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The writing is on the wall

Four weeks out from the election, it seems the writing is on the wall for Labour. New Zealand wants a change of government.

Monday night’s poll looked like the final nail in the coffin for Labour, which would now need something like a miracle to close the ever-widening gap.

National support grew to 40.9 per cent, and Labour crashed to 26.8, its lowest result since Jacinda Ardern took the helm in 2017.

According to Monday’s that poll, a National-Act coalition would have 66 seats, leaving a 54-seat Labour-Green-Te Pāti Māori opposition.

Winston might just sneak over 5 per cent, but his bitter relationship with David Seymour should be enough to keep him out of government.

People on the right will be celebrating the prospect of a government promising lower taxes, big cutbacks on government spending, new highways, tougher sentencing for criminals, and a rollback on environmental regulations for farmers.

People on the left will despair at the prospect of a government promising to gut the public sector, do less to protect the environment, invest less in public transport, do less to help the young, poor, and disabled, and give tax cuts disproportionately favouring those with more income and wealth.

What has Labour done to get into this situation?

It won a landslide in 2020, winning enough seats to govern alone.

Jacinda Ardern’s covid-19 wage subsidy and border lockdown proved enormously popular with voters in a time of crisis.

But two years of high inflation, increasing government debt, and a huge increase in the cost of living have got voters looking for a switch up.

Labour’s Chris Hipkins is seen as marginally preferable to Chris Luxon as prime minister, but the party split is clearly in favour of the blue team.

If Monday’s polling trend continues in the coming weeks, we will see the following in the election: People voting National because they want to be on the winning team, Labour supporters voting Green out of protest, or not voting because they don’t want to vote for a losing team, and people murmuring about rolling Hipkins.

In the electorate races, David Seymour should win New Zealand’s wealthiest electorate, Epsom, and his lieutenant Brooke van Velden is running a tight race in similarly wealthy former Muldoon electorate of Tāmaki.

The Green Party’s Chloe Swarbrick [Auckland Central] and Tamatha Paul [Wellington Central] are running hearty campaigns in electorates full of young people living in flats, working in bars, and catching the bus.

In the Māori seats, Te Pāti Māori should be advantaged by Labour’s Māori caucus, weakened by the departure of Kiri Allan and Meka Whaitiri. I expect competitive Labour vs TPM races in every Māori seat.

Wairarapa will be an interesting race. Historically, we are a rural swing electorate with a slight National lean.

Mike Butterick, 61st on the National list, will be in the fight of his life to use the recent upsurge of support for his party to try and close the 6500-vote margin held by Kieran McAnulty, 16th on the Labour list.

I suspect Butterick will close that gap considerably, but we’ll have to wait and see whether it will prove enough to cause an upset.


  1. Labour party and greens have put new Zealanders in this financial situation. We have so many regulations on environmental issues it’s driving new Zealand bankrupt and this government blames everything except its policies. If you want the same keep them in power or change, it’s your choice.

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Flynn Nicholls
Flynn Nicholls
Flynn Nicholls is a reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age who regularly writes about education. He is originally from Wellington and is interested in environmental issues and public transport.

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