New Palmerston North MP Tangi Utikere celebrates his victory with friends and family.
Manawatū’s electorates have a distinctly redder blush after Saturday’s election, with senior Labour politicians in the region crediting confidence in the coronavirus response for the party’s stunning result.
Labour could govern alone after the party vote gave them 64 of Parliament’s 120 seats, the first time a New Zealand party has won an outright majority under MMP.
The national result echoed across wider Manawatū, with Labour increasing its share of the party vote in Palmerston North, Rangitīkei, Ōtaki, Te Tai Hauāuru and Wairarapa.
Ōtaki and Wairarapa flipped from National to Labour, with Terisa Ngobi beating National’s Tim Costley by 1267 votes to succeed the retiring Nathan Guy in Ōtaki.
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Ōtaki’s new MP Terisa Ngobi celebrates after winning the seat for Labour.
Kieran McAnulty romped home in Wairarapa, which includes the Tararua district, by 5411 votes to replace the retiring Alastair Scott and defeat National’s Mike Butterick.
Tangi Utikere became Palmerston North’s first Pasifika MP, holding the seat for Labour after Iain Lees-Galloway bowed out of politics, while Adrian Rurawhe held off Māori Party co-leader Debbie Ngarewa-Packer in Te Tai Hauāuru.
The only National party winner was Ian McKelvie, keeping Rangitīkei blue but bleeding nearly 8000 votes from his majority.
Utikere’s campaign manager and Palmerston North City councillor Lorna Johnson said the result was down to the Government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
“People have voted for stability and confidence, and I don’t think they were seeing that from National.
Rangitīkei MP Ian McKelvie inspects the disastrous results for the National Party with supporter Graeme Saunders.
“It’s down to both individual policies and general trust in the Government.”
A good result was expected, but no one would have predicted such a romp, she said.
Having quality leadership in Jacinda Ardern and a credible plan for the coronavirus recovery were equally important.
“There wasn’t another credible plan to go forward,” Johnson said.
Labour’s Rangitīkei candidate Soraya Peke-Mason says the coronavirus pandemic played a big part in the election result.
Labour’s Rangitīkei candidate Soraya Peke-Mason is very close to getting in on the list.
While her ranking of 60 on the list would usually make her safe, lower ranked candidates winning seats could push her out, so she needs to wait for the special votes to be counted.
She said the coronavirus pandemic had changed the political landscape and people’s priorities.
“It has made people rest and rethink the future ahead and what that means for them.”
Labour’s values, such as putting the welfare of people first, resonated in that context, she said.
Teanau Tuiono is ManawatÅ«’s first Green MP after Saturday’s election result.
Green Party Palmerston North candidate Teanau Tuiono is also in on the list, becoming his party’s first Pasifika MP and the first Green MP from Manawatū.
The Greens usually do poorly when Labour does well, so the Greens increasing their party vote despite being in a Government partnership was an excellent result.
Tuiono also put the strong result for the left down to people’s reaction to the pandemic.
It made people remember how important community was, which merged well with the Greens’ policies, he said.
“The connection between family, community and the environment has really resonated with the electorate.
“We have had community at the centre.”
Rurawhe said increasing the party vote and holding the seat against a very strong candidate was a brilliant result.
“I think the narrative from the Māori Party that you could get two for one really did resonate, so we’ve been up against that narrative.”
Te Tai Hauāuru MP Adrian Rurawhe says Labour will get a lot more policy delivered with a majority in Parliament.
The dynamic in Parliament would change due to Labour’s majority, he said.
“We’ll get a lot more of our policy done.”