6 Nov 2020

Special votes: National loses two MPs, one each to Labour, Māori Party

7:21 pm on 6 November 2020

The National Party has lost another two MPs on the final election result - with Labour and the Māori Party picking up an extra seat each.

Debbie Ngarewa-Packer

Māori Party co-leader Debbie Ngarewa-Packer has made it into Parliament, bringing the party's MPs to two. Photo: RNZ / Te Aniwa Hurihanganui

The Electoral Commission declared the official results today, which sees three electorate changes since election night.

The special votes, which are those that are not on the printed electoral roll, or are not taken at a voting place, can be returned and counted up to 10 days after election day.

Results on election night had Labour at 64 seats, National at 35, ACT at 10, the Greens 10 and the Māori Party with a sole electorate seat, but the counting of what was estimated to be nearly 500,000 special votes has delayed final results until today.

Labour's Priyanca Radhakrishnan has won Maungakiekie off National's Denise Lee by 635 votes.

Northland Labour candidate Willow-Jean Prime has beaten National's incumbent Matt King with a majority of 163 votes.

King says he was shocked to lose his seat in final vote counting, as he thought he had a big enough safety margin to hold onto Northland.

On election night the incumbent MP was ahead by 729 votes

King says he will be requesting a judicial recount in the electorate of Northland.

He says politics is brutal and it is sad to see so many MPs and staff lose their jobs, but it is not all over for him.

In a statement, he congratulated his opponent on a close race but believed it was still too close to call.

In Whangārei, Labour candidate Emily Henderson has beaten National's Shane Reti by 431 votes, but Reti stays on in Parliament making it in on the list.

Henderson says she was astonished to win the Whangārei seat and the result is "humbling".

At a media conference this afternoon, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said it was "fantastic" that Henderson had won her seat. She also congratulated Prime and all those who are coming into Parliament.

In a statement, opposition leader Judith Collins paid tribute to outgoing MP Denise Lee.

"Denise has worked incredibly hard since entering Parliament and it will be extremely sad to see her go. She is passionate about the people of Maungakiekie and has worked tirelessly to make her community a better place," Collins said.

"The same can be said of Matt King in Northland, although I acknowledge that Matt will be seeking a recount of the Northland result. We will be supporting him through that process.

"While it is disappointing to be farewelling more MPs, those who have been confirmed in Parliament for another term are energised about the prospect of rolling up their sleeves and getting on with the important job of holding the government to account. I've had meetings with every National MP. We have gone through their skills and ambitions, and I'm looking forward to announcing National's new portfolio allocations next week."

She also thanked National's deputy leader, Gerry Brownlee, who announced today he will not be returning to the role. Brownlee, who lost his electorate seat at the election, gave no hint whether he planned to remain as a list MP but said his focus would now be on rebuilding National's base in Christchurch and representing the party's voters there.

All other electorate candidates leading on election night have been confirmed as winning their seats.

Overall seats in Parliament have changed with Labour picking up one - the seat filled by Henderson. National loses two with both Lee and King being tipped out of Parliament.

The Māori Party picks up one more seat, which goes to co-leader Debbie Ngarewa-Packer who comes in on the list.

"Today's success is first and foremost about Waiariki, and that absolute belief in mana motuhake, belief in their candidate."

Labour's Tamati Coffey has conceded to Waiariki electorate winner, Māori Party's Rawiri Waititi.

Waititi won the seat, and even doubled his election-night majority to 836.

ACT and the Green Party remain unchanged on 10 seats.

Green MP Chloe Swarbrick's election-night win in Auckland Central has been confirmed.

Candidates who lost their seats have until Wednesday to ask for a judicial recount but chief electoral officer Alicia Wrights says in 2014 recounts only led to a change of about 10 to 15 votes.

The final enrolment rate was 94.1 per cent, up from 92.4 per cent in 2017.

Special votes have historically been left-leaning. In 2017 after special votes were counted National lost two seats, Labour lost one, with the Green Party picking up two. In 2014 National lost two seats, with Greens and Labour picking up one each.

The recreational cannabis referendum count was very close before specials as well, but it has not succeeded, although following today's results the numbers narrowed significantly to 50.7 against legalisation and 48.4 percent in favour.

'I will be an unapologetic champion for Māori' - Debbie Ngarewa Packer

The Māori Party says their waka is back on the water with Rawiri Waititi solidifying his Waiariki victory and with the party picking up an extra seat.

Co-leader Debbie Ngarewa Packer will enter Parliament, with the party picking up 1.2 percent of the vote.

Ngarewa-Packer, who ran for Te Tai Hauāuru, losing to Labour's Adrian Rurawhe by just over a thousand votes, says she is shocked and thrilled with the final results and is excited about starting her new job.

"I can't wait to get stuck into 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," she says.

The Māori Party's Rawiri Waititi and Labour's Tamati Coffey.

The Māori Party's Rawiri Waititi and Labour's Tamati Coffey. Photo: RNZ / Te Aniwa Hurihanganui / Mei Heron

Waititi said he was absolutely stoked to have a mate join him in parliament.

"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 says.

He recognised the work of his main contender, previous Waiariki MP, Labour's Tamati Coffey.

"I want to acknowledge Tamati Coffey and his whānau for an outstanding campaign and for his service to Waiariki over the past three years," Waititi said.

Coffey has conceded saying he respects the outcome.

"Rawiri ran a robust campaign for the Waiariki. I want to mihi to my supporters and those who gave Labour a clear majority in terms of the party vote," Coffey said.

He said he would continue to be a tireless voice for Māori.

"As a servant of the people, I look forward to continuing my mahi around housing, growing the role local Māori development plays in driving our economic recovery, and working alongside Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta to increase Māori representation in the communities of the Waiariki," Coffey said.

Waititi said he would be making contact with party leaders immediately to discuss potential working relationships centred on the advancement of Māori.

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