The Labour Party's Taupō electorate candidate Ala' Al-Bustanji says he has been able to catch up on some missed sleep between election day and his return to work yesterday.
In his second tilt at the Taupō seat, Al-Bustanji was unsuccessful in toppling the electorate's incumbent National Party MP Louise Upston from her spot but did reduce Upston's majority from 14,335 votes in the 2017 election to 5254 this year, according to provisional results.
However, he was pleased that overall the Taupō electorate went to Labour in the party vote, with 43.8 per cent of the vote compared to National's 33.8 per cent of the vote, the first time Labour has won the party vote in the electorate since 2002.
Al-Bustanji said although it had been a tough campaign, made more difficult by Covid-19 restrictions which prevented public meetings and large gatherings, he was happy with the overall results.
"This is a huge victory for Labour and a huge victory for New Zealand. This is a team that has been looking after New Zealand and now we have the chance to continue doing that with a strong team and more power, this is history really," he said.
"And when it comes to our electorate we also made history with our party vote. We won the party vote for the first time in more than 15 years and won it by a landslide, it's really big ... and with the candidate vote the margin's gone down by 9000 votes and that's massive. That means next time we can turn it around and actually win the seat.
"This is now a marginal seat, believe it or not. The time of the National MP enjoying the huge relaxed majority is now history."
However, Al-Bustanji congratulated Upston on her win and said she had a tough job ahead of her.
He said despite campaigning being a lot of work, he also enjoyed it.
"We ran a positive campaign, a respectful campaign ... for me the good times were far more than the tough times.
"Definitely I was hoping to become the MP and I know there was a chance and we didn't get there but I'm happy not just because this is a huge win for Labour in total and not just because we won the party vote here.
"I'm also happy because I have more mates in Parliament to provide more Labour presence in this electorate and more support and help, and hopefully we can help this community to achieve more."
Al-Bustanji said he was happy to return to his job as a corrections officer this week.
"I'm going back to a workplace that I really love and people that I have great respect for and they are like my family. They have been very supportive and I'm really looking forward to being back to a job that I love being part of."
He said he would put his hand up for the Taupō Labour Party candidacy in 2023 and hoped the party would select him again.
In the meantime, he was looking forward to hearing the results of the special votes, which he was optimistic would result in extra votes for Labour.