Days before its first anniversary, John Key's minority National Government has received a ringing endorsement from voters for its handling of the international financial crisis.
The first Herald-DigiPoll survey since last year's election shows close to 80 per cent of respondents rated the Government's performance in dealing with the effect of the global recession on New Zealand as good, very good or excellent.
Barely 20 per cent rated the Government's response to the recession as not good or poor.
Those polled were less willing to give the plaudits for National's economic management to Finance Minister Bill English, possibly because of unhappiness over his claiming a taxpayer-funded, living-outside-Wellington accommodation allowance when he has lived for years in the capital.
Even so, nearly 64 per cent of respondents rated his performance good to excellent.
Speaking from Tokyo yesterday, the Prime Minister singled out his Finance Minister for praise, saying the poll result was an endorsement of Bill English and the Government's economic leadership.
"We have a plan and we are implementing it," Mr Key added, making a pointed reference to Labour's beginning-of-year claim that the Government did not have a plan for coping with the forecast numbers of jobless and criticism of the Prime Minister's "rolling maul" release of job-saving and job-training schemes through the year.
The DigiPoll survey confirms party vote trends in other nationwide polls.
Support for National was 57.3 per cent - around 12 points above the level it recorded at last year's election and a record high for the party in the poll's recent history.
Labour is on 32.4 per cent - just below its election result.
The Greens fall short of the 5 per cent MMP threshold and would be out of Parliament if the result was replicated at an election.
Mr Key maintains his big lead in the preferred prime minister ratings with 55.3 per cent, against Labour leader Phil Goff's 6.2.
Social Development Minister Paula Bennett rated a surprise second as Mr Key's most effective minister, behind Mr English but ahead of more senior colleagues such as Judith Collins, Tony Ryall and Simon Power.