When it comes to Budget 2018, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is sticking by the script designed to lower expectations of a big bang on Thursday and to reinforce the message of "building" and "rebuilding" over time.

"Budget 2018 is about transforming the economy and rebuilding the foundations of health, education and housing to improve the living standards of all New Zealanders," she said at her post-Cabinet press conference.

She announced that she will be visiting North Shore hospital of Friday, a sure sign that the health sector can expect a large portion of the $8 billion extra over four years that Labour promised before the 2017 election.

National says it left a healthy economy and the Labour-led Government needs to lower expectations because it over-promised.


Ardern and Finance Minister Grant Robertson suggest the "rebuilding" will take longer because of years of negligence by National.

Ardern reiterated the concept of "building the foundations" when a reporter asked what direction New Zealanders should expect.

"We've pointed out for some time now as a Government that in this Budget we will build the strong foundations for the future and that does mean reinvesting in [things] like housing, like health, like education, those core fundamental services," she said.

"And we've acknowledged we won't be able to do it all in one budget," she said.

"We will build over time. But I see what we are doing in this is being transformative because it is not just about our services. It is also about how we transform the investment in our economy."

Ardern rehearsed the "rebuilding the foundations" theme on Sunday in a keynote speech in Auckland where she announced more funding for Learning Support - the services for children who need extra help for disabilities or behavioural or speech problems.

Meanwhile in the build-up to the Budget, National leader Simon Bridges is dwelling on the theme of tax cuts and tax hikes for middle-income earners.

He contrasted the Australian Budget last week where the Government and Opposition both promised tax cuts to middle-income earners.

"Meanwhile over here our Finance Minister has cancelled the tax threshold changes for middle-income earners that would have made them $1060 a year better off, and is instead loading on new [fuel] taxes."

The Coalition Government scrapped National's tax measures to address bracket creep which would have meant an extra $20 a week for anyone earning more than $52,000.

Ardern's favourite Budget words

• Building/ Rebuilding

• Foundations

• Together/ for all

• Transformative