Jacinda Ardern claimed a “mandate to accelerate” in her victory speech following Labour’s landslide win.
New Zealand’s incoming Parliament will be its most inclusive ever, with several people of colour, members of rainbow communities and a high number of women set to take their political seats in the capital.
With about 98 per cent of the vote counted, Labour looks set to win 49 per cent of the party vote, giving the party 64 seats in Parliament. At least half of its MPs will be women.
While there was yet to be a full breakdown of MPs and their identities, it was shaping up to be much more diverse than previous governments, said Dr Lara Greaves (Ngāpuhi, pākehā and Tarara) from the University of Auckland.
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Labour had really tried in their list rankings to bring in people from diverse backgrounds, Greaves said “And I think that really fits in with the kaupapa of the party,” she said.
The incoming government was also set to have the most LGBT+ members in history, she said. “It will be great to see a full breakdown but it’s looking really promising at this point.”
Dr Lara Greaves says the incoming government looks “promising” in terms of the number of women in Parliament and the increasing ethnic diversity.
These included Green Party list candidates like scholar and LGBT+ activist Elizabeth Kerekere (Te Whānau a Kai, Te Aitanga-a-Māhaki, Rongowhakaata, Ngāi Tāmanuhiri and Ngāti Oneone) and gay migrant of colour Ricardo Menéndez March, who will also be New Zealand’s first Latin American MP.
Labour’s Vanushi Walters will become New Zealand’s first Sri Lankan MP after winning the northwest Auckland seat of Upper Harbour, previously held by retiring National MP Paula Bennett. During the campaign, Walters, who is a board member of Amnesty International, said she was passionate about the electorate because of its “diverse” and “warm” communities.
Labour list MP Ibrahim Omer says he is the first African MP.
Greaves said having politicians who are able to bring their lived experiences to Parliament was important for creating inclusive policies.
“People look at the world through the lens of their identities and experiences,” she said. “And they’re able to sit there and say, hopefully, at the Cabinet table … be able to reflect on their experiences or think of things from a different angle, and I think that’s a positive thing for policy making.”
Elizabeth Kerekere is number nine on the Greens Party list.
Tabby Besley , managing director of InsideOut, an organisation that works with rainbow youth, said it was “amazing” to see rainbow MPs to be elected. Both Labour and Greens had strong rainbow policies, she said, but added that she was waiting to seeing them put into action.
Max Tweedie, director of Auckland Pride and a Green Party supporter, said the increased diversity in the Parliament could help alleviate discrimination and promote acceptance.
“It gives me a lot that this representation means there will be lots of things on the agenda that start to happen, such as banning conversion therapy,” he said.
Labour MP Terisa Ngobi won the Ōtaki seat with a 1267-vote majority over National’s Tim Costley.
Tweedie, who had lost his voice from Saturday’s celebrations at the Green’s HQ, also praised Chlöe Swarbrick’s win in Auckland Central.
“To have a National-held seat flip to Green and to a young, queer woman who is unapologetic about who she is – that’s historic,” he said.
National Council of Women of New Zealand president Lisa Lawrence (Ngāti Kahungunu and Ngāti Ruapani) said having leadership roles filled with people from “all walks of life is in itself a great place to start from, for the next term of government”.
Chlöe Swarbrick has won the Auckland Central electorate, beating her closest rival by a few hundred votes.
Greaves said it remained to be seen whether this diversity was reflected in the Cabinet, however.
“In Cabinet, generally, there’s an under-representation of women,” Greaves said. … it’s really important at that higher decision-making level for people, especially from different ethnic communities and women as well, to be able to have that input on any decisions and impact that policies will have on groups.
“I think it gives it a higher chance that someone’s going to stop and say: ‘Hey, what about women or what about Māori?’ ”
Labour came out with a huge initial lead and never let it go as the votes came in. Here’s how election night unfolded.