Key Points:

Labour's top guns have begun openly courting the vote of senior citizens, as New Zealand First - which traditionally enjoys good support from the elderly - lurches through an ongoing political donation scandal.

Prime Minister Helen Clark and senior minister Trevor Mallard both went to Grey Power meetings in the Hutt Valley yesterday to preach their record of higher pension payments, lower debt and bigger hearing aid subsidies.

Asked if she was making special effort to target the constituency given the woes of Winston Peters, Helen Clark argued she had been going to Grey Power meetings for years.

"We've enjoyed good support from older New Zealanders in the past, I think it was particularly important in 1999 and 2002," she said.

"What I know about older New Zealanders is they do vote, they feel it's very much their civic duty, their public duty, they do listen very carefully and they go out and make a considered judgment."

New Zealand First polled 5.7 per cent of the vote in the 2005 election and much of its support now comes from the elderly.

Mr Peters has been an advocate of policies like higher superannuation payments, the SuperGold discount card and free off-peak travel on public transport for senior citizens.

But Labour has also been a willing participant in bringing those policies to fruition. It hopes to get some payback for making the policies a reality.

Helen Clark was relaxed and smiling when she arrived at a modest Lower Hutt hall yesterday afternoon to talk to around 250 Grey Power members.

Ahead of the November 8 election she chose to highlight her Government's "prudent, predictable, steady" credentials - and contrasted them with what she said was her opponent's stupid plan to take on more debt and give bigger tax cuts at a time of international financial turmoil.

The grey-haired audience gave that argument a positive response and then they got a gentle reminder that the last National government of the 1990s made changes to superannuation that reduced the rate of increase of pension payments.

Helen Clark's words gave a clear indication she will be campaigning over the next seven weeks on her Government's record while raising doubts about what National would do in power.

She didn't once mention the words "National" or "John Key", but instead talked of her "opponents" and "the Opposition".

The Prime Minister signalled new policy announcements would be made in the areas of health, housing and education, and she also made an emotive pitch around her decision not to send troops into Iraq.

The only difficult moments at the meeting came when she was questioned about why all murderers didn't stay in jail for life, what the Government was doing to help investors who lost money in failed finance companies, and why people couldn't get full pensions from both the UK and New Zealand.

Afterwards, most of the senior citizens present were polite about how Helen Clark was shaping up.

"She's very talented, she spoke very much to the audience and didn't promise anything that couldn't be done," one woman told the Herald.

Another couple of women said they would definitely be voting for Labour - as they had done for around the past 20 years.