The Waiariki electorate has spoken and it has chosen Tamati Coffey.

Labour's Coffey is the new Waiariki MP with incumbent Te Ururoa Flavell out of Parliament - along with his Maori Party.

With 100 per cent of the votes counted, Coffey had 9847 votes and Flavell had 8526.

In his victory speech in front of a loud and delighted crowd of supporters at Hinemihi Marae Coffey thanked his supporters.


He paid tribute in particular to Te Arawa kaumatua Dr Ken Kennedy.

"I have grown into a stronger, more confident person within my Maoritanga (because of him)."

He then thanked his partner, Tim Smith.

"Timmy. I absolutely wouldn't be standing here if it wasn't for Tim's love and support."

He said Smith had been his campaign manager through both his election campaigns as well as managing the couple's Rotorua bar Ponsonby Rd.

"My elevation to parliament is as much yours as mine.

"I am the greatest fan of you Timmy, I love you."

Coffey said the four years campaigning had been "the longest job interview of my life".


He then went on to make pledges to those across his electorate.

"You can rely on me to be there. To be the soldier for our people on the marae, the streets and in parliament."

Earlier, Flavell all but conceded his Waiariki seat to Coffey in an emotional speech to his supporters where he told the crowd "I'm coming home".

Through tears Flavell told the equally emotional supporters, some who were holding their heads in their hands crying, that he was sad and felt Maori had now lost their voice in Parliament.

"Tomorrow when you wake up there are likely to be seven seats back in the hands of Labour who are likely to be in opposition. So don't tangi back to me."

He said he was disappointed he wasn't able to maintain that link from the past into the future.


"I feel heavy at heart but the people have spoken, even in Waiariki they have spoken and I can't get away from that."

A downcast Te Ururoa Flavell is comforted by wife Erana after his election loss tonight. Photo/Alan Gibson
A downcast Te Ururoa Flavell is comforted by wife Erana after his election loss tonight. Photo/Alan Gibson

At times admitting he was a little bit lost for words, Flavell said he fought for a party to have its own voice.

"I hope they don't wake up tomorrow shaking their heads because I don't want to hear that ... tonight, it's gone and that's the sad part. I don't want to hear people talk about tino rangatiratanga and mana motuhake because we had it and now it's gone.

"But I'm not going to go to bed too sad because I tried my very best. It is what it is."

He thanked his family, particularly his wife Erana.

Mr Flavell said although he had not officially conceded, if Coffey and the six other successful Maori candidates throughout the country had the best interests of Maori at heart, he would be happy.


"Thank you so much for backing me and for backing my party."

Te Ururoa Flavell arrives at Waiteti Marae to address his supporters.

Posted by Rotorua Daily Post on Saturday, 23 September 2017

Former Maori Party president Pem Bird said despite feeling "distraught and disillusioned" he urged the party to come back stronger than ever in three years' time.

"Te Ururoa you have made sacrifices, time with your whanau, but you've never sacrificed your principles."

One of his staff members, Pare Richards, said everyone at the party tonight knew Flavell was "amazing".

She said he was the same person before he came into Parliament, he was the same while he was an MP and a Minister and he would be the same person tomorrow.

"You don't change and that's why we love you."


The crowd at Hinemihi Marae fell silent as they watched Flavell give his concession speech.

Coffey urged his supporters to show respect to his competitor and looked solemn as Flavell wiped the tears from his eyes.

A cheer never came from the crowd and Coffey said it was a big moment.

"I could feel the aroha from his stage," he said.

"As he said, the people have spoken."

Speaking to the Rotorua Daily Post, Coffey said it had been a big night for a lot of people, not just him.


"This win is not just for me. This win is for everybody here and for all the iwi across the Waiariki."

He said he had to be in Auckland at 8am tomorrow so the celebrations wouldn't be too big tonight.

Winner: Tamati Coffey. Photo/Stephen Parker
Winner: Tamati Coffey. Photo/Stephen Parker


Labour Party supporters at Hinemihi Marae are celebrating as each winning Labour seat comes across the TV screen.

The excitement is building, with Coffey getting a standing ovation as his lead continues to grow.

Coffey said he was still hopeful for a Labour government.


"Give it an hour or so and we'll see what a potential left wing coalition might look like.

"To Maori they [the Maori seats] are of the utmost importance.

"They are our voice in parliament."

Meanwhile at at Waiteti Marae near Ngongotaha where the Maori Party faithful are gathered, Russell Harrison is singing the reggae hit, No Woman No Cry.

Maori Party Waiariki co-chairman Te Taru White said if the votes kept going the way they were it would be a "travesty" for Maori.

He said the way it was heading, National and New Zealand First would form the next Government and the Maori Party would be out.


"None of the Maori members will have a say other than the Maori (Winston Peters) who wants to repeal the Maori voice. It's a travesty.

"The people look to be voting for change but I don't think they realise what change will be. In the process (of voting Labour) they have taken out the Maori Party, the only Maori voice in there."

White said he believed the Maori Party had not been able to resonate with the younger voters, which he said was sad.

"That's difficult to swallow. Our motto is about doing it for ourselves and taking hold of our own destiny."

He said it would be a great shame if Waiariki didn't have Flavell as its representative.

"He is a hard worker and he is honest."


Earlier the Maori Party supporters were given a boost of confidence after watching co-leader Marama Fox in a Maori Television interview on the big screen.

Fox said "it ain't over until the fat lady sings" and urged those in the Waiariki electorate not to give up hope.

There were cheers of support when she said the turn to Labour was a backwards step for Maori.

"They've changed the driver but it's still the same bus," Fox said on the Maori Television cross.

The latest results showing Coffey has increased his lead has been met with a dignified silence from the Maori Party supporters.

Earlier, Coffey said he was "quietly optimistic" so far but it was still "early days".


The Labour supporters gathered at Hinemihi Marae burst into applause each time the results - showing Coffey with his nose in front of Flavell - are shown on the large TV screen.

Tamati Coffey (right) at the Labour Party gathering. Photo/Stephen Parker
Tamati Coffey (right) at the Labour Party gathering. Photo/Stephen Parker

About 250 Maori Party supporters, family and friends of Flavell are at Waiteti Marae near Ngongotaha.

Entertainer Russell Harrison keeps the crowd positive at the Maori Party party.

Posted by Rotorua Daily Post on Saturday, 23 September 2017
Supporters of Maori Party leader Te Ururoa Flavell pictured at Waiteti Marae in Rotorua.
Supporters of Maori Party leader Te Ururoa Flavell pictured at Waiteti Marae in Rotorua.

Flavell said it was always going to be a tight race with Coffey because he was a "personality" before entering politics.

Supporters of Labour's Waiariki candidate Tamati Coffey are watching the results as they come in at Hinemihi Marae.

Posted by Rotorua Daily Post on Saturday, 23 September 2017

"He has been on TV and people knew him ... Maori politics is very much about personality."

Maori Party leader Te Ururoa Flavell pictured at Waiteti Marae in Rotorua tonight.
Maori Party leader Te Ururoa Flavell pictured at Waiteti Marae in Rotorua tonight.

However, Flavell said he had done the hard yards and he hoped his record spoke for itself.

Flavell said he spent today reflecting on what he had done and the campaign as well as attending to routine chores, including looking after his moko and mowing the lawns.


He said in seeking a fourth term, he hoped his record spoke for itself.

"If it doesn't then so be it."

However, he said he was still feeling confident despite the early results, especially since there had been two polls done including Maori Television's poll and an internal poll, which both put him about 20 per cent ahead.

Entertainer Russell Harrison has picked up the mood of the Maori Party with a few sing-a-long songs.

Kirsten Rei from the Maori Party has just told the crowd how the voting system worked and why the supporters shouldn't be worried.

She said it was the first time there had been so many advance votes. She said younger people were more likely to cast advance votes and the Maori Party traditionally attracted older voters.


"We should start to see things climb.

"While I don't want to give you false hopes, we have nothing to worry about whanau, keep singing Russell."

Flavell said the change in Labour's leadership to Jacinda Ardern and the rise in Labour's popularity would have helped Coffey.

Maori Party election night party in Rotorua.
Maori Party election night party in Rotorua.

Maori Party supporter Fallyn Flavell said this was the first time the party in Waiariki had been in this position.

"That is why it is so stagnant (at tonight's gathering). We have always been ahead. This is very unusual territory for us."

However Ms Flavell said the "Maori Party hard" supporters knew it was early days, only a small percentage of votes had been counted and they were confident it would swing back the other way later in the night.


"The faith is strong that we will pull through. It comes down to those older voters. The ones that have been voting continuously throughout every election (on Election Day) that will pull through later on tonight."

Around 8.45pm Maori Party Rotorua candidate Wendy Biddle arrived with her whanau.

She said she enjoyed the campaign.

"I am just praying that our people come through for our Maori Party because we are the only kaupapa Maori driven party. We are not the party that has to toe the party line, we are there for Maori and the rest of the country get to benefit as a bonus."

She said she would like to thank all of her supporters for helping her through her journey, including her fellow Rotorua candidates.

"We actually had a good rapport and I told them at our last gathering that I'm going to miss them."


Just before 8pm, Rotorua mayor Steve Chadwick arrived at Hinemihi Marae to support Coffey and Labour Rotorua candidate Ben Sandford.

She said it certainly takes her back to her own election night.

"At this stage it's very nerve wrecking," she said.

"It's certainly not the tidal wave Labour were expecting."

Chadwick said it was still too early to call.

"No matter who wins, I will work with them for the best interests of this city.


"All of our candidates have worked so hard."

Flavell, who has won the seat for he last three elections, has enjoyed a meal with his supporters. They have a large screen set up where they are watching the results as they come in.

Coffey said he chose the marae because it was his mother's.

Tonight the whare kai has been plastered in red with Labour Party signs and red balloons across the walls.

The atmosphere is one of nervous excitement with Coffey saying it was too close to call.

As he gave an opening address the weather played on the large screen behind him, something the former TV weatherman joked was "oddly appropriate".