21 Nov 2010

Parties argue over Mana by-election result

12:00 pm on 21 November 2010

National and Labour are arguing about which party can claim bragging rights in the Mana by-election.

Even though Labour's Kris Faafoi won the seat, Prime Minister John Key says the fact the party's majority was cut from more than 6000 to 1000 represents a victory for National.


Mr Faafoi won the electorate near Wellington by 1080 votes on Saturday night with 10,397 votes and becomes New Zealand's first MP of Tokelauan descent.

National Party list MP Hekia Parata received 9317 votes, but supporters were upbeat as they toasted the result.

Mr Key says the narrow margin of Mr Faafoi's win is a blow to Labour.

"Labour went into this by-election saying it would be a referendum on the Government.

"The results say that the referendum from the people is that the Government's policies are working - that we're creating jobs, we're creating opportunity, we're making communities safer and lifting education standards."

Mr Key says the result will put pressure on Labour leader Phil Goff.

But Mr Goff says the Prime Minister's comments are nonsense.

"That's an absolute political spin. We won clearly - Kris Faafoi picked up 47 percent of the vote as a first-time candidate against a candidate that had been in the electorate in the last election and had maintained an office in that electorate ever since.

"We're well satisfied with that result."

Mr Goff says part of the reason the majority for Mr Faafoi is lower is because far fewer people turned out to vote than at the 2008 general election.

Mr Faafoi, a former television reporter before going to work as press secretary for Mr Goff, is happy with the result despite a fall in his party's majority.

He said the by-election was good training for the 2011 general election, in which he hopes to claw back some of Labour's majority.

Mrs Parata says a lot of effort went into her campaign and National has made a serious dent in the Labour Party support.

The by-election was forced after Labour MP Luamanuvao Winnie Laban announced her decision to leave Parliament to take a job at Victoria University.