Prime Minister Bill English has hit out at talk of NZ First leader Winston Peters as the kingmaker, saying it was not up to Peters to choose the next Government - it was up to voters.
"I'll make this point. Winston Peters does not decide who the Government is. The voters do. And I don't like the way it's presumed - I'm sure by him but by commentators and others - that somehow this election is all about his decision.
"It's not, it's about your decision. I know it's a bit old-fashioned."
At a meeting attended by about 100 people and hosted by National's Ohariu candidate Brett Hudson in Ngaio, English was asked about the "elephant in the room" - Winston Peters - and what he would have to "trade away" to form a Government.
On current polls, neither Labour nor National would be able to form a government without NZ First.
English said his priority was to get National's party vote as high as possible so he could form a strong Government after the election.
"The voters will make their choice and they will decide what cards they deal us."
He said it would be a choice between a strong National-led Government or "Mr Peters and the Labour Party and whatever's left over of the Greens once Labour's stopped savaging them".
"That's not going to make for very coherent government."
English was at the meeting with wife Mary and daughter Maria.
Hudson is now campaigning to win the Ohariu seat after United Future leader Peter Dunne gave up, saying he did not believe he could win against Labour's Greg O'Connor.
The loss of Dunne could make it harder for English to form a government.
English joked that it was a pleasure to be able to "unleash" Hudson after National had asked its voters to tick Dunne for the past two elections.
English also hit out at Labour's tax policies and the policy to offer three years of free fees to school leavers - a policy expected to cost more than $700 million a year by 2021.
It would be funded by scrapping National's tax cuts. English said Ardern was also running on an average of two new taxes a week, pointing to the Auckland fuel tax, water levies, a tourist tax and her refusal to rule out a capital gains tax.
He said he had met workers such as checkout operators and fish factory staff on his campaign.
"And I'm thinking, do we really need to tax them more so we can make university education cheaper? And our answer is no. We think they are paying their fair share.
"Because that is who pays. There isn't some Government with a whole bucket of money somewhere. It's just taxpayers."