For a brief moment, National Party leader Bill English knew what it felt like to be Donald Trump.

During an announcement about a new highway in Nelson today, his supporters took a leaf out of the US President's songbook.

"Build the road! Build the road! Build the road!" they chanted.

The 7km Nelson Southern Link, announced by English today, is a less ambitious project than the promised border wall between the US and Mexico.


But that didn't dampen his supporters' enthusiasm.

"Build the road! Build the road! Build the road!" National supporters chanted in Nelson today as PM Bill English announced the 7km Nelson Southern Link highway. Photo / Michael Cunningham

They started up the chant again minutes later during a press conference in a bid to drown out reporters' pesky questions about whether the National Party leaked Winston Peters' pension details.

Unlike his American counterpart, English took the reporters' side, telling his supporters to quieten down.

"The media have a job to do."

It was English's busiest day of the campaign trail so far. It started at a school in Richmond, where he promised four weeks' more paid parental leave and support for parents using IVF. It was a major policy announcement, but the kids had more pressing questions.

Why do you wear a suit?

"I have to for work," English said. "But I don't always want to."

How are you so tall?


"It's something I've been working on for a while."

Having fielded those thorny questions, he set off for lunch with the newly-formed Young Nats branch. Then it was on to the roading announcement next to a white-sand beach in full Nelson sunshine.

"Make sure you clap when he arrives," a National party staffer said to the gathered supporters. "We want lots of noise."

The waterfront road which National was replacing was lined by Green Party billboards - it is the only electorate in the country which the party is trying to win.

"Nelson - it's like Tauranga but with more lefties." Transport Minister and Tauranga MP Simon Bridges noted.

English ended the visit at a Grey Power meeting in a church, attended by around 250 people. He was in his comfort zone, talking about the strong economy and the performance of NZ Super - safe in the knowledge that no one in the room would be affected by National's plans to raise the pension age in 20 years.

It was mostly plain sailing until the questions started on housing. Then there was a question on voluntary euthanasia, prompting murmurs from the crowd.

English was frank: "The Government will not be doing anything about it."

"I think he dodged the question," said Ron Sharplin, who asked about it because a friend who had "faded away to an unconscious corpse".

Will he still vote for him?