Four of 10 closest seats change party
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Party had an electoral accommodation with Dunne, and campaign manager Steven Joyce has said that he wished Dunne had withdrawn earlier, giving National candidate Brett Hudson more time to campaign; Labour’s Greg O’Connor beat Hudson by 1051 votes.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.