National leader Bill English says he is happy with National's campaign despite slipping in the polls and believed the "stardust" over Labour's new leader Jacinda Ardern would wear off before the election.
In the Stuff Leaders' debate, English had said he was not worried about National slipping further in the latest poll and believed people were now focusing more on policies.
"Now the stardust has settled you're starting to see the policy."
Asked afterwards what he meant by "stardust" he said it was a way to describe the "excitement" of a new leader.
"That subsides and people get to make a choice about electing a Prime Minister and a Government and that's a different process."
The 1 News Colmar Brunton poll had National on 39 - its lowest result since 2005 - and Labour on 43.
English said that differed from National's internal polls and he believed voters were starting to see Labour's policies as "vague."
He said it was an unusual campaign with the change of leader so close to an election: "it is clearly that phase of excitement that is coming to an end as people consider the real choices."
Ardern said her goal was on keeping up Labour's momentum to get as strong as possible.
She did not find the "stardust" reference offensive, but had been slightly confused about what it had meant - "at first, perhaps it's from being a child of the '80s, stardust didn't seem that offensive to me."
She said she disagreed if there was any inference that she was all about style rather than substance, saying Labour had comprehensive policies and English was only moving now to promise action in areas he had had nine years to address - from child poverty to dirty rivers.
English said he was more than happy to pit his own leadership style against Ardern. The "terrible beauty of democracy" was "we have our say and they decide."
"An election is a test not so much of whether you're new but whether you're clear about what you want to achieve and whether you can actually deliver on it. I'm very happy that in that contest, I'm going to do okay."
He said Labour's campaign had focused strongly on its leader and less open what it would do.
"They've created an awful lot of uncertainty, particularly around their tax policy. We are happy with how the campaign is being run."
He was confident people would find National's menu of tax cuts appealing as they focused on the choices ahead.
"What we are seeing is people now engaging with the choice and starting to see that the policies we are rolling out are going to support the ongoing confidence that they have and deal with a lot of the issues they are keen to see dealt with like water quality, poverty and social dysfunction."
Asked what the difference was to National relying on former PM John Key's "stardust" for three elections in a row, English said Key had a strong team and effective policy behind him which had resulted in the strong economy and return to surplus.
Ardern had slammed him in the debate, saying National had nine years to address those issues and was only now getting round to it.
In return English had tackled Ardern about the lack of clarity on taxes and for "insulting" farmers by indicating they had done nothing to address water quality.
Ardern is yet to meet with the farmers who would be affected by the water charges she is proposing and said she was happy to do so - but possibly not until after the election.