NZ First's campaign for a referendum on the Maori seats hit its support in the Maori seats - the party lost support across the Maori electorates this election compared to 2014.

Analysis of the seats in which NZ First performed best shows that while it still did better than its 7.2 per cent overall result in the Maori seats, its support dropped from 12-14 per cent in those electorates in 2014 to 7-9 per cent this election.

That is likely a combination of Maori voters reacting to NZ First policies against policies such as Whanau Ora and Winston Peters' call for a binding referendum on the Maori seats, as well as the surge in popularity of Labour after Jacinda Ardern took over.

NZ First once held all Maori seats and although the party no longer stands candidates in them, it has traditionally done well.


Peters had announced his plans for a binding referendum on the Maori seats at his campaign launch and also targeted Treaty clauses in legislation and special roles for Maori on local councils in his campaign.

The analysis also shows NZ First's support came mainly courtesy of voters in the conservative regional and rural areas which are safe National seats - a result which may be a factor as he determines whether to side with Labour or National to form a government.

Peters had campaigned strongly for the regional vote, using a slogan "had enough?" and pushing regional development policies in a bid to replicate his success in the Northland byelection in 2015, a success which came from tapping into dissatisfaction among the voters.

That did not pay off as he had hoped - he was aiming for 15 per cent but Ardern's elevation turned the election into a two-horse race.

NZ First's share of the vote dropped in all but three of the 15 electorates the party got the best results in. It was hard hit in Peters' former stronghold of Tauranga - NZ First dropped from 14 per cent to 11 per cent in both Tauranga and the surrounding Bay of Plenty electorate.

Its best result was in Whangarei where Shane Jones stood, pushing the party vote up from 13.35 to 14 per cent. Its second best was in Northland where the party's support reached 14 per cent - up from 2014 - although Peters lost the seat back to National's Matt King.

The third was West Coast Tasman in which NZ First went from 8.7 per cent to 9.3 per cent - perhaps a reflection of Peters' campaign to re-enter Pike River Mine in the lead up to the election.

By contrast, NZ First's vote was around 3 to 6 per cent in most Auckland-based electorates. In Auckland Central NZ First mustered up a paltry 4 per cent of the vote and in Labour leader Jacinda Ardern's Mt Albert, just 3.4 per cent. Most of its Auckland results were one to two points lower than the party's 2014 results in those seats - it polled best in Papakura (8.75 per cent) and Hunua (8.55 per cent).


Statistics on split voting are yet to be done, but initial analysis suggests Peters drew support to be the local MP in Northland in equal measure from Labour and National - about 3600 voters for each party appear to have cast votes for a candidate other than their own party's.