Poll results in recent days have shown Labour has had a surge in popularity, thanks to the appointment of its new leader Jacinda Ardern, and possibly the demise of Metiria Turei.

For a party that has been languishing in the polls for years, the new wave of support Ardern has brought must be a pleasant change.

I'd say it's probably given National a bit of a reality check as well.

While Andrew Little led Labour, all signs were pointing to another disappointment at the polling booths come September.


But now, with Ardern as an opponent, Bill English is going to come under the spotlight even more.

English was a great deputy leader for John Key, the reliable and loyal thinking man who appeared happy to stay in the background and work on policy while Key was the charismatic party leader keeping middle New Zealand happy with his reputation as a safe pair of hands.

With Key gone, English was a safe bet against Little - neither of them really had any of that hard-to-define quality of a loved leader, charisma, but the country knows English and knows he's unlikely to change National's steady-as-she-goes approach.

It looked like National would sail comfortably into a fourth term, likely with a much narrower win than the last election, but a win nonetheless.

Now, National has been thrown a real challenge.

Ardern has the charisma that English and Little lack. She's got a reputation for being down to earth and an everyman - she's not afraid to laugh at herself, but she's quick to call out anyone she thinks is acting badly.

With a successive run of "safe" middle-aged white men at the helm of the party, Labour always seemed to me like they were trying to copy National's success by selecting the kind of leader they thought New Zealand wanted, one like Key who wouldn't rock the boat too much, rather than trying to find someone that set them apart from National.

It's been less than two weeks since Ardern was appointed Labour's leader, and she's already catching up to English.

In the results from the latest Newshub-Reid Research poll, English was the preferred prime minister of 27.7 per cent of people surveyed, compared to Ardern's 26.3 per cent.

The same poll had Labour's support rising from 24.1 per cent to 33.1 per cent, while National was only slightly down 0.8 per cent to 44.4 per cent.

It will be a hard slog for Labour to completely overtake National at the voting booths next month, but they're looking better now than they have for years, thanks to Ardern.

It goes to show what a difference a strong personality can make.