Labour leader, candidate refuse to back themselves in Northland

Labour leader Andrew Little has refused to ask voters to back his party's candidate in his second and last visit to Northland before its upcoming by-election.

Andrew Little joined a candidate he's admitted has no chance of winning Northland. Source: 1 NEWS

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters and National candidate Mark Osborne are in a tight battle for the Northland seat, with early polling showing them neck-and-neck, and Labour's Willow-Jean Prime lagging behind.

When asked by ONE News who locals should vote for in the by-election, Mr Little repeatedly shied away from supporting Ms Prime.

"No, they are going to look around and they have to make the decision about what's best. If they want to say they are sick and tired of being neglected, they are going to have to decide how they do that and vote accordingly," he said.

Even Ms Prime refused to say voters should back her.

"I'm not here to tell people how to vote. It's a choice for them to make."

Mr Osborne says Labour has sacrificed their own candidate to give Mr Peters a better chance.

"They seem to have thrown poor Willow-Jean under the bus, under Winston's bus in fact. Look, that's up to them. We're running our own campaign."

Nearly 4000 people have advance voted in the by-election already - more than double the number at the equivalent time in the General Election.

Voter turnout will be crucial in this race with the National Party get-out-and-vote machine much bigger than others.