The 5 electorates to watch this election


It’s great having so many TDB talking points in one fairfax column!

Folks you can read it here in TDB first or wait for a Stuff journalist to rehash it 6 weeks later.

Going into the election there are 5 electorates that could be bellwethers for the election and provide insight into the formation of the Government.

Northland – Shane Jones vs Matt King

With NZ First faltering at 2% and Winston ill, Shane Jones must win Northland to keep NZ First in Parliament and to cement his own position as the future leader of the Party when Winston finally resigns. The problem for Shane is that Northland is such a white loaf knuckle dragging electorate that Jones comes across as far too cosmopolitan. Look at the National Party candidate, Matt King. He is a chunk of boiled ham with all the sophistication of a hand job in a carpark, he appeals to Northland voters the way illiteracy does.  Getting them to cross over to Shane is going to be a hard ask, but not impossible. It’s the fight of Shane’s life but he could well be NZ First’s only way back to Parliament.

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Auckland Central – Chloe vs wallpaper

With Nikki Kaye stepping down and Greens on the threshold of 5%, Auckland Central is in play.

Normally I’m a numbers guy, and the numbers here don’t in any way suggest a Chloe play in Auckland Central.

Nikki won 2017 with 13,198, Helen White (Labour) won 11 617 and Denise Roche (Green) took 2838 votes.

On those numbers, any suggestion Chloe should run hard seem absurd, but dig deeper and i would argue there is another story here.

Firstly, Denise wasn’t a candidate, she was a ‘wonderful person’, you know, in the way Marian Hobbes was a ‘wonderful person’.

‘Nough said.

In short, the Greens haven’t had a bloody candidate in Auckland Central since Nandor in 2005, so replace Denise with someone like Chloe and all bets are off.

If a virtual nobody like Helen White can gain 11 000 votes, someone with an actual personality should be able to as well. I say that in the kindest way because I’m sure Helen is lovely, but she’s not in the league of Chloe, and that’s what ultimately makes this a bigger issue to consider than the straight numbers.

It’s Chloe herself as a candidate.

There are very few politicians on the Left who are recognisably popular, Chloe and Jacinda are really the only ones. Chloe is a unique candidate whose talent, ability and bewilderingly popularity on social media cements her as a future leader of the Greens, and probably the only possible saviour of it if it slumps to lower than their 2017 result.


Tāmaki Makaurau – John Tamihere vs Peeni Henare

Exploiting the deep sense of resentment by Māori towards the neoliberal welfare agencies the Government haven’t been able to tame, John Tamihere runs for the Māori Party in Tamaki Makaurau and destroys Peeni Henare.

Many have privately suggested that Phil Goff was personally mutilated by the Mayoralty battle with Tamihere, the idea of the ultra polite Peeni being forced to face that kind of ferocity almost seems criminal.

If Tamihere can win Tamaki Makaurau, the Māori Party are back in the political equation.

Takanini – bellwether electorate

The new South Auckland electorate is called Takanini and draws population from Manurewa, the former Hunua electorate, and Papakura and includes Wattle Downs and Takanini. It’s broad swath of different voters means Takanini could become a bellwether electorate for the wider election. If Labour have truly made inroads into National, we will see it here in Takinini, if Judith has resurrected National hopes, Takinini will go Blue. Important electorate to gain an insight into NZ 2023.


Te Tai Hauāuru – Greens save Māori Party?

In 2017, the Labour candidate Adrian Rurawhe won the seat with a 1039 vote majority over the Māori Party candidate Howie Tamati. The Green Party candidate at the time, Jack McDonald, won 2798 votes.

The twist here is that Jack McDonald has walked away from the Green Party and is now supporting the current Māori Party candidate and co-leader, Debbie Ngarewa-Packer.

Labour’s decision to go ahead with oil and gas exploration in the region will ensure those Green supporters back Debbie who has been a vocal critic of ongoing gas and oil exploration.

Labour’s recent call this election to put all their Māori MPs back on the party list means the argument can be mounted that Te Tai Hauāuru voters will get two representatives for the price of one with Adrian Rurawhe off the list and Debbie as the electorate candidate.


For NZ First and the Greens who are both too close to the 5% threshold to be happy 9 weeks out from the election, a win in Northland or Auckland Central guarantees them Parliamentary representation. Likewise a win for the Māori Party in either Tāmaki Makaurau or Te Tai Hauāuru brings them into Parliament.
With an outright majority less likely for Labour with a resurgent Judith Collins, those extra parties could be crucial to the formation of the next Government.



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  1. All this is possible’ – only if Labour slips up along the way to the election in 57 days.

    I would rather see Labour coalition look ‘bold on resetting our transport priorities in our publicly owned regional rail systems that the last labour coalition Government with NZ First and greens bought back into public ownership for our health, safety and well being.?.

    Why are they all still trumpeting “roads roads roads”???

    Labour coalition should be now hotly contesting our rights to have our own taxes spent on the long restoration of the years of National Party “deferred maintenance of our railways in NZ???

    We need to reset our transport priorities for all provinces rail systems of passenger and freight services be expanded now while money is cheap and job creation is needed, to be restored finally after many years of National Governments killing off rail by stealing funds from maintenance programs. Michael Joseph Savage the first Labour Party Prime minister during the 1930’s depression did this so why can’t the model of Savage from 80 years ago be used again during this 2020 depression????

  2. The Greens got 5% last time even after their co-leader’s political suicide just before the Election. They do not need to once more ensure the election of a National Party MP in Auckland Central.

  3. I think I would be looking at the Ohariu electorate, though not because I expect an upset. Neither Labour’s Greg O’Connor, the incumbent, nor National’s Brett Hudson Have stood out during the last three years and, this time round, they are up against NZ First’s high profile Tracey Martin. In 2017 TOP’s Jessica Hammond Doube came third behind O’Connor and Hudson and she, also, is standing again. Though I don’t expect an upset in this, the “thinking electorate” (according to Tracey Martin) it will be interesting to see how the figures stack up.

  4. ” Exploiting the deep sense of resentment by Māori towards the neoliberal welfare agencies the Government haven’t been able to tame, John Tamihere runs for the Māori Party in Tamaki Makaurau and destroys Peeni Henare.
    Where was the taming of these neoliberal agencies in the nine years they propped up Key , English and Judith ?
    John Tamihere is a tory sympathiser who would give her the numbers if a prime position was in the offing.
    He is the wolf in little red riding hoods house.

  5. Uh… I think Tāmaki is definitely one to watch.

    The seat was last Labour in 1960 and it’s clearly time for a change. With no press coverage of the candidates at all, it could be hard to spot the David (or is that Davina?) and Goliath struggle taking place in the electorate. Both Shirin Brown and Carmel Claridge have local government experience and a strong understanding of Auckland issues.

    Top of the agenda is retaining the electorate, particularly those who vote, and making sure it doesn’t disappear into the sea. The difference lies in whether people should have the freedom to live in secure, warm accommodation (Shirin for Labour) or accessorise with guns (Carmel with ACT) 🙂

    Tāmaki itself represents an interesting microcosm of New Zealand society. With its disparate communities, it is home to both decile 1 and decile 10 zoned schools but very little in between. A place where identity politics are a dirty word, particularly if it means that a woman might win in the electorate for the first time ever, a place where loud harrumphing can be heard in certain circles at the mention of Our Leader, and everyone knows their place, whether in the town centre or over the hill. It has definitely changed a lot since 2011 – while women haven’t won the seat, the number of women standing is increasing to the point the current elected MP is in the minority of people standing.

    Gladiatorial preparations are taking place in the electorate from 5 to 7 this Saturday at Te Oro and anyone interested in meeting the red contender is welcome to join. Anyone found behaving badly will be thrown to the lions. You can follow the Labour Campaign at Shirin Brown Labour on facebook.

    Note: For those who might not have realised, this post satirical and in no way represents the official views of either the candidate or the Labour Party 🙂

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