The Maori seats are among the most marginal seats in the house, and the most exhilarating.

Nothing else came close. Last night showed that if you lose by 1000 or 1100, like Labour's Kelvin Davis did in 2011 you can get it back at the next election.

The other major event was Hone Harawira's loss in Te Tai Tokerau. He will leave a hole in Parliament - the representation of the radicals, the activists and protesters, able to stand up and challenge anybody.

Harawira didn't lose because National, Labour and New Zealand First ganged up on him.


He lost because of his link with Kim Dotcom. That was his achilles heel.

I've always voted for Harawira since he's been running, but yesterday I gave my party vote to National, and my candidate vote to Kelvin Davis - the first time I've voted for anyone in the Labour Party.

Harawira would have had a chance if he had stayed the course in terms of his whole philosophy around the Mana Party, but he diluted the brand.

What will happen to Mana or the Internet Party? Who knows? But it's a hell of a struggle if you're outside Parliament and you don't have the resources.

The Maori vote actually saved Labour's arse. One of the things the Labour Party should do at their first caucus meeting is to get all the Maori MPs together and figure out the direction of the Maori contingent.

The Maori Party also has to think seriously about their future. They have been bleeding continuously, like an injured person, and lost two seats to Labour. They lost not because of anything Labour did, but because Maori were asking what they got out of the deal with National.

Harawira got stuff on his own - a big review on tobacco, and shifting the debate on feeding the kids. In the past six years, what did the Maori Party deliver?

Whanau Ora. That's it.


They are the only independent Maori voice in Parliament now, not tied to left or right, and they have to regroup and put in a strategy of where they want to get to by 2017.

That means putting down on paper what they want out of any deals, no matter who is in Government, like 5000 new Maori apprenticeships, or cutting the Maori inmate rate in prison to 20 per cent, 40 per cent, whatever - but at least have a target.

Those are deliverables, not some wishy-washy thing like we should all contribute to the economy.

The heat now is really on Labour MPs Kelvin Davis, Adrian Rurawhe [Te Tai Hauauru] and Peeni Henare [Tamaki Makaurau] to show what they can do.

They need to forcefully talk about deliverables, and be willing to speak out for the electorate, even it means going against the party line. These are the people that voted them in.

If Davis plays games about representation, that's a huge opportunity for somebody else like Harawira to build his profile again and take him down at the next election.

Commiserations to him. I know what it's like to wake up in the morning and to know that you've lost. Losing a general seat is different. There's history and genealogy in a Maori seat.

As for me, any suggestion to stand again for any party is futile. My political career is done and dusted. I'm too old, too slow. Congratulations to the three new Maori electorate MPs. They did extremely well.

Tau Henare has just retired as a National list MP. He is a former New Zealand First MP, a former MP for Northern Maori, a former Minister of Maori Affairs and a prolific user of social media.