Whangārei MP Dr Shane Reti says there are five main reasons why the electorate result is on a knife edge after election night failed to declare a clear winner.
As Reti and his supporters watched the election night results come through it was a roller coaster ride of emotions - "nerve-racking" as Reti put it - as the battle with Labour's Emily Henderson swung backwards and forwards.
With around 75 per cent of the votes counted National's Reti was behind Henderson by a couple of hundred votes.
But as the votes from the later polling booths were counted Reti slowly started inching closer, then by the end of the night he was ahead.
Reti won on the night over Henderson with 15,637, votes, compared to the first-time candidate's 15,475. It's a 162 vote lead, but that was far too close for the incumbent to claim victory.
Yesterday Reti was at his electorate office tidying up after a long campaign and could have to wait until November 6 to find out if he is back as Whangārei MP.
Regardless of that, Reti will still return to Parliament if the election night result is overturned after special votes are counted, given his high placing on National's party list.
The final result could also be delayed if either side asks for a recount, if the tally is within a few hundred votes.
Reti said with special votes still to be counted — and he said his scrutineers at Whangārei voting places had noticed a lot of special votes being cast on Saturday, and far more than normal, he wasn't prepared to claim the win.
Special votes include people who voted from outside their electorate, overseas, in prison or hospital, or who enrolled late.
Reti said there were five main reasons for the race being so close - the Covid-19 election, which took all oxygen out of the campaign; moving the Whangārei electorate boundary, which saw several thousand people from the National-supporting rural sector into the Northland electorate; the Greens' candidate Moea Armstrong urging her supporters to give their electorate vote to Henderson; the collapse of the NZ First vote and the "red surge" that swept the country.
He said Labour swept to power - despite releasing very few policies this campaign - more because of public perception than delivery.
''For example, their health manifesto compared to ours. Ours was way more advanced and more comprehensive.''
And Labour was not clear on whether Northland District Health Board would survive its planned reduction in the number of DHBs across the country. Reti said he would be holding the Government to task on that and a number of other issues that could seriously impact on Whangārei and Northland.
''I've got some concerns about the move to centralise services, which I don't think will be in our best interests. Will we lose our DHB when they cut the numbers? That should have been clearly spelt out on the campaign trail,'' he said.
''I've also got concerns about the Three Waters centralisation, that no council seems to want, that could see our councils lose control of their water services and infrastructure.''
Reti said the composure National had in defeat is the composure that will see them win in 2023.
''I want to first acknowledge the fine result from the Government and thank all of the local candidates for the respect we have shown each other during the campaign. Democracy has ensued and we must now use whatever hand we have been given to improve the life of those who have asked us to be their voice.''
Reti said jobs should be the main focus from the next Government for Northland with the best way to achieve that through major infrastructure projects for the region.
He hoped the Government would four-lane State Highway 1 from Whangārei to Te Hana and take on National's plan to build a $300m dry dock at Northport, at Marsden Pt.
''Whangārei has lost 110 jobs from the closure of Carter Holt Harvey's timber mill, another 164 from Carter's LVL plant at Marsden Pt and 100 are due to go from the Marsden Pt oil refinery.
''The dry dock would create 400 jobs, which would roughly make up for those being lost, so if the Government wants to create jobs, keep the dry dock plan and build the four-lane highway.''
Reti said regardless of the final results, he would still be in Parliament and would continue fighting to do the best for the people of Whangārei.
He said despite the closed result he was pleased that his support, once the thousands taken from the boundary readjustment were taken into account, was similar to the 2017 election.
Reti said he fully supported National leader Judith Collins to remain in the role and get the party ready for the 2023 election.
The official results process is expected to be completed in 20 days. All advance and election day votes will be recounted. Special declaration votes will be processed and counted. All referendum votes will be counted and the target to release the Official Results of the 2020 general election and referendums is 2pm on November 6.