Maori voters still prefer Labour over National, but support John Key as prime minister over Phil Goff, according to a new poll.

The Te Karere digi-poll, which surveyed 1002 Maori voters by telephone in January, found that 36.9 per cent of respondents would vote for Labour and 36.2 per cent would vote for the Maori Party.

National had less than half the votes of the two leading parties, sitting on 16.8 per cent, while the Greens got 4.5 per cent, New Zealand First 2.3 per cent and Act 0.8 per cent.

However, Mr Key got a ringing endorsement for his position as the country's leader, with 26.8 per cent favouring him for the top job.

Maori Party co-leaders Tariana Turia and Pita Sharples each returned 7.8 per cent of the vote as preferred prime minister, NZ First leader Winston Peters came in next on 7 per cent, and Labour leader Mr Goff trailed behind on 6.4 per cent.

More than half the voters, 50.7 per cent, said they did not think the Government was heading in the right direction, while 39.3 per cent said it was.

The results were similar to those in a poll conducted at the same time last year.

Only a quarter of Labour Party voters among the respondents said Mr Goff was the right person to lead Labour, with 56.6 per cent saying he was not.

The margin of error for the poll was 3.1 per cent.

-NZPA