There has never been an election that was so dependent on the Maori electorates, so let’s have a look seat by seat at the prospects for Election 2017.
Te Tai Tokerau:
This is going to be a fascinating battle between Hone and Kelvin. Before Kelvin was lifted up into the Deputy position and put onto the Party list, many felt he had done enough to see off Hone’s fight for the seat, but with him on that list, the 2 for 1 argument is very powerful for Maori voters. Add to this Hone’s amazing election performance to date and without a Maori Party candidate spoiling his run, you would have to predict Hone to win this seat and by doing so, making it more difficult for National to form a Government after the election. Hone might get his ‘Feed the Kids’ Bill after all.
Latest Polling shows that Meka Whaitiri will take this seat despite the far more charismatic Marama Fox. This could be problematic for Fox as she is utterly dependent on the Maori Party picking up at least one Maori electorate to get back inside Parliament.Prediction is for Meka to hold this seat but there is still a large residual MANA Party vote that could still rally for Fox.
Te Tai Tonga:
The dream is for Metiria True to win this seat as some sort of recognition for her courageous admission of welfare fraud, but the voters seem to be saying Rino Tirikatene will be returned with an enormous majority. The Greens are working very hard in this electorate, but the smart money is on another Labour seat retention.
Te Tai Hauāuru:
A shock surprise for Maori Party candidate Howie Tamati beating Adrian Rurawhe in the poll, this could be a genuine upset brewing. While Adrian carried a healthy majority of around 1500 votes in 2014, in 2011 this was Tariana Turia’s seat and she dominated the numbers. There is a strong Maori Party voter base here and it looks like Howie may have tapped into it.
After the Maori King had so actively supported the Maori Party as part of a pan-Maori political uprising, there were some who suggested this could damage Nanaia’s chances of holding onto the seat, but latest polling sees her romping home over the Maori Party candidate. Her 8000 majority looks perfectly safe.
The latest polling devastates Tamati Coffey’s attempt to beat Flavell, but with the Jacinda effect having such an enormous impact on the Maori electorates, no one feels completely confident in ruling Coffey out, especially if he can get younger voters to the polls.
Peeni Henare faces a strong challenge from Shane Taurima and the vote sapping power of Marama Davidson to contend with and could have been in some serious trouble if Jacinda hadn’t come along. It will be tight, but Peeni should bring this home for Labour again.
There’s a chance Labour could lose Te Tai Tokerau and Te Tai Hauāuru and possibly gain Waiariki, but only focusing on the electorates misses the bigger picture, and that’s in Party vote. The Party vote determines the final shape of the Parliament and in this case, the Party vote that Maori voters are looking to send Labour is enormous and could well see Labour in the mid 40s.
Either way, Labour will owe Maori an enormous level of gratitude if these results come to fruition on Election Day.