Four of 10 clos­est seats change party

The New Zealand Herald - - NEWS - Derek Cheng

Four of the 10 most mar­ginal seats changed po­lit­i­cal colours in the 2017 elec­tion, as a num­ber of in­cum­bents stood aside and new can­di­dates rein­vig­o­rated con­tests.

The clos­est race that changed hands was Ohariu, where United Fu­ture’s Peter Dunne re­tired just one month be­fore the elec­tion.

The Na­tional Party had an elec­toral ac­com­mo­da­tion with Dunne, and cam­paign man­ager Steven Joyce has said that he wished Dunne had with­drawn ear­lier, giv­ing Na­tional can­di­date Brett Hud­son more time to cam­paign; Labour’s Greg O’Con­nor beat Hud­son by 1051 votes.

In con­trast Ta­mati Cof­fey had al­most a year to cam­paign af­ter he was se­lected to run as the Labour can­di­date in the strate­gic seat of Wa­iariki in Oc­to­ber 2016. Cof­fey de- feated Maori Party co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell, whose party failed to re­turn to Par­lia­ment.

Labour can­di­date Wil­low-Jean Prime may have been the dif­fer­ence in the North­land re­sult, where New Zealand First leader Win­ston Peters lost the seat he had won in the 2015 by­elec­tion. Prime did not ac­tively cam­paign in 2015 and won only 1380 votes, far fewer than the 8599 votes she won in the Septem­ber elec­tion.

Na­tional’s Chris Bishop turned a 709-vote loss in Hutt South in 2014 to a 1530-vote win in 2017 over Labour’s Ginny An­der­son, fol­low­ing Labour in­cum­bent Trevor Mal­lard’s de­ci­sion to stand as a list MP. It is the first time Na­tional has held the seat since it was cre­ated in 1996.

In Maun­gakiekie, where Na­tional’s Sam Lotu-Iga re­tired, Na­tional’s Denise Lee won a 2157 ma­jor­ity over Labour’s Priyanca Rad­hakr­ish­nan, al­most 2000 votes fewer than the num­ber of votes that Green can­di­date Chloe Swar­brick won.

Labour’s Deb­o­rah Rus­sell de­feated Na­tional’s Paulo Gar­cia in New Lynn, a seat va­cated by for­mer Labour leader David Cun­liffe, but where Na­tional had won the party vote in 2014. That vote swung back to Labour with a nar­row 307 ma­jor­ity in 2017.

Na­tional’s Lawrence Yule man­aged to hold Tuk­i­tuki, where Na­tional in­cum­bent Craig Foss re­tired, though es­tab­lished Labour can­di­date Anna Lorck, who also ran in 2014, sub­stan­tially closed the gap.

In the coun­try’s most mar­ginal seat, Labour’s Adrian Ru­rawhe again won Te Tai Hauauru, de­feat­ing a strong chal­lenge from Maori Party can­di­date Howie Ta­mati.

Na­tional’s Harete Hi­pango re­tained Whanganui fol­low­ing the re­tire­ment of Na­tional’s Ch­ester Bor­rows.

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