With six days to go before the New Zealand general election, there has been little change in the campaigns. The opinion polls retain the essential elements:
- National leads the polls, with the party running close to 50% support.
- Labour trailing in the mid-to-high 30s.
- Greens the clearly leading minor party, tending towards high single figures.
- New Zealand First consistently polling well below the 5% threshold.
- ACT, United Future and Progressive all polling at or below their 2005 results.
The only piece of news was the announcement from United Future that they would support a National-led government. This has led to the unusual position where seven of the eight main parties are now aligned to one of two multiparty blocs: Labour, Greens, Progressive and New Zealand First on one side and National, ACT and United Future on the other. This should lead to an easier election call on Saturday night than in the past, with only two scenarios appearing possible: a National-ACT-UF majority or the Maori Party holding the balance of power, in which case the party would negotiate with both blocs to form a government.
So I thought it would be worth examining the races in key electorates. While there are many marginal seats where National and Labour are competing, where polls have been conducted, these seats will not make a difference to the overall total. There are seven key seats, being those where minor parties have a chance. In Ohariu and Wigram, United Future leader Peter Dunne and Progressive leader Jim Anderton are on track to be safely re-elected, allowing their parties to return to Parliament. ACT leader Rodney Hide and New Zealand First leader Winston Peters will need to win their respective Epsom and Taurange electorates for their parties to return to Parliament. The Maori Party appear on track to win more Maori seats than their party vote will warrant, meaning their total number of seats will rely on how many they can win. I thought we’d run through recent polls in these electorates.
A recent poll placed Rodney Hide on 56%, with former Epsom MP and sitting National list MP on 27%, suggesting that Hide will be safely re-elected.
Winston Peters lost the seat in 2005, and will need to win the seat back from the National Party if New Zealand First is to stay in Parliament, as the party is consistently polling below 5%. Courtesy of Curiablog, a One News Colmar Brunton poll predicts:
- Simon Bridges (Nat) 54%
- Winston Peters (NZF) 28%
Maori seats party vote
Digipoll conducted electorate polls in all seven Maori seats, with the first conducted in late September/early October, with the last conducted in the last fortnight. As well as polling Maori seat votes, the polls asked Maori voters how they would cast their party vote. Averaging out the seven polls, the party vote in the Maori seats comes out as:
- Maori Party: 41.5%
- Labour Party: 39.9%
- National Party: 6.7%
- NZ First: 5.1%
- Green Party: 3.8%
The latest redistribution produced 7 Maori seats and 63 general seats, meaning that the Maori roll makes up approximately 10% of the electorate. This would put the Maori Party on 4.15%, excluding any votes won on the general roll. This would give the party 6 or 7 seats, which could result in the party winning list seats, depending on their performance in the electorate vote.
In the seven Maori seats, the four sitting Maori Party MPs are predicted to win substantially-increased majorities. In the three Labour-held seats, one seat has the Maori Party candidate leading by 6%, while the sitting Labour MPs hold slim leads in the other two seats.
The new electorate, covering the southern fringe of Auckland as well as Hamilton and the Coromandel peninsula, largely replaces Tainui, which was won by Labour against the Maori Party in 2005, 52.7% to 42.3%. The recent poll gave sitting Labour MP Nanaia Mahuta 50.3%, against 49.7% for the Maori Party candidate, an effective dead heat.
Covering the east coast of the North Island, Ikaroa-Rāwhiti was won by Labour in 2005, 53.7% to 42.8%. The recent poll has the sitting Labour MP still leading, by a smaller margin of 49.8% to 44.4%.
Covering most of the suburbs of Auckland, Tāmaki Makaurau was won by Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharpes, 52.4% to 41.2%. The recent poll has Sharples solidifying his seat, winning 77.4% of the vote.
Te Tai Hauāuru
Te Tai Hauāuru covers New Plymouth and much of the west coast of the North Island. Held by Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia, she was re-elected in 2005 with 63% of the vote. The recent poll gave Turia 78% of the vote in her electorate.
Te Tai Tokerau
Covering northland and the northern suburbs of Auckland, Te Tai Tokerau was won by Hone Harawira for the Maori Party 52.4% to 33.4%. The recent poll gave Harawira increased support, with 69%.
Te Tai Tonga
Te Tai Tonga covers the entire South Island and much of Wellington. Mahara Okeroa, the sitting Labour MP, won a third term with 47%, against 34% for the Maori Party candidate and 12% for the Greens list MP Metiria Turei. With a much lower-profile Greens candidate, the recent poll gave 46% to the Maori Party and 40% to Labour.
Waiariki covers central parts of North Island, including Rotorua, Tauranga and the Bay of Plenty. The seat was won by the Maori Party’s Te Ururoa Flavell, 54.6-39.5. The recent poll gives Flavell 72%, solidifying his lead.