18 Jun 2022

National's Uffindell easily wins Tauranga by-election

9:48 pm on 18 June 2022

National's Sam Uffindell has easily won the Tauranga parliamentary by-election for Simon Bridges' former seat.

National's new MP Sam Uffindell with his wife Julia after winning the Tauranga byelection.

National's new MP Sam Uffindell with his wife Julia after winning the Tauranga byelection. Photo: RNZ / Giles Dexter

With 100 percent of the preliminary vote results counted as of 9pm, National's Sam Uffindell leads 10931 votes to Labour's Jan Tinetti's 4893, a margin of 6038 votes. ACT's Cameron Luxton is in third with 1991 votes and all other candidates trail.

"What's made this so fantastic are the people on the ground here in Tauranga," Uffindell said at a celebration tonight. "The people here have done such an incredible job."

"I just want to say to the people of Tauranga that voted for me, and those that didn't vote for me, I'm here for you and I'm going to deliver for you.

"I'm going to get our roads improved. We're going to tackle crime and gangs. We're going to ease the cost of living crisis, and we're going to work to restore local democracy in Tauranga."

"We want Tauranga to be the greatest city to work, play and raise a family in New Zealand and that's where we're heading."

"I have to say this is an exciting night," National Party leader Christopher Luxon told attendees. "A very big congratulations to Sam. I know how hard you've worked. You've been door-knocking, you've been holding up signs in the rain ... you've worn out probably several pairs of shoes."

Uffindell said he was very happy with how his campaign went, and said he had a hard working, disciplined team.

Together, National and ACT captured approximately 66 percent of the vote in Tauranga.

Tinetti has called Uffindell to concede.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern released a statement congratulating Uffindell.

"Congratulations to Sam Uffindell on his win tonight. I also want to acknowledge Jan Tinetti, who has returned one of Labour's better results in Tauranga in recent elections.

"Jan is a huge advocate for the community she lives in, and has campaigned on the work we've been doing as a government to support families through the current global financial challenges, as well as our plan for economic recovery as our borders reopen and tourism resumes. Jan has proven why she's such a valuable part of our team, and why in the recent reshuffle her responsibilities in education have grown."

The official results including special declaration and overseas votes are expected to be available by 1 July.

The by-election is New Zealand's first in four years and was triggered by the resignation of Simon Bridges after nearly 14 years in the role.

National was widely expected to retain the seat. Labour last won the seat in 1935.

Advance voting started on 4 June but early turnout has been low with a total of 14,168 votes cast, compared to 28,951 votes which were cast during the 2020 election advanced voting period.

Te Pāti Māori chose not to stand a candidate in Tauranga, while the Green Party backed Labour's candidate.

The new MP

Uffindell was chosen as National's candidate to contest the seat, which National has held since 2005.

That election saw National's Bob Clarkson defeat New Zealand First leader Winston Peters, who had previously held the seat from 1984 to 2005. Peters chose not to run again this time.

Uffindell, a graduate of the University of Otago, spent 10 years working in senior banking roles in Sydney.

Before settling in the Bay of Plenty with his family last year, he was vice president of Deutsche Bank in Singapore. In his campaign announcement, he said he wanted to focus on helping fix cost-of-living issues and infrastructure projects like the Tauranga Northern Link.

"I'm aspirational for Tauranga and want it to remain one of the best places in New Zealand to live, work and raise a family. I'm asking for your support because you deserve a strong local voice to make this happen."

Possible issues for Tinetti campaign

Tauranga Labour candidate Jan Tinetti's campaign could get in trouble with the Electoral Commission, after it made posts encouraging people to vote for her on by-election polling day.

Under electoral law, candidates and parties are forbidden from campaigning on polling day.

This includes social media posts.

But the Facebook page for the Labour candidate made a post saying "hashtag vote, hashtag Tinetti for Tauranga", and reminding people today was their last chance to vote.

A spokesperson says they became aware of the post within an hour of it being up, and took it down immediately.

An Electoral Commission spokesperson said in a statement, " I can confirm we became aware of the posts earlier today and contacted the Labour Party. The posts were taken down."

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs