A high tide that swept centre-right parties to their historic victory rose most strongly in Labour's traditional South Auckland strongholds.

A Herald analysis of the votes shows that the centre-right gained modest swings of between 1.7 per cent and 3 per cent across all regions. National support was virtually unchanged, but Labour's vote dropped by between 2 and 3 per cent almost everywhere except in the Maori seats.

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This, plus increased support for Colin Craig's Conservatives even though they did not make it into Parliament, was enough to lift the total centre-right share of the vote from 52.4 per cent in 2011 to 53.1 per cent - the highest since National alone won 54 per cent of the vote by outlawing the watersiders' union in 1951.

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Labour won the party vote in only five general electorates - Mangere, Manukau East and Manurewa, plus Kelston and Dunedin North. But its share of the vote in the three South Auckland seats plunged by 5.3 percentage points, from 65.3 per cent to 60 per cent.

National and NZ First gained 2 points each across the three seats, and the Conservatives gained 0.9 points. All three seats have high church-going Pacific populations and may have turned against Labour because of Manurewa MP Louisa Wall's same-sex marriage bill, along with a more general nationwide disillusionment.

Voter turnout increased in all regions, especially Christchurch (up 3.6 per cent before counting special votes) and in the Maori seats (up 4 per cent, also before counting specials), apparently helped by advance voting. Turnout rose from 74.2 per cent in 2011 to 77 per cent, reversing a declining trend.

But the historical association of higher turnouts with higher votes for the centre-left was smashed, with increased support for centre and right-wing parties.

Over the past nine years the biggest increase in the centre-right vote has been in Christchurch, with the biggest jump in 2011, apparently in gratitude for the National Government's support after the earthquake.