Saturday night saw one of the most interesting elections in my voting lifetime.

At the beginning of the year, it was looking like National would easily sail into a fourth term.

Then we had resignations from Andrew Little, Metiria Turei and Peter Dunne and everything changed.

Labour was in with a chance, United Future was on the out and NZ First and the Greens were losing popularity.


It all ended in a bit of a stalemate on Saturday night and we'll no doubt be waiting a while yet for Winston Peters to decide which way he'll jump, once again relishing the power that comes with being the kingmaker under MMP.

The shock result of the night was Te Ururoa Flavell's loss to Tamati Coffey in our own Waiariki, and the news the Maori Party will not be returning to government at all.

If National forms a government, this leaves Maori with no seat at the table as all the Maori electorate Labour MPs will be in opposition.

Peters said before the election that holding a referendum on whether to keep New Zealand's Maori seats will be a bottom line for coalition talks.

If he sticks to this demand, for either National or Labour to make a deal with Peters, they will have to agree to hold this referendum and its potential result of scrapping Maori seats.

If Flavell had retained Waiariki, it would have stripped Peters of much of this power as the Maori Party could have joined forces with National and Act again, putting NZ First back into opposition.

Instead, all the power now sits with Peters.

Losing the Maori seats would be a victory for some voters, but I doubt any of Coffey's supporters would rejoice at this potential loss of representation for the Maori people.