A New Zealand poll has shown that opposition to same-sex marriage has risen, with 48% now polling against – up from 40.5% last June.

According to the new poll by the New Zealand Herald opposition to same-sex marriage has increased. The survey found that 48% of New Zealanders that took part believe marriage should remain between a man and a woman – that’s 7.5% more than last year’s poll.

Although a small majority of New Zealanders surveyed still support gay people’s right to marry, their number has also fallen by 4% since last summer.

It has been noted that the methodology for the Herald DigiPoll differed from last year, and this may have had some effect on the outcome.

The poll was taken during the week of the second reading of a bill to legalise same-sex marriage in New Zealand. At the critical vote it passed by MPs 77 to 44, amid intense lobbying on both sides. The third reading will follow the debate in the next few weeks.

Founder of anti-gay-marriage group Family First, Bob McCoskrie, said it was “absolute baloney” that his group had influenced the polls.

“We get past the slogans of equality and discrimination and start asking the bigger questions such as “do we need to change the long-held definition of marriage or can we provide legal rights through the Civil Union Act?”,” said McCoskrie.

Labour MP Louisa Wall, the bill’s sponsor, told the New Zealand Herald that the majority still supports same-sex marriage “despite the opposition spending what seems vast amounts of money on an active and negative campaign built on fear and misinformation.”

Christian group New Zealanders for Marriage is planning to hold a vigil outside the parliament in Wellington tomorrow night to show their opposition to same-sex marriage.

“Changing the legal definition and therefore the meaning of the word marriage doesn’t change what it has always been – a unique covenant between a man and a woman,” said a spokesperson from the group.

The bill proposing to legalise same-sex marriage will be debated in parliament tonight. Extending the protection of religious freedoms and preventing the change in law from affecting adoptions are amendments to be discussed.