Kelvin Davis – an unforeseen disaster on 23 September?




August 1 began a new chapter in Labour’s 101 year history: the sudden – though not wholly unexpected – appointment of Jacinda Ardern and Kelvin Davis as Leader and Deputy Leader, respectively, of the NZ Labour Party;


Jacinda Ardern and Kelvin Davis
(acknowledgement: Fairfax media)


It marks an end to Andrew Little’s brief reign as Leader. Little’s decision to step down –  the mark of an honourable man who put Party before personal ambition.

The recent TV1, TV3, and Labour’s own internal polling sealed Little’s political doom.

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Labour’s new Deputy Leader, Kelvin Davis,  is an Electorate MP for Te Tai Tokerau. The vast Maori electorate stretches from Auckland to Cape Reinga;



Davis won the seat from Mana Movement leader, Hone Harawira in 2014, after a ‘stitch-updeal between National, Labour, and NZ First;




The deal was organised to rid Parliament of the one true far-left political party, and it was executed with callous efficiency. Davis won the seat with 743 votes.

But that’s history.

What is pertinent is a point that few people have realised – Kelvin Davis’ precarious position as Labour’s Deputy Leader.

At Number Two on the Labour Party list, Ms Ardern’s chances of returning to Parliament is  all but guaranteed.

The new Deputy Leader – Kelvin Davis – has no such guarantee. His “life boat” – a high placing on the Party List – does not exist.

On 21 March this year, Labour announced that’s its candidates for the seven Maori seats would not have a place on Labour’s Party List;



The decision to stand candidates in electorates-only was a strategic move by Labour. Labour wanted Maori voters to give their Electorate Vote to Labour candidates and not split their votes between Labour and the Maori Party. (At only 1.3% in the last election, the Maori Party was way below the  5% MMP threshold and the Party Vote was of secondary use to them. They needed to win an Electorate seat to gain representation in Parliament.)

This was a calculated plan to oust the Maori Party from Parliament using Labour’s Maori candidates in an “all-or-nothing” gambit. Interestingly, to this blogger’s knowledge, none of Labour’s pakeha candidates were asked to make a similar decision to stand in an Electorate only.

This “cunning plan” may have backfired if the recent accord between the Mana Movement and the Maori Party  allows Hone Harawira to regain Te Tai Tokerau;



In 2014, had Maori Party supporters given their electorate vote to Hone Harawira, Davis would have lost by a decisive 1,836 votes;



Labour could yet end up with another (deputy) leadership vacancy. Embarrassing.

On the positive side, if Andrew Little’s sacrifice for the greater good pays dividends on 23 September, it will signal the end of National’s current reign – and begin the slow unpicking of neo-liberalism. The times, they are a-changin’ and the winds against globalisation/neo-liberalism are gaining strength.

Labour’s up-coming announcement on tertiary education may put the ‘frighteners’ into the neo-libs if it is as bold as I hope it is.





Wikipedia: NZ Labour Party

Radio NZ:  As it happened – Jacinda Ardern takes charge as Labour leader

Wikipedia: Te Tai Tokerau

Maori TV: Key wants Harawira to lose Tai Tokerau seat

NZ Herald: Hone’s call to arms after Winston backs Kelvin

Wikipedia: Te Tai Tokerau – 2014 Election

NZ Labour Party: List

Fairfax media:  Labour’s Maori MPs opt to go ‘electorate only’ and not seek list places

Wikipedia: Maori Party – 2014 Election

Fairfax media:  Hone Harawira gets clear Te Tai Tokerau run for Mana not running against Maori Party in other seats


NZ Herald:  Andrew Little’s full statement on resignation

Other Blogs

No Right Turn:  The big gamble

The Jackal:  Andrew Little is the devil

The Standard:  Ok, I’m pissed off with the Labour caucus again. Time to switch

The Standard: Thank you Andrew – go well Jacinda!

The Standard: Helen Clark burns Matthew Hooton

The Standard: So NZ Labour wanted the Headlines.

The Standard: Greens and the Māori Party on the new Labour leaders

Werewolf:  Gordon Campbell on the Labour leadership change

Previous related blogposts

No More. The Left Falls.







= fs =


  1. my first reaction (yesterday) to the appointment of davis is that it is an anti-harawira power-play – giving davis the mana of the deputy-leadership – and a bit more chance to retain his seat..(and a strong perception-play in the other maori seats..)

    but i gave him no chance of retaining his seat before – and the maths detailed above seems to dictate a continuation of that opinion..

    • “if Andrew Little’s sacrifice for the greater good pays dividends on 23 September, it will signal the end of National’s current reign – and begin the slow unpicking of neo-liberalism”

      Bloody hope so Frank it sounds so good.

  2. How do you discern that Ardurn is anti neoliberal and Little is not.
    I see the drop in polling as a temporary effect of Meteria’s outburst last week, and Little should not have resigned. Perhaps the pressure came from the silent neoliberal centre within the labour party hierarchy precisely to reverse moves by Little away from the neoliberal mantra. Remember that Lange was sold the idea (or sold it on to the public anyway) that neoliberalism would by trickle down improve the lot of the poor and unemployed. Has Jacinda got a better understanding of the fundamentals that need to be changed to deliver what she aspires for those missing out?
    Or is she a shiny new face that can be controlled by the internal power in the labour elite?
    D J S

    • This is a fair concern David, and one I had when the news media first started playing with the idea of Jacinda replacing Little as leader. I now realise the reason for my concerns is that I know almost nothing about Jacinda’s background. I didn’t know, for example, that she once served as chair of the International Union of Young Socialists. Hardly a hotbed of pro-corporate “neo-liberalism”.

      If her deputy and the finance spokesperson had been known to be “neoliberal”, my concern would remain. But Kelvin Davis, for all his faults, has been a staunch opponent of prison privatization and did some great work exposing the shenanigans of SERCO, working with the prison guard union. Grant Robertson, despite all the talk of him being an “ABC”, seems to understand that letting “the market” run riot has led NZ to its current level of inequality and poverty.

      Certainly, we need to ask tough questions of Labour, and pick through their policy announcements carefully for any signs of sidling back to the “centre” (ie to the right) instead of pushing left in a Corbyn fashion. But the same applies to NZ First and even the Greens. Let’s judge them by their (proposed) fruits.

  3. Davis was onRNZ this morning hinting he might go back on the party list. But not other Maori candidates. Hypocrisy much?

    Well, better than the Nats, I suppose.

    • The Labour Party effectively require their senior MP’s to be on the list, so no hypocrisy there at all. The list will be juggled and Andrew Little will drop down a few places and Kelvin Davis moved up to the second spot.

      Mana will then campaign on the basis that TTT voters can get two MP’s for the price of one; Davis and Harawira. That could be interesting, but I still think Davis will win the seat, and Labour will win all the other maori seats. I suspect the maori party agree with me, going by their desperate grovelling yesterday.

      BTW, Frank, there was no deal in TTT last election. That’s a fantasy. In reality, it was just politics, with each of the parties doing what they felt was in their own best interests and, in the case of National, stirring the pot to sow dissent among the gullible.

      And just to be clear, it was in the left’s best interests that mana failed last election, because Harawira stood on the basis that he would sit on the cross benches if elected, so he would have been of no help to anyone but his bank manager. Nowadays, of course, he hangs out with a dodgy National Party tribute act, which is even worse.

      • Yes, well. Scores of decades of dodging Maori Affairs has finally caught up with the Labour Party constitution. Ne. The futility of the denial of maori rights is finally open for every one to see. It is a ridiculous situation to have rulz in place that deny Māori MP’s the oppertunity to be PM. Rule 8 of the Labour Party constitution prevents Māori candidates from accepting offers of PM/DPM.

        Now I finally get why Nania Mahuta never went for the job during last leadership challenge when Little was named when clearly she had the maori voting block outweighed the factions.

        So you give Hone a sweet hart deal ok Ardern?

        • Um, there is no rule 8. And, anyway, nothing in the LP constitution prevents anybody of any ethnicity becoming PM. Can I politely ask what the f**k you’re on about?

            • Sam
              ‘ T fuck are you on about? When you are making shit up, then at least check your sources to make sure there is a section; “8.145.1 ect [sic]”. You come across as a total Rimmer:


              Anyway, my comment below was supposed to be a reply to Samwise, but must have mucked that up (probably went off to check my facts and then used the; “post comment”, rather than; “reply”, function). TRP seems to have much the same take on it as I did.

              • Try engaging brain before YouTube. If there is one thing I dislike more than Helen Clark it is John Car Key. And Before that Jenny Shiply. And so on and so fourth.

                As a maori it still disturbs me how far kiwis are willing to go to protect there magnificent vision of the Labour Party or National Party. Many many many dark dark graves lye next to these parties. I offer my sincerest best wishes to Davies as recently elected Deputy of the Labour Party. The amount of shit coming his way is undeniable. Because just below the veneer of voters is a vile unruly sub human.

                • I’m beginning to remember why I gave up commenting on political sites. Strangely enough fiction crafters on literary threads have a greater regard for truth than many on these posts.

                  • It’s not that hard to understand. Frank puts in hard work into his blogs. Then people like you spin it to suit te agenda. But that works both ways ne.

                    • I have utmost respect for Macskasy. I have none for you.

                      Do not use my comments to further your lies again Sam. Admittedly you couldn’t even be bothered fact checking enough to get my name right; when it was right next to the comment you were making, so it is unlikely to have convinced anyone. But I still don’t like being smeared with the slime of your words.

                      2016 called, and the alt-right wants the Pepe meme all for themselves. Yet you persist to use it,.. for whatever reason.

  4. Rolinson, over on his; “Law of unintended consequences” post, points to the Labour party constitution to explain Davis going back on the list. The SPECIFIC RANKING RULES state:

    8.45.1 Positions 1 and 2 on the list are taken by the Leader and the Deputy Leader.

    8.45.2 The first position to come up for ballot for the Moderating Committee is position 3.

    The way I read this is that; Davis doesn’t have a choice about being on the list – if he is going to be deputy leader, then he will be ranked at number 2. Though I assume the electoral commission has a cutoff time before the election when any given party’s list becomes fixed (at least I hope they do!).

    So good news for Harawira, if he can get the; “two MPs for the price of one”, line out in time for Te Tai Tokerau voters to do the maths. MANA being back in parliament would seem to be a good thing for the left – as that would shift the overton window to a point where The GP are no longer the extreme of social responsibility.

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