Key Points:

8.30pm:

The debate comes to an end with a handshake between Clark and Key.

8.28pm:

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Key says his financial and business experience will help NZ ride out the economic crisis. Clark says her experience in the top job makes her the better bet to lead the country.

Clark says she is campaigning for a full term as leader and won't step aside mid-term for Phil Goff.

8.23pm:

Clark says head-to-head debates are best for the main parties. She says minor parties make live debates "a bit of a gameshow".

Clark says she feels vindicated about supporting Winston Peters given the SFO findings but also says Peters is at times a difficult person "to argue due process with". She is open to discussing forming a Government with him.

8.21pm:

Key says he's never given any assurance to the Maori Party not to abolish the Maori seats.

8.10pm:

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John Key has said that he was "pro-tour" during the 1981 Springbok tour that divided New Zealand.

But he also said that while the international economy is in such trouble, there were more pressing things to talk about.

"The Springbok tour just wasn't part of my life," Mr Key said.

Prime Minister Helen Clark who took part in protests against the tour at the time said she was happy that South Africa had ended Apartheid.

8.06pm:

Clark says it's her dream to offer an allowance to all tertiary students. Key says it's a good idea but not affordable in the present climate.

8.02pm:

Under 30 minutes to go in the debate and both leaders have made some good points. Key seems to be holding up to the vast experience of Clark in this forum. The Herald's top political analysts will cast their vote on who came out on top shortly after the debate ends.

7.53pm:

Both leaders say they support police having Tasers. Key goes further saying violent attacks on police and the public are often drug related. Key says "we must get tough on P".

He wants more police out on the street.

Clark says Labour has put 2500 more police on the street during their term in Government. Sainsbury is asking her if more police are needed, she avoids answering the question directly but says gangs need to be dealt with severely.

7.49pm:

Some of the questions coming off YouTube can best be described as amateur. Two young men included some beatbox in their question on sustainability.

A quick glance at the YouTube site shows what TVNZ had to pick from was not all shot in Hollywood. Many of the questions are darkened and the audio is out of time with the visual.

7.44pm:

Key says he'll seek to alter the ETS, saying NZ shouldn't be a world leader because the requirements will be too tough for NZ businesses.

Clark says there's no dispute of the human impact on the world's climate which, she says, is the reason NZ needs to invest in renewable energy.

7.33pm:

Key is asked via Youtube on his measures to manage the economy in these difficult times. He gives no direct answer.

Meanwhile reaction to the debate is being posted on the TVNZ YouTube site with punters using some colourful language.

"Sainsbury, get off your a*** and facilitate this debate," writes a person calling themselves Cardtricks. The poster was referring to the verbal sparring which at times has turned into a shouting match.

Another has asked Helen Clark to shut her "gob" and "stop interrupting Johnny".

7.25pm:

The discussion has moved to affordable housing. Clark announces she has more housing policy to announce tomorrow and backs the Government's shared equity scheme. Key responds that interest rates have doubled under Labour, making housing unaffordable.

Key brings up the shower pressure issue and Clark sees red. "I'm sorry John, I'm sorry John .... you might be used to shouting people down at home....but you won't be shouting me down".

7.17pm:

Manners have gone out the door. Key won't commit to saying no public servants will lose their jobs as part of National's cost cutting. Then he blames Labour for today's announcement of Carter Holt job losses. He's holding his own in the debate, but Clark is thriving in the unstructured jousting which is taking place.

7.12pm:

Voices are starting to be raised. Key is questioning Labour over nine years of no tax cuts. Clark responds that Kiwi salaries have risen by 25 per cent. The two leaders have been placed very close to one another and it's hand-to-hand combat in the early going.

A reminder that the questions for this debate are coming from YouTube and a panel of experts.

7.05pm:

They are underway. John Key answers the first YouTube question about Kiwisaver, comparing Kiwisaver to a gym membership, saying the public may join but will probably leave later. He emphasises that only 20 per cent of workers belong to the programme.

Helen Clark responds that National "is wrecking Kiwisaver".

But she doesn't have time to fully answer. Key jumps in over the top, drowning her out and telling the Prime Minister to "stop misleading the public".

Welcome to this live updates blog of the first TV leaders debate between Prime Minister Helen Clark and National leader John Key, hosted by TV1's

Close Up

host Mark Sainsbury.