10 Nov 2020

National's Maureen Pugh doubles back to Parliament

6:43 pm on 10 November 2020

National MP Maureen Pugh was so sure she would lose her job once the special votes were counted she packed up her office and apartment in the capital and shipped her belongings home.

National list MP Maureen Pugh arriving at Parliament where her party's caucus is meeting to discuss the Jami-Lee Ross controversy.

National list MP Maureen Pugh arriving at Parliament Photo: RNZ / Jane Patterson

The West Coaster, who has twice been booted from Parliament because of the special votes, was again at risk of losing her job as the last MP on National's list.

Her job was saved this time, because outgoing National MPs Matt King and Denise Lee both lost their electorate seats to Labour.

Pugh told reporters this morning she was surprised to still have a job, and because of her track record had packed up her office at Parliament and apartment in Wellington.

"The specials have not traditionally favoured me so I was resigned to the fact I was going home for some time," she said.

Pugh had started shipping her belongings back to the Capital and said she was "exhausted" from all of the unpacking.

The lease on her Wellington apartment had not run out though, Pugh said, which was "a bonus".

She has been selected by the party as junior whip at the caucus meeting held at Parliament today, where Dr Shane Reti was also selected as deputy leader.

More farewells

King and Lee farewell the National Party caucus today after their previously-held electorate seats flipped red following the release of the final results.

King won the Northland seat on election night, but lost to Labour's Willow-Jean Prime by just 163 votes.

He told reporters he was "very sad to be going."

No caption

Departing National MP Matt King Photo: RNZ / Dom Thomas

The outgoing MP had indicated he was going to ask for a recount, but later changed his mind because he was advised it would likely be unsuccessful, he said.

"Interestingly enough I lost by 163 votes and I heard about 200 votes came out of Ngawha Prison and I put a couple of guys in there, so probably none of those are mine," King said.

King attributed his loss to the "red tide" and said he did everything he could to be re-elected.

He added he would "100 percent" stand again at the 2023 election.

Denise Lee was less confident, saying she would be loyal to the National Party, but added "it's very early days" when asked by reporters if she would stand again in 2023.

She lost the seat of Maungakiekie to Labour's Priyanca Radhakrishnan by more than 6-hundred votes.

On her way to her final caucus meeting, Lee said the loss was "disappointing."

"I know I gave it my all, it was a great three years," she said.

When asked by reporters if the email she sent to the National caucus criticising Judith Collins', which was then leaked to the media, ended her career, Lee said she'd "prefer not to talk about the last three weeks."

"I can't predict other people's actions can I? I stay true to myself, always have been, and wish the National Party, Judith and the future of where the country's going all the best," Lee said.

Lee said she had no regrets and had a fantastic last term at Parliament.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs