of polls that averages the polls above and has added in some unpublished polls from Curia for National and UMR for Labour.
There is one published poll that was not included in this RNZ poll of polls.
On Friday, Horizon Research published its poll of 846 registered voters randomly selected from an online panel found support for Labour at 38.2 percent and support for National at 38.5 percent. New Zealand First had support of 9.8 percent and Green support was at 7.7 percent.
The poll taken from September 9 to 14 was weighted by region, gender and age to ensure it represented the adult New Zealand population as at the last census. It found support for The Opportunities Party at 2.3 percent, ACT at 1.4 percent and the Maori Party at 0.6 percent.
The poll found support for Labour was strongest among women (42 percent of women support Labour and 33 percent support National, while 44 percent of men support National and 34 percent support Labour) and the young (52 percent of 18-24 year olds support Labour and 25 percent support National.)
Combinations and scenarios
The key things deciding who will lead the Government will include:
which of the two major parties gets the largest vote share over 40 percent,
how close Winston Peters can drag New Zealand First towards 10 percent,
whether the Greens get back into Parliament, and,
how many Maori MPs can be dragged in on the coat-tails of Te Ururoa Flavell in Waiariki.
There are so many variables in that above list that calling an election result or the makeup of a Government virtually impossible, or at least unwise at this stage. We will have at least three new poll results to use in any calculations by this coming Friday.
Jet fuel in an election
Auckland Airport's jet fuel shortage featured on the campaign trail today with National fending off questions about what it could have done to produce a back-up to the single pipeline from the Marsden Point Refinery to the Wiri oil terminal near the terminal.
Over 2,000 Air New Zealand passengers have been affected and over 27 flights cancelled because of a shortage of jet fuel at Auckland Airport after a digger hunting for swamp kauri damaged the pipeline in a peat swamp near Ruakaka. The pipe burst on Thursday and may not be fixed for 10 days.
The Government was warned about the risks of a broken pipe or a Wiri outage in 2012, but decided the costs of providing a backup pipeline between the main pipeline ($15 milllion) and the airport or extra jet fuel storage capacity ($57 million) were too high relative to the risk of the pipeline being cut or the terminal being out of action.
Labour Leader Jacinda Ardern said the Government had been short-sighted in choosing not spend any money on improving resilience of fuel supplies for Auckland. She said the Government needed to invest in securing fuel supply, but was not specific about what Labour would do.
"We just can't afford to cut corners on infrastructure - and yet we have seen National take this approach on other issues too. They have failed to invest adequately in Auckland’s transport infrastructure, dragged the chain on the city’s Central Rail Link while running down our public infrastructure such as hospitals and schools," Ardern said.
“We need to make securing Auckland’s fuel supply a priority, and that means making the investments necessary so that business, exporters and travellers are not exposed again," she said.
National Leader Bill English said oil companies owned the infrastructure and any extra costs incurred in building extra resiliency would have had to have been passed on to consumers, and therefore the investments had not been made.
New Zealand First Leader Winston Peters said the pipeline break proved the need for a new rail line to Marsden Point.
Jacinda Ardern is campaigning in Whanganui.
Bill English is campaigning in the Hawkes Bay.
The final leaders debate is on Wednesday night on TVNZ.
The election is on Saturday, although voting booths are already open and over 300,000 have already voted, which is twice as many voted at the same stage in the 2014 election campaign.
(Updated 12.15 pm)