Labour leader Jacinda Ardern began her speech to the Labour Party campaign launch by marking the death of Sir Colin Meads, "a great New Zealander."

"Sir Colin will go down in history as a great New Zealander and all of our thoughts are with his family today."

Ardern officially kicked off her campaign telling supporters at the Auckland Town Hall that this was Labour's moment and it was time to "be bold and be brave."

The campaign was attended by more than 1000 people and opened by singer Holly Smith singing Herbs' song Sensitive to a Smile.

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Ardern has been leader for three weeks and it was her first major speech to party faithful, buoyed by the surge in the polls since she was elected.

She said in her first three weeks "I've never once felt alone."

"Their question for all of us - for you and for me - is this: now what? One we redouble our efforts. Now we be bold and now we be brave. This is our moment."

"We have some hard calls to make. I will never stop believing that politics is a place where we can do good."

Ardern said she refused to accept the status quo, pointing to the gap between rich and poor, homelessness, climate change, the regions and infrastructure problems.

She also tackled the questions on her economic nous compared to that of Prime Minister Bill English head on.

"You will never hear me question the importance of a strong economy. Never.

"But the major point of difference on economic issues this election is not how long either leader has spent working with Treasury - it's what we use as the signs of success.

"I will always maintain a successful economy is one that serves its people. Not the other way round and that means judging success differently."

She said her priority was children, and Labour would change the Public Finance Act to ensure the number of children in poverty was reported on - as well as deficits and surpluses.

She said GDP rates and "numbers of a sheet of paper" did not tell much about the wellbeing of people.

She said that meant "revolutionising" education.

When she was at school she worked at a fish and chip shop, a gift shop and a supermarket to try and raise money for university without the need for a loan.

"My wages basically kept my 1979 Toyota Corona on the road."

She said she had choices which others did not, which was why Labour's policy was to introduce three years free tertiary education.

Despite rising GDP, she said people should be doing better in term of wages and cost of living.

She also ran through issues such as climate change, the gap between rich and poor and infrastructure.

Ardern paid tribute to Andrew Little, who she took over from.

She said he had given everything to leading the team, pulling it together in two years and setting the groundwork for a campaign.

"You then made one of the hardest calls I have seen someone make in politics. You have always been focused on doing whatever it takes to put Labour in the best position to help others - and that is a legacy I promise to uphold."

She spoke of her own background, joking that her tagline of "relentlessly positive" came from her birth in Hamilton "where everyone is always optimistic that the fog will life. Literally."

She said growing up in Murupara during the 1980s had given her some understanding of the issues communities faced.

She spoke of the Labour Prime Ministers who had gone before her and what they had delivered - from the welfare state and no-nukes policy.

"For me it's simple: I want to build a country where every child grows up free from poverty and is filled with hope and opportunity."

Ardern again acknowledged Meads after her campaign launch. "I did have the privilege of meeting Sir Colin Meads on occasion and he was such an absolutely legend and will be sadly, sadly missed."

Earlier:

Labour Party faithful are at the Auckland Town Hall for the party's campaign launch today.

More than 1000 supporters are expected for the launch and leader Jacinda Ardern's first major speech to the party since becoming leader.

Ardern can expect a rapturous reception - the mood is buoyant after polls showing a big surge in support for the party drawing close to National.

Former Prime Minister Helen Clark has been given a standing ovation at the Labour Party campaign launch in Auckland - her first appearance at a party election event since 2008. Photo / Michael Craig
Former Prime Minister Helen Clark has been given a standing ovation at the Labour Party campaign launch in Auckland - her first appearance at a party election event since 2008. Photo / Michael Craig

Former Prime Minister Helen Clark is also attending - her first appearance at a party election event since she left after the 2008 election.

Surprise celebrity guests are also expected - Ardern has strong links to the creative community in Auckland.

Clark has been given a standing ovation at the Labour Party launch - the first time she has attended a major party event since 2008. Clark is at the launch with husband Peter Davis.

The main floor and all the balconies are full of jubilant supporters in the Auckland Town Hall.

Former Prime Minister Helen Clark at the Labour Party campaign launch with husband Peter Davis. Photo / Michael Craig
Former Prime Minister Helen Clark at the Labour Party campaign launch with husband Peter Davis. Photo / Michael Craig

Supporters are chanting "everybody, let's do this" as they wait for the launch to start.

The Auckland Town Hall is now at full capacity - meaning more than 1400 supporters are at the launch and the overflow is heading into the Q Theatre.

Labour's celebrity packed campaign launch has kicked off with singer Holly Smith, singing the Herbs' Sensitive to a Smile.

The MC was comedian Michele A'Court, who said it was a special moment in history, and the party had the chance to make a difference in Aotearoa.

The leader of the Scottish Labour Party, Keshia Dugdale, was also at the launch - but the loudest cheers were when A'Court announced Helen Clark's name.

Don McGlashan is the next musician in line at Labour's campaign launch, where numbers have now reportedly swelled to 2200 - filling the Town Hall and the Q Theatre.

McGlashan kicked off by saying he had a nightmare in which he was met by Labour MP Phil Twyford dressed as a giraffe.

"Haven't you heard," Twyford said to him. "Children now have the vote. Your panda costume is over there."

McGlashan endorsed Ardern, saying New Zealanders had to decide who could be trusted.

"I trust Jacinda Ardern and her team."At this moment do we opt for business as usual, or do we put down a marker?"

A'Court said she was friends with Ardern and got "ticked off" when people had dismissed her.

"In recent weeks some people have begun to notice things many of us have known about Jacinda for a long time. She's strong and won't take any crap. We've seen her make Paddy Gower gush and we've seen her make Mark Richardson blush. She is formidable."