On the same day Labour slumped to a low of 24 per cent in a poll, Labour leader Andrew Little voiced frustration at the drawn-out saga of Green co-leader Metiria Turei's confession of welfare fraud, saying it had become a distraction.
Speaking at Labour's Maori campaign launch Little stopped short of criticising Turei and did not even name her, but said the welfare issue was not just about one person.
Little's speech was after he was told the results of the latest One News Colmar Brunton poll, which had Labour down at 24 per cent while the Greens were up at 15 per cent. He told One News, the Greens would have to work out if their strategy to get votes was wise in the long run.
In his speech he raised the topic of the Green Party and NZ First - Labour's preferred Government partners in the future.
"Wouldn't it be great if the debate right now was about the way many people on benefit actually live? Because it's not about one person.
It's not about one MP who was on a benefit 20 years ago and had a rough time. It's about what's happening to people today. So where is the debate about that?"
"We ain't having that debate. We are having a debate about one individual."
In an apparent bid to stop Labour's vote slipping to NZ First, Little also had a jab at NZ First and its refusal to say whether it would side with National or Labour.
"A vote for NZ First is not a vote and is not a guarantee to change the Government. They've been pretty clear. They can go with anyone. They aren't guaranteeing to change the Government."
He poked fun at its bottom lines. "I think we're up to eight bottom lines now. Does my bottom look big in this?"
He rejected one of those so-called bottom lines - NZ First leader Winston Peters' wish for a binding referendum on the Maori seats.
"I will never, ever agree that the Maori seats should go. They are a hugely important source of representation for Maori, have been for generations. It's not negotiable. Take that as your bottom line."
Little addressed the issue of Labour's polling, conceding it had "looked a bit rough" lately.
"And I get that. But I look at what the Labour Party stands for, what we've spent the last three years talking about - our kaupapa. And it is a strong kaupapa."
He urged supporters to keep that message uppermost in their minds and to campaign hard.
Little said afterwards he had raised the issue of polling because it was better to deal with those issues head on.
The party's Maori campaign organiser Willie Jackson also warned supporters some bad poll results for Labour were on the horizon, but a lot could change between now and the election.
"Look, in the next couple of days you're going to hear that the polls are down. I don't want anyone to worry about what the polls say because eight weeks is a long time in politics. If we campaign well, if we do the business what we've lost in the last six weeks we can pick up in the next eight weeks."
He said the Maori campaign was strong and a lot could happen in eight weeks.
"My heart goes out to our leader a bit. I think he's been under a hell of a lot of pressure because he's coming out with terrific policies.
But they're not listening at the moment."
Jackson was in talks with the Maori Party until he was poached by Labour leader Andrew Little earlier this year with the promise of a winnable list ranking.
He conceded his list ranking might not be enough to get him into Parliament on current polls.
He also hurled a broadside at the Maori Party, saying the amount of money going to Maori communities in programmes such as Whanau Ora was "crumbs and peanuts".