Caretaker Labour Minister Peeni Henare has the unfortunate tag of losing his electorate seat by the smallest margin across all of the 72 electorates in the 2023 general election - by a mere four votes.
With the release of the full electoral votes today, including special votes, Henare has a total of 10,046 votes in the Tāmaki Makaurau Māori electorate, with Te Pāti Māori candidate Takutai Tarsh Kemp receiving 10,050 votes.
Like many Labour MPs in the 2023 election, it is a dramatic dip in performance from 2020.
Henare has held the Tāmaki Makaurau seat since 2014 and in the 2020 election won the Māori electorate convincingly with 9396 votes over nearest rival candidate Te Pāti Māori‘s Shane Rima, who received 5587 votes.
In a social media video post this afternoon, Henare said he had spoken to Labour party leadership and Chris Hipkins has already indicated he would support a recount in the seat, given the slim margin.
“The Māori Party lead the Tāmaki Makaurau seat by four votes, which is tight. In fact, I can’t even remember the last time there was a vote that tight. Anyway, that process will take [its] course and that discussion will be had,” Henare said.
Henare said he committed to not have much of a social media presence after the election until today when the full results were released.
He said it had been the “greatest honour and privilege, truly humbling to be the representative” for Tāmaki Makaurau, and said he ran a solid campaign despite a “pretty short runway”.
With a ranking of 14 on the Labour list‚ Henare will remain in Parliament for the 2023-2026 term.
Kemp told the Herald she was “humbled and overwhelmed” about the result, which she put down to Māori getting behind the movement of Te Pāti Māori.
“At the end of the day, our people heard the call. They believed, we gave them hope, proud to be Māori and our people turned out to vote,” Kemp said.
“They voted for their mokopuna, they voted for their whakapapa, they voted for an Aotearoa hou.”
On the prospect of a recount, Kemp said she would deal with that if it came to it.
“At the end of the day a win is a win. We’re here and, you know, I always want to acknowledge Peeni for all the mahi that he has done for our people in his years of service.”
Outgoing Prime Minister Chris Hipkins said today following the release of the special votes and final makeup of Parliament that the party would be considering recounts in some electorates.
On the other end of the spectrum, National MP Mark Mitchell held his Whangaparāoa electoral seat, which he won for the first time in the 2020 election, by the largest margin across the country. Mitchell had previously won the Rodney electorate since 2011.
Mitchell received 30,742 votes and his nearest rival, Labour candidate Estefania Muller Pallarès, received 7366 votes.
“I’ve been receiving very excited text messages saying that it was bigger than Jacinda Ardern’s [Mt Albert seat win] in 2020,” Mitchell said.
Ardern did have a larger percentile share of the Mt Albert electorate vote in the 2020 election than Mitchell did in 2023. But Ardern had 21,246 votes more than her nearest rival, National’s Melissia Lee, and Mitchell had 23,376 more votes than Pallarès.
Mitchell is the National spokesperson for police, corrections, counter terrorism and SFO. He was the Minister of Defence in 2017 for the National Government.
The Whangaparāoa MP said he had to juggle his responsibilities as police spokesperson on the National campaign trail with his on-the-ground electorate campaigning.
“There was a very strong law and order campaign that I was part of and I think that I had some tough issues to deal with inside my electorate which I had to deliver on during the course of the term,” Mitchell said.
“I had a very strong local team and I think those things combined definitely helped me without a doubt achieve very strong support in my own electorate.
“I had responsibilities in my portfolio to get around the country and campaign. But yes, every spare minute I had and I was campaigning in my electorate.
“There was also a strong party vote campain led by the central campaign team and Chris Luxon.”
However, Mitchell would not be drawn on whether he wanted to be the new police minister in the incoming National-led Government.
“Whatever Chris [Luxon] wants me to do to support our new incoming Government I will do”.
In another extremely tight electorate vote outcome, National’s Nelson candidate Blair Cameron led Labour’s Rachel Boyack in the electorate by 54 votes after October 14.
Following the release of special votes, he has found himself trailing by 29 - the third closest margin.
Luxon has indicated National could support recounts in Mt Albert and Nelson.
Cameron said he would support a recount taking place.
“I think it would be fair to the people of Nelson to do that because obviously it’s so close.”
He had been confident and optimistic that his lead in the electorate would hold but acknowledged how tight the margin was.
“It was always going to be very, very close and the Labour candidate had a big majority last time and I’m very proud of the efforts of me and the team.”
Tom Dillane is an Auckland-based journalist covering local government and crime as well as sports investigations. He joined the Herald in 2018 and is deputy head of news.