National's support remains strong despite controversy over deportations from Australia and Prime Minister John Key's assertion that the opposition was backing "rapists and murderers".

Support for Mr Key as preferred Prime Minister did dip slightly to 38.3 per cent (down 1.2 per cent since September) in the latest 3 News/Reid Research poll.

However, he remains well ahead of Andrew Little (steady at 10.4 per cent), Winston Peters at 9.3 per cent and Jacinda Ardern - not chosen for the Labour deputy leader position - at 4.2 per cent.

The poll of 1000 people was conducted from November 9 to 17, the period which saw extraordinary scenes in Parliament after Mr Key accused Labour of "backing rapists", during heated debate about Kiwi detainees in Australia.


A large number of Opposition MPs, mostly women, left the debating chamber in protest after Speaker David Carter refused to make Mr Key apologise.

Several of them, including Greens' Metiria Turei, Jan Logie and Catherine Delahunty revealed they were victims of assault and had taken personal offence at the Prime Minister's accusation.

Despite the controversy, the 3 News/Reid Research poll showed National's support was steady on 46.7 per cent, down 0.6 per cent.

Labour was also down slightly to 32.3 per cent (down 0.7 per cent), while support for the Greens was steady on 10.2 per cent, and New Zealand First fell slightly to 7.5 per cent (down 0.4 per cent).

If the results are translated to Parliament's 121 seats, National and its coalition partners would be able to scrape through with 61.

Labour (39 seats) and the Greens (12) would fall short, even with the support of NZ First (9).

Of the smaller parties, the Maori Party was at 1.3 per cent (up 0.8 per cent), while Act and the Conservative Party were below one per cent.

The poll has a margin of error of +/- 3.5 per cent.