Mana Party leader Hone Harawira has held off Labour's Kelvin Davis to retain Te Tai Tokerau.

Mr Harawira took 7139 votes, compared with Mr Davis on 6265. The Maori Party's Waihoroi Shortland had also been expected to put up a strong challenge but attracted only 2705 votes.

"Money doesn't buy the north, big (party) machines don't win the north, independence wins the north,'' Mr Harawira said.

Asked what his first priority was, Mr Harawira said: ``It's to feed the children.''


Mana attracted fewer than 20,000 votes, leaving Mr Harawira its sole MP.

"I was hoping for more but we had no real way of knowing we were really up against it.

"I'm comfortable with the team we have, I'm comfortable with what needs to be done.

"If it's just me in Parliament, I'm not fazed by that.''

He believed the party's support would grow by the next election,in 2014.

"Poverty is going to really start biting in the next three years, so our message will start to resonate a lot more.''

Mr Harawira won the seat with the Maori Party in 2008 but split from the party in February, forcing a byelection in June.

He won the byelection with a majority of 1117, securing about 49 percent of votes cast to Mr Davis's 40 percent.

Mr Harawira's election party was held in Kaitaia's Bank Street, where supporters tonight welcomed Mr Harawira with a powhiri followed by a stirring haka.

"Our campaign has been run as a war on poverty,'' he told TV3. ``It's nice to come back here and occupy Bank Street.''

About 200 people attended the street party, which supporters closing the street with logs and cones. A truck and trailer unit served as a stage on what has been a chilly night in the winterless north.