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National loses two seats, Labour and Māori Party gain one in New Zealand’s parliament

Māori Party and Waiariki member of parliament of the New Zealand Rawiri Waititi. Photo / Mark Mitchell. Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

WELLINGTON, Nov 6, 2020, NZ Herald. The final election results are in and National has lost two seats, Labour has gained one, the Māori Party is back with two seats and the “yes” campaign on recreational cannabis has lost by a narrow margin, NZ Herald reported.

The Electoral Commission released the results of the 2020 election today, confirming that Māori Party co-leader Rawiri Waititi has won Waiariki over Labour’s Tamati Coffey, who will still be in Parliament as a list MP.

And with an increase from 1 per cent to 1.2 per cent of the party vote, Māori Party co-leader Debbie Ngarewa-Packer will enter Parliament as a list MP.

“I am shocked but thrilled … I can’t wait to get stuck in to the mahi,” Ngarewa-Packer said.

Three seats have changed hands since the provisional results: Labour’s Priyanca Radhakrishnan has won Maungakiekie over National’s Denise Lee, Labour’s Willow-Jean Prime has won Northland over National’s Matt King, and Labour’s Emily Henderson has won Whangārei over National’s Shane Reti.

Reti will remain in Parliament as a list MP, but Lee and King are out of Parliament pending any recounts.

Their electorate losses and list positions mean that Maureen Pugh – who already started packing up her office in anticipation of losing her seat – keeps her place as a National list MP.

Northland is now the country’s most marginal seat, with a 163 vote margin, and King said he will seek a recount. Applications for any recounts have to be filed with a District Court by November 11.

Henderson said she was “knocked-sideways” to discover she was Labour’s new MP in Whangārei, while Green MP Chloe Swarbrick was “incredibly stoked” to have held on to Auckland Central.

The provisional results three weeks ago were: Labour on 49.1 per cent (64 seats), National on 26.8 per cent (35 seats), Act on 8 per cent (10 seats), the Greens on 7.6 per cent (10 seats), and the Māori Party with the seat of Waiariki.

The final results have Labour on 50 per cent (65 seats), National on 25.6 per cent (33 seats), Act on 7.6 per cent (10 seats), the Greens on 7.9 per cent (10 seats), and the Māori Party with 1.2 per cent (two seats).

In the wake of National’s shrunken caucus, Gerry Brownlee has announced he will step down as the party’s deputy leader.

The final referendum results are 65.1 per cent (down 0.1 per cent) supporting the End of Life Choice Bill in the euthanasia vote, and 50.7 per cent (down from 53.1 per cent) voting against legalising recreational cannabis.

Just 67,662 votes separated the cannabis vote.

Māori Party: ‘The Māori waka is back on the water’

Waititi, who has taken over from John Tamihere as party co-leader, said he was humbled and excited.

“We can now confirm that the Māori waka is back on the water and the next three years will be focused on building our movement together to ensure that my six other mates are on that waka with me come 2023,” Waititi said.

“I’m looking forward to getting my hands dirty alongside Debbie, getting to know the electorate better and more importantly understanding how I can advocate for their needs and their aspirations.”

He said he would immediately contact party leaders to discuss “potential working relationships centered on the advancement of Māori”.

He acknowledged Coffey for his service to Waiariki and said the electorate would now effectively have two advocates.

Coffey said he “wouldn’t be human” if he didn’t feel disappointment, but he was still a list MP.

“It was always going to be a really close election and obviously it is still really close. This is no landslide at all.

“There were outside forces at play and I’m happy to publicly and officially concede defeat to Rawiri.”

He added that Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern had reminded him about her previous losses in Auckland Central.

“Stuff like that just makes me realise this is the nature of politics.”

He congratulated Waititi but also put him “on notice” about all of his campaign promises.

“I’ll be holding him accountable to that in this next term of Parliament.”

Ngarewa-Packer said she was “shocked but thrilled” to become a Māori Party MP.

“I can’t wait to get stuck in to the mahi and for the opportunity to serve our people in Parliament – my commitment is that I will be an unapologetic champion for Māori.

“This has taken us by surprise. I was so focused on supporting Rawiri I wasn’t even thinking of getting in myself.

“The Māori Party succeeded against all odds and swam against the tide, our people have sent a message that they want strong Māori voices who will fight for transformative policies. It is now clear that the Māori Party is back, and we are here to stay.”

New Whangārei MP Emily Henderson ‘knocked sideways’

Henderson said she had not been expecting to flip the Whangārei seat, which had the closest margin on election night.

“Heavens no, absolutely not, I was not expecting that. I always felt Whangārei, because of our high social needs, should be Labour but the last time they elected a Labour MP was 1972.

“I’m astonished, incredibly humbled – just knocked sideways really. I’m so thankful to my team in Whangārei and excited to get on with the job.

“Whangārei is a very run down place. My priority is to focus the Government’s attention on addressing social needs and also to get infrastructure investment.”

She highlighted the expansion of Northport and moving the Devonport naval base as just some of the “major issues under discussion”.

As a family court lawyer and criminal law academic, she also hoped to be involved in the Government’s plans for criminal justice reforms.

She thanked Reti for his work in Whangārei.

“It was a very courteous campaign – issues- not person-focused – and the result we’ve got is effectively two MPs for Whangārei. I’m looking forward to working closely with him.”

Willow-Jean Prime: “I can’t believe it”

Northland’s new MP Willow Jean Prime was ecstatic after hearing the news she had taken the electorate – the first time Labour has done so since 1938.

“I was shaking when I found out. I can’t believe it. It is a dream come true.”

Prime was well aware of the 82-year gap since Labour had won an earlier iteration of the electorate. The seat of Bay of Islands was won by teacher and trade unionist Charles Boswell for a single, extended, war-time term.

“I am humbled so many people voted for me,” said Prime, who edged out sitting MP Matt King by 163 votes after special votes were counted. The final tally had Prime on 17,066 votes and King on 16,903.

“I had always tried to be the best voice and representative for Northland in Parliament whether I’m a list or electorate MP.

“I knew when I put my hand up in 2014 it was going to be one hell of a battle in such a safe blue seat. It’s been a roller coaster ride with so many twists and turns. I will continue to do the best I can for Northland.”

King, in a Facebook post, congratulated Prime on a close race.

“But this race is still far too close to call. Northland deserves every vote to be scrutinised to ensure that however close the result may be, that it is an exact account.

“For this reason, I will be requesting a judicial recount. With such a close result, it is only fair that we double-check the results for the people of Northland.”

National’s Denise Lee unsure of next step

Lee, who is now out of Parliament, said she hadn’t thought about what she will do now and she needed time to process the result.

“It’s not the result I wanted. At the end of the day, politics can be tough and you live with the result.”

But she said the disappointing result does not mean that her journey “wasn’t any less special and something I have thoroughly enjoyed”.

Lee sent an email to her caucus colleagues in the lead up to polling day that criticised leader Judith Collins and was leaked to media.

It led to days of coverage focused on the internal issues in the National Party, but Lee wouldn’t be drawn on whether it had contributed to her losing the seat.

She acknowledged Priyanca Radhakrishnan, who won the Maungakiekie seat.

“She is inheriting a fantastic bunch of people in an area that is the most beautiful, most hardworking, most diverse [area].”

It had been a privilege to represent the electorate, Lee said.

Radhakrishnan, who was sworn in as a minister outside Cabinet this morning, said she was “gob-smacked” to find out she had won the seat.

She said housing and transport were the main issues she wanted to help constituents with.

She would spend the evening celebrating with her family, who had travelled to Wellington to see the swearing-in today.

Greens overtake Act

The final result pushes the Greens ahead of Act as Parliament’s third largest party, even though they both have 10 seats.

“We’re incredibly excited to confirm our outstanding success this election,” Green co-leader Marama Davidson said.

“Today’s announcement of the final vote count confirms that we have increased our party Vote to 7.9 per cent, meaning we will have three talented new Green MPs joining us this term as part of the third biggest party in Parliament.”

Swarbrick’s win in Auckland Central has been widened to a 1068-vote margin.

“I am so honoured to have the privilege of representing our home and communities,” Swarbrick said.

“I’m very excited to get stuck in to the issues that matter for the people of Auckland Central, including a strategy to end homelessness – working with new Minister Davidson – alongside protecting the Hauraki Gulf, championing sustainable and affordable transport and ensuring the vibrancy of our local arts and culture.”

She said she was proud of the “yes” campaign in the cannabis referendum, which just fell short.

“Despite the result, we’re really glad to have sparked a conversation about the need for fit-for-purpose drug laws in New Zealand. As a country we’ve come so far in understanding the need to reduce the harm of drugs by bringing them out of the shadows, and I remain committed to working for a drug harm reduction approach to drugs in the future”.

Huge margin for Labour over National

Fifty per cent is the largest share of the party vote for Labour since 1946, and the first time a party has won 50 per cent or more of the party vote since National in 1951.

It is also the largest gap between Labour and National since the two-party system began in 1938.

Official turn out for the 2020 election was 82.2 per cent, up from 79.8 per cent in 2017 and 77.9 per cent in 2014.

Far more people voted in advance – 67.7 per cent – than in previous elections.

Final enrolment was 94.1 per cent of eligible voters, the highest since 2008.

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