The Māori seats

One of the pecularities of MMP is that because of the proportional representation provided by the party vote, there is virtually no electoral benefit to winning electorate seats (there are other political benefits, which I’ve touched on previously). So even though it looks like a few seats like Napier and Christchurch Central might come down to the wire, the outcome isn’t going to change who forms government.

The one exception to that is of course parties that use the “coat-tailing” rule – that is, they get less than 5% of the party vote but still get an electorate MP and possibly some list MPs due to winning an electorate seat.

Given the survival of the Māori and Internet Mana parties both rely on winning a Māori electorate seat (as they are both polling consistently below 5%), these seven seats can actually have a very important impact on the makeup of Parliament.

One of the other unique things about the Maori seats is that they are the only electorate seats that regularly get polled. Māori TV have commissioned a series of polls from Reid Research (and TVNZ’s Marae used to also poll). I’ve compiled this years poll results, plus the results from the 2011 election and the 2011 poll results (where I can find them – if anyone has any of the missing numbers please send them through!).

It’s worth taking these results with a grain of salt – the sample sizes are very small (normally 400) and that, combined with poor turnout in the Māori seats make for lots of inaccuracies.

That said, today’s Te Tai Tokerau poll is the tightest yet – with Hone Harawira polling only one point ahead of Labour’s Kelvin Davis. If Kelvin manages to win the seat (and a good turnout operation could certainly help close that gap), then the Hone Harawira/Kim Dotcom farce is over.

Interesting times indeed.

Note: All numbers are candidate, not party vote.

Electorate Candidate 2011 poll 2011 result 2014 poll
Te Tai Tokerau Labour 35 35 37
Māori Party 20 16 9
Mana 42 41 38
Greens
Tāmaki Makaurau Labour 23 35 27
Māori Party 58 40 28
Mana 14 16 14
Greens 3 8 7
Waiariki Labour 22 25 17
Māori Party 56 43 50
Mana 22 32 21
Greens 2
Hauraki-Waikato Labour ? 54 57
Māori Party ? 16 14
Mana ? 21 10.4
Greens
Ikaroa Rāwhiti Labour ? 41 37
Māori Party ? 20 18
Mana ? 26 21
Greens ? 11 6
Te Tai Hauāuru Labour ? 30 29
Māori Party ? 48 32
Mana ? 9 10
Greens ? 11 11
Te Tai Tonga Labour 35 41 48
Māori Party 46 32 17
Mana 9 8 9
Greens 10 15 9

Bringing down a fake.

New Zealand politics is very odd at the best of times. Yesterday was particularly strange when we saw a story about how outrageous it was that Labour candidate Kelvin Davis dared to actually campaign against his opponent. We are really in the twilight zone now.

David Cunliffe is putting Labour in a very awkward position by continuing to flip flop on doing a deal with Internet Mana. Last week he refused to rule them out, but then by this morning he had entirely changed his tune

“…We’ve ruled out working with Mana in government as well. I’ve said yesterday, I’ve said before Mana will not be part of a government I lead fullstop.”

The problem is that a leader that is shifty about who he will work with will very quickly lose all credibility. He just looks hungry for power at any cost, and if he’s not going to back his own candidates and MPs, what hope do the people of New Zealand have that he will back them as Prime Minister?

Kelvin Davis is working his butt off. If you can, I’d highly recommend you make a donation to his campaign (I will be). Here are his account details:

38-9009-0235341-01
Account name: NZLP TTT Campaign Acc.

Labour has aspired to win all the Maori seats in the past, as any party which thinks it will do the best for those constituents should. But by changing those goal posts in order to do a shabby little deal, we really are no better than the Nats.

Don’t get me wrong, I want a Labour government. A deal in Te Tai Tokerau, or allowing Hone to win, would possibly assist that. But Cunliffe can’t have it both ways. He can’t go on TV and say Labour won’t work with Internet Mana, then suppress a campaign to ensure they win in Te Tai Tokerau. He can’t say that the coattails rule and rort by National in Epsom is unacceptable, then be complacent in using it to make himself the PM. It is those inconsistencies that annoy Labour’s base, shifts voters to the Greens (or even National in the case of many Labour supporters who can’t stand Internet Mana), and makes Labour’s message confused and unappealing to centre voters.

Use the rort, or don’t use it. But make a decision and stick to it.

And in his own words, this is why Kelvin Davis thinks Labour needs to bring down the fake…

I was on 3 News tonight because my campaign team had a look at a proposed website designed to take down Kim Dotcom and stop him from buying the seat of Te Tai Tokerau with his $3million dollars.

We explored this concept, debated it, then along with the Labour Party hierarchy decided it wasn’t in line with our Vote Positive messages and ditched it.

It was all about Kim Dotcom.

This is the same Kim Dotcom who donated $50,000 to far-right wing disgraced politician John Banks.

This is the same Kim Dotcom who said the police turning up at his front door was as bad as the suffering Maori have endured for close to two centuries.

This is the same Kim Dotcom had nothing to do with Maori until he found a way to take advantage of some to try to keep himself out of an American jail.

This is the same Kim Dotcom who’s garage is bigger and flasher than 99% of homes in Te Tai Tokerau, and still cries ‘poor me’.

This is the same Kim Dotcom, who if he really cared about the people of Te Tai Tokerau, would have got out with all the Labour volunteers after the floods and storms and distributed food packages to those who needed them instead of staying tucked up in the mansion.

This is the same Kim Dotcom who turned up to hui up north in a limousine while kaumatua and kuia rode in a rattly bus.

This is the same Kim Dotcom whose interference in Te Tai Tokerau politics was described as a disgrace to over 300 people at the Ngati Hine hearings in Pipiwai yesterday.

I make no apologies about looking at a website that asked the public to donate $5, $10 or whatever they wish to koha, to bring down a fake.

I’m just an ordinary Maori living up north trying to stop the biggest con in New Zealand’s political history from being pulled against my whanau, my hapu, my iwi.

I make no apologies if there’s another Maori politician in the north feeling pretty sensitive about all the criticism he’s copping from hapu throughout Te Tai Tokerau because of the con job.

I’m prepared to cop the criticism from him because it’s just the price a person pays when he stands up for his people and his principles.

Good on you Kelvin. Labour needs more people like you.

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Te Tai Tonga

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The announcement that Laila Harré had jumped ship from the Greens to lead the Internet Party ruffled a lot of feathers in the Green Party, and today’s announcement that former Labour MP Georgina Beyer is standing for the Mana Party in Te Tai Tonga is likely to have draw a similar opinion.

The big question is if she can win it. In the absence of any polling in the electorate, the best starting point is the 2011 result. Labour’s Rino Tirikatene won with a 1,475 vote majority over the sitting MP, Rāhui Kātene of the Māori Party. Despite a competitive race in which the seat changed hands, only 57% of voters bothered to turn up.

During the 2011 campaign, Mana candidate Clinton Dearlove surprised many. He performed very well during debates and in the media, but suffered simply because he didn’t have an adequate campaign machine to get his message out around this huge electorate. He only gained 1,360 votes in the end.

So what can we expect in 2014? Even if the Mana Party haven’t improved their campaign machine ( though with the support of Kim Dotcom’s millions, I wouldn’t count on it), Beyer is likely to be the beneficiary of her higher profile, and the media interest that will attract. If she can double the Mana vote, which is a huge task, then that might make some impact.

That said, Rino Tirikatene now has the advantage of incumbency (which is a huge benefit in an electorate this size). As well as that, he no longer has to face Kātene – who did run a decent campaign.

The demise of the Māori Party will certainly change the dynamic in Te Tai Tonga, but it is hard to see Georgina Beyer giving Tirikatene much of a run for his money given the size of his existing vote.