• VOTES COUNTED: - 36,597- 99.3%
• LEADING CANDIDATE: Kiri Allan - 18,359
• 2nd CANDIDATE: Tania Tapsell -13,718
• CURRENT MARGIN: - 4,641
• PARTY VOTE LEAD:Labour Party - 49.3%
• 2nd PARTY: National Party - 28.2%
National's Tania Tapsell says losing the East Coast electorate to Labour's Kiri Allan was a surprise and it hurt.
But she is more disappointed for the constituents in the electorate.
"We've seen how much the Government hurt the East Coast in the last three years and I don't believe they will deliver in the next three years."
The electorate has been a National Party stronghold and Tapsell, who is a current Rotorua district councillor, was tipped to take it following the resignation of outgoing MP Anne Tolley. But Tapsell was one of the many victims of the massive swing to Labour after the left romped home to take the election.
Tapsell lost considerably by more than 4646 votes. With 98.5 per cent of the votes counted, she got 13,690 votes compared with Allan's 18,336 votes.
She said she would take the time to recharge the batteries and reflect on the campaign before being back at it.
"I'm not going anywhere."
She said the swing towards Labour was just too big to overcome.
Tapsell had taken an approved leave of absence from her role on the council during the campaign period. If she had won, it would have forced a bi-election.
Fellow councillor Fisher Wang was at her election party at the Whakatāne Bridge Club i support.
When asked if there was anything she would do differently Tapsell said no.
"I did all that I could with what I had and I'm okay with that."
Once Allan knew she had won, she said it had been a "brilliant night" and now the music was being turned up and the dancing was starting.
"The picture has become a lot clearer and I'd like to thank the people who have supported me supported Labour and supported Jacinda."
Allan said she only felt truly confident in the result around 10.30pm when a majority of votes had been counted. But she said the result was a reflection of what she was hearing on the ground.
"I really noticed a massive shift earlier this year. The number of people who had been blue voters saying they were switching was astounding. People from businesses, farming, horticulture. People that had been Blue their whole lives were saying 'I think you've done a brilliant job'."
Allan said Tapsell was an "incredible young woman".
"She put her hand into the ring and it's a hard task and I think she ran a campaign full of integrity."
Tolley said the result was "terribly sad".
"Some of my great colleagues have lost their seats. Covid 19 has just changed the world and the face of New Zealand politics.
"Ahead of Covid-19 we were looking like we were going to be the next Government but people are afraid and they have faith in the Government. But they can't deliver."
Tolley believed in a couple of years, New Zealanders would "realise they have made a mistake".
Addressing her election party, Tapsell said the campaign had been a long one but brought the largest electorate in the North Island together.
Earlier in the evening electorate chair Trish Collett farewelled Tolley.
"It's a bittersweet moment because tonight is the night the honourable Anne Tolley has her last night as an MP. Her contribution to children of New Zealand and the community has been immeasurable.
"Anne has been a stalwart for us. You've made us incredibly proud with the things you have done."
Tolley remained upbeat about the results until towards the end, even saying earlier on the gap could have closed.
"I'd like to pay tribute to Tania who has run a fantastic campaign. Every election I've sat in various rooms around the region and the early booths have given it to Labour.
"The first time we won we thought we'd lost it until the last booth came in, so fingers crossed," Tolley said.
Tolley said she had gone and voted today.
"And this is the first time in 21 years I have not voted for myself. I voted for you."
Supporters also remained upbeat, with one bringing her a cake that had a picture on it showing her campaigning.
Also earlier in the night, Tapsell's parents, Roana Bennett and Terry Tapsell, told the Rotorua Daily Post they couldn't be prouder of her.
"She's run a really good race, like everything she does, she's committed," Bennett said.
"We don't know what's going to happen until the final votes are counted but whatever she tries her hand at she gives 100 per cent."
Terry Tapsell said five of Tapsell's siblings had also come to support.
"We're so proud of her whether she wins or loses that's immaterial. We're very proud, she's achieved so much already and she's still young."
Terry Tapsell said this was just another chapter in his daughter's life and they didn't yet know how the book would end.
Allan will be one of the youngest representatives in their party.
Tolley has held the seat for five terms, first winning it in 2005 after Labour's Janet Mackey retired.
The seat has been a National stronghold since Tolley won but there has been a slight shift in the past decade.
National won 49.77 per cent of the vote to Labour's 23.87 in 2011, then 48.62 per cent to Labour's 22.74 in 2014. And in 2017, 44.24 per cent of voters ticked National, compared to 36.8 per cent Labour.
The next-highest polling party behind them was the Green Party in 2011 and New Zealand First in 2014 and 2017.
The shift was also seen in individual candidate votes, with Tolley winning 52.38 per cent of the vote in 2014 to then Labour candidate Moana Mackey's 29.39 per cent – Mackey was the daughter of former seat holder Janey Mackey - followed by a drop to 46.7 per cent for Tolley in 2017 to Kiri Allen's 33.88 per cent.
The margin decreased from 7934 in 2014 to 4807 last election.
According to parliamentary statistics, at 13,768sq km the East Coast is the largest of the general electorates in the North Island. It extends from the outskirts of Te Puke, through Whakatāne and encompasses the entire East Cape including Gisborne.
Compared with other electorates, the electorate has the highest proportion of Māori (48.3 per cent), Māori speakers (15.2 per cent), regular smokers (20.9 per cent) and those who look after a child who does not live in their own household (19.6 per cent).