18 Oct 2020

The red tide: Labour wins 15 seats held by National

7:26 am on 18 October 2020

It's the red tide - a Labour landslide in the electorates has seen the party win 15 seats previously held by National Party MPs - including major upsets in Ilam, Nelson, East Coast, Upper Harbour and Northcote to name a few.

Labour party supporters react as they await Labour Leader Jacinda Ardern to arrive as they watch the results come for New Zealand's general election in Auckland on October 16, 2020.

Photo: AFP

Labour also won the newly established Takanini seat, taking the number of seats Labour won that it did not already hold up to 16.

But Labour had a loss that makes a big difference - losing Waiariki means the Māori Party is back in Parliament after three years out in the cold.

This is how voting ended up in those electorates that have swung to a different party. In some cases, they weren't big wins by Labour - the margins were close. Others were authoritative wins.

Elsewhere, seats that were clear National wins had their margins heavily reduced as Labour candidates closed in on their opponents.

It's worth noting that these are provisional results with 100 percent of votes counted, but not the special votes - they're counted after election day. There's a chance these may change things for electorates where the results are particularly close.

There were 2,397,117 votes counted on election day and the total including special votes is expected to be 2,877,117, meaning there are about 480000 special votes.

Voter turnout is estimated to be 82.5 percent of those enrolled as at 6pm Friday 16 October.

The Electoral Commission aims to have the official results published on Friday 6 November.

Auckland Central

This was always going to be an interesting race. This electorate is home to 60,000 people, made up of mostly young and highly-educated adults of European and Asian descent.

It had been safely Labour's before Nikki Kaye put in the hard yards and made it hers in 2008. But she stepped down this year and was replaced by Emma Mellow.

With Labour's Helen White showing popularity in the polls and a strong campaign by the Greens' Chloe Swarbrick, it wasn't worth trying to call this one.

It was a tight race all evening as the votes came in, the lead bouncing about early on, before Swarbrick settled into a lead of about 450 votes for the rest of the evening.

With 100 percent of votes counted, Swarbrick won by 492 votes - ending up on 9060 over White on 8568.

East Coast

This was outgoing National MP Anne Tolley's seat, one she'd held since 2005. Tania Tapsell stood in her place for National, up against Labour's MP Kiri Allan, making it a race between two young Māori women.

In July, a Labour-commissioned poll put its candidate ahead of National's for the first time in 15 years, according to Local Democracy Reporting.

Allan ended up taking it with 18,367 votes.

Hamilton East

This National seat has gone to Labour - Jamie Strange took out David Bennett by 1948 votes.

Strange's final count on the night was 15,254 compared to Bennett's 13,306.

The seat's been solidly blue in recent elections.

Hamilton West

It was a city-wide swing in Hamilton - west also went from National to Labour, where Gaurav Sharma defeated Tim MacIndoe by 4425.

Sharma ended the night with 16,950, up on MacIndoe's 12,525.

Hutt South

Chris Bishop put in the leg work to snag this seat in 2017. It was Trevor Mallard's from 1993 until 2017, when he retired.

Bishop had lost to Mallard by only 709 votes in 2014 and worked hard for his win in 2017 and has been working ever since to keep up his profile in the electorate.

This time around it changed hands, back to Labour, with Ginny Andersen taking it back with 18,823 votes to Bishop's 16,531 - a margin of 2292.


This seat has been National deputy leader Gerry Brownlee's since 1996, but was taken by Labour's Sarah Pallet.

Pallet pulled ahead early and held the lead the whole way through.

With 30 percent of the vote returned, Brownlee was already trailing, with about 37 percent of the electorate vote compared to about 48 percent for Pallett.

She ended up with a 2220 vote lead - winning with 16,381 votes to Brownlee's 14,161.

Pallett is a midwifery lecturer at Ara Institute of Technology, having previously worked as a community midwife. Her two daughters, Alex and Bea, attended Ilam Primary School and are both now at university.


Nick Smith had held this seat since 1996. But last night it went red, with Labour's Rachel Boyack winning it with 18,625 votes to Smith's 15,048.

When some electorate boundaries changed earlier this year, Nelson's were among them.

That meant Brightwater - a stronghold of Smith's support - was no longer in the Nelson electorate.

Boyack is Nelson's first woman MP.

New Plymouth

It may have been Jonathan Young's in 2017, but this year it was all Glen Bennetts.

This electorate has been strongly in favour of National over recent elections - Young won by 8000 votes in 2017 and 10,000 votes in 2014.

But Bennetts ended the evening with 18,072 and Young with 16,553 - a margin of 1519.


It was a close one here, but Labour's Shanan Halbert has pushed out Dan Bidois by 1358. Halbert ended the night on 15,832 to Bidois' 14,474. Labour also took home 49 percent of the party vote compared to National's 28.3 percent.


Previously held by the retiring National MP Nathan Guy, Tim Costely took over the fight in his place, up against Terisa Ngobi.

But this one went to Labour - Ngobi received 17,926 votes over Costely's 16,659.


This strong rural blue seat was held by Andrew Falloon, who stood down after a scandal involving indecency allegations earlier in 2020. Also a blue seat, Labour's Jo Luxton took it over National's Megan Hands by 3484 votes.


This is a new electorate, established earlier this year when the Electoral Commission set the new boundaries, following the 2018 census.

The Parliament website says it was: "created ahead of the 2020 general election as a result of population growth in the area caused by the outward expansion of Auckland. Takanini was created by drawing population from the current seats of Manurewa and Papakura, as well as the former Hunua electorate".

This was Neru Leavasa's night, defeating National's Rima Nakhle by 4548 votes.


This seat, encompassing Hastings, Havelock North, and Flaxmere, was taken off National's hands by Labour's Anna Lorck.

Labour candidates had been closing the gap over the past three elections, and this year, Lorck topped Lawrence Rule to turn the electorate red.

It was still close, she collected 16,427 votes to Yule's 15,655.

Upper Harbour

Formerly Paula Bennett's seat, when she announced she was retiring from politics she was replaced by Jake Bezzant.

He couldn't hold onto it for National, and Labour's Vanushi Walters took it with a 1415 vote lead.

She ended up on 14,142 over Bezzant's 12,727.

That's a big change - Bennett has won the seat by about 10,000 votes at the last three elections.


Labour's Kieran McAnulty had his sights set on National's Mike Butterick here, the replacement for National's retiring MP Alastair Scott.

Wairarapa is one of the largest electorates in the North Island, bordering Wellington in the south and stretching into the central Hawke's Bay in the north.

McAnulty lost to Scott in 2017 by 2872 votes - but this time around, the seat was all his.

He took home 19,519 as compared to Butterick's 14,108.


Labour's Tamati Coffey snatched this off the Māori Party in 2017 as part of Labour's clean sweep of the Māori electorates.

The battle for the seat in 2020 was closely fought between Coffey and the Māori Party's Rawiri Waititi. At one point during vote counting, the pair were tied.

In the end, Waititi ensured the Māori Party would be back in Parliament by snagging 9473 votes, 415 more than Coffey.


This was held by National's Harete Hipango, but swung heavily to Labour, with Steph Lewis collecting 19,459 votes, a solid 6821 more than Hipango.

Before Hipango, Chester Burrows held Whanganui for National.

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