As it happened: Final Leaders Debate - John Key vs David Cunliffe

National Party leader John Key and Labour Party leader David Cunliffe squared off on TV ONE in the final Leaders Debate before Saturday's election. The moderator was Mike Hosking.

The debate was followed by a live-streamed discussion on hosted by Heather du Plessis-Allan with political commentators Matthew Hooton and Mike Williams and Dr Jennifer Lees-Marshment, an academic in political marketing at Auckland University.

6.50pm:John Key and David Cunliffe get ready at TVNZ in Auckland for the debate's 7pm start in the studio, sitting at a round table.

7.01pm:Key says he doesn't need to ring America about the US spying on us because he doesn't think they are. "There has never been any evidence to support that. There's no mass surveillance by the GCSB on New Zealanders there never has been."

"They may under their own laws legitimately gather some information about New Zealanders."

7.05pm:Hosking to Key on GCSB - "You haven't been able to explain it." Key on spying on allies. "I'm not going to go into that. Key on spy agencies "I tell you why we have them...NZers face real threats. And as PM I can walk away from protecting people, or do my job."

7.08pm:Cunliffe has backed up Key, saying the point of a foreign intelligence service is to be able to look offshore.

"New Zealanders have a right to be protected on that I agree with John but New Zealanders have a right for their privacy to be protected unless there is a good reason for the state to override it."

7.10pm:Final debate very fast paced so far. From spying to numbers to coalition possibilities within 5 minutes.

7.11pm:The two leaders refused to move on from mass surveillance. Hosking has to tell them to stop it, were done.

7.12pm:Key "If you want steak for dinner tonight, go and buy steak. If you want a National Government, party vote National."

Cunliffe says the latest poll hangs on whether Colin Craigs Conservatives get across the line.

"I don't think the policies that party stands for represents the diverse modern future of New Zealand."

7.15pm:Key claims Labour has to have the Internet Party and can't govern without it. Hosking counters that National may need several parties.

7.17pm:Cunliffe speaks positively about NZ First. Key says he'll have "good faith" discussions with Peters.

7.18pm:Cunliffe says Green Party and NZ First MPs would not be appointed the leadership or finance portfolios if Labour wins the election. The rest of it is up for negotiation.

Key pushing Cunliffe about Greens distancing themselves from Labour last week.

7.20pm:Cunliffe says John has a very different basket of fish to work with. Hes got a couple of extreme right-wing parties some people would call weirdos.

7.25pm:Hosking asks about leadership.

Cunliffe: "I'm not sparing a brain cell for what happens after the vote."

Key: "I don't have a plan B. Plan A is to win." Says he'll stay for three years.

Key thinks national will get around 47%. He says National will have potentially a lot of options on Saturday night.

7.27pm:Cunliffe thinks centre left will get around 50%. "The election is on a "knifes edge and Labour, Greens and NZ First will get 50% plus one between the three of them.

Key says he believes Trevor Mallard will lose Hutt South on Saturday.

7.30pm:Key on campaign regrets: "Too much time has been spent on one individual. Too much time has been spent on things that New Zealanders don't care that much about."

Cunliffe on campaign regrets: "not really".

The two leaders shake hands and wish each other good luck.

Panel discussion starts after ad break

7.35pm:Hooton says Cunliffe would have needed a real blinder to have won the debate. He didnt do to John Key what say David Lange did to Muldoon.

7.40pm:Mike Williams says its a definitely no no for leaders to touch each other during the debate as Key did to Cunliffe at one stage in the debate. He was under stress&its been a long, hard campaign for John Key, Williams says.

The National leader is out of touch, says Williams.

"I think lamb chops are actually dearer than steak."

7.58pm:Jennifer Lees-Marshment says Key didnt talk about what National will do going forward. Voters always want to see something new.

8.10pm:Williams picks Cunliffe as the winner over the four leaders debates "by a small margin".

Lees-Marshment says "the same" - picks Cunliffe.

Hooton picks Key because he caught out Cunliffe on capital gains tax in the Christchurch debate.

Key compares Labour to a lamb chop, while Cunliffe says Kiwis can't even afford mince. Source: 1 NEWS

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