One Question Quiz


Hipkins is back on the road

It’s Friday, October 6 and welcome along to The Spinoff’s election live updates. There’s just eight days until polls close. I’m Stewart Sowman-Lund. 

Want to get in touch? Reach me on

Learn more about the parties at

The agenda

Remember to send photos of your dogs (just dogs) at polling booths to

Support our election coverage

The Spinoff’s coverage of the 2023 election is powered by the generous support of our members. If you value what we do and believe in the importance of independent and freely accessible journalism – tautoko mai, donate today.


Hipkins is back on the road

It’s Friday, October 6 and welcome along to The Spinoff’s election live updates. There’s just eight days until polls close. I’m Stewart Sowman-Lund. 

Want to get in touch? Reach me on

Learn more about the parties at

The agenda

Remember to send photos of your dogs (just dogs) at polling booths to

Support our election coverage

The Spinoff’s coverage of the 2023 election is powered by the generous support of our members. If you value what we do and believe in the importance of independent and freely accessible journalism – tautoko mai, donate today.

Oct 6 2023

The daily wrap

That’s us for the week, unless any big news breaks over the weekend. When we’re back on Monday it’ll be just five days until polls close.

To cap off the week, here’s a look at some of the day’s top reads.

Bye for now!

National’s Mahesh Muralidhar on being ‘Auckland’s unofficial dog-whisperer’


Ahead of October 14, we asked an assortment of MPs and candidates from across the political spectrum for their favourite door knocking story from the election campaign. Today: Auckland Central’s National candidate Mahesh Muralidhar.

Ah, door knocking – a campaigner’s equivalent to an urban safari adventure, especially in Auckland Central! With around 8,000 knocks under my belt, there’s no shortage of memorable moments. From the sheer number of wagging tails and furry greetings – honestly, I think I’ve become Auckland’s unofficial dog-whisperer – to the heartfelt chats with residents (in bathrobes no less!), it’s been quite the journey.

One that stands out is a conversation with a single mother, a nurse navigating the challenges of the healthcare bureaucracy and cost-of-living crisis. Over coffee, she poured out stories of her struggles, her kids, and the exodus of her peers due to better opportunities in Aus. It’s conversations like these that underscore the importance of what we do. 

Oh, and a word to the wise for any aspiring politicians out there: manage your hydration on the trail! While water is essential, let’s just say there’s a delicate balance to strike when you’re hours deep into door-knocking and restrooms are scarce. Learn from my “close calls” – if you catch my drift!

With just eight days to go, we’ll be publishing the remainder of our door knocking dispatches next week…

Biggest day for voting yet

Yesterday saw 82,983 votes cast, the highest daily total of the four days of advance voting so far. It brings the total early vote tally to more than 287,000, which is slightly more than 8% of the total number of people enrolled.

Chlöe Swarbrick casts ballot in bid to encourage rangatahi to vote 

Swarbrick casts her ballot at the Waipapa Taumata Rau swarmed by media.

Rangatahi are the least likely group to vote in New Zealand. In the last election, only 63.8% of eligible voters under 34 cast a ballot, whereas 82.3% of New Zealanders over 34 exercised their democratic right to vote. The skew towards older New Zealanders being nearly 20% more likely to vote than youth means the rangatahi voice is underrepresented in parliament. Although 18 to 24-year-olds represent the second biggest voting block (trailing only those over 70), they had the lowest voter turnout (60.9%) of any age group in 2020.

This afternoon at Waipapa Taumata Rau/The University of Auckland, local MP Chlöe Swarbrick cast her vote in a bid to encourage its tauira [students] to head to the campus’s voting booths (find these in the quad above the campus store). Last election, there were no voting booths at New Zealand universities, said Swarbrick, who’s happy that voting is more accessible for students this year. There are now voting stations at campuses across the country.

Swarbrick casts her ballot at the Waipapa Taumata Rau swarmed by media.
Swarbrick casts her ballot at the Waipapa Taumata Rau swarmed by media (Photo: The Spinoff)

Yet only time will tell how successful the initiative will be at promoting youth voting. When Swarbrick voted at the University of Auckland – presumably two ticks Green – there were more journalists taking photos of her than actual students voting. However, a steady trickle of tauira filtered into the booths throughout the afternoon. That trickle was undoubtedly impacted by Swarbrick’s visit. One student ran into the quad yelling, “I’m going to vote, come vote, Chlöe is upstairs!” – while others lined up to chat and take photos with the high-profile Green MP.

When we asked Swarbrick how the youth voter turnout could be improved, she stressed the importance of civics education at schools – meaning a chance to learn about how our political system operates. “Civics education is fundamentally important, but it takes a long time,” said Swarbrick. While door-knocking and phone-banking this campaign, Swarbrick and her team have encountered plenty of misconceptions about our political system – misconceptions she believes civics education would help stamp out. 

The Spinoff asked Swarbrick if she was confident she’ll become the first ever Green MP to win an electorate in back-to-back elections. “I’m feeling good. I’m feeling as though we have an immense opportunity,” she said. She hopes her local mahi, like opposing mayor Wayne Brown’s budget proposal earlier this year, will garner votes in Auckland Central. But Swarbrick elaborated that “nothing can be taken for granted in politics. No politician or political party are entitled to anything”.

All the polls singing from same hymn sheets

Screenshot-2023-10-06-at-1.46.56 PM.png

With the release of the Curia/TPU poll today, we can look at the latest results from four big, reputable pollsters, all based on fieldwork in the last fortnight. And they all deliver a similar message: New Zealand First is back, apparently at least in part at the expense of Act. And National will need both to govern.

The average above would give National 47 seats in parliament, with the support of both Act (11 seats) and NZ First (eight) required to govern. Labour would have 34 seats, the Greens 16 and TPM (assuming at least one electorate won) would have four.

Act the biggest loser in new poll, but National could still safely govern

All the party leaders. (Image: Archi Banal)

A new poll from Curia for the Taxpayers’ Union has National once again in a position to form a government – but only with the supporting of a strengthening New Zealand First.

National’s up 0.9% to 35.9%, while Labour is also up 1.4% to 27.9% – hardly a surge but some (very) small comfort for Covid-free Chris Hipkins.

Act’s slumped by over five points and is back into single digits on 9.1%. The Greens have also dropped 2.1% down to 10.6%, while New Zealand First is up three points to 6.9%. That would mean nine New Zealand First MPs in parliament.

Te Pāti Māori’s up to 3.7% which would see it bring five MPs along if it retains at least one seat.

Translated to seats in parliament, National would hold 46, which combined with Act’s 12 and New Zealand First’s nine would comfortably push it above the required 61.

Labour would have 35 seats, which even with 13 from the Greens and five from Te Pāti Māori wouldn’t be enough to enter government.

Meanwhile, both major party leaders have risen in the preferred prime minister stakes – but Christopher Luxon still has the edge. He’s up four points to 29%, with Hipkins up two points to 27%.

What are the issues that people care most about? (Image: Archi Banal)

NZ First drops manifesto with just over a week until election day

Winston Peters may change what policies are in or out (Image: Gabi Lardies)

New Zealand First quietly released its election year manifesto last night, moments before leader Winston Peters appeared live on TV for the second multi-party debate.

The party’s promise to remove GST from all “basic foods” has been ditched in favour of a Select Committee Inquiry into its feasibility. During last night’s debate, Peters was questioned on the original policy but diverted and told host Jack Tame to read the manifesto (which had only just been uploaded).

What was initially pledge number one on the party’s website – not to form a coalition with Labour – has also been removed. However, in a separate post on the NZ First website, that promise remains very clear. “New Zealand First will not return Labour to power whether in coalition or confidence and supply,” reads a “commitment” to prospective voters.

Other promises in the manifesto include a tax free threshold by April 2027 and an adjustment of the existing tax brackets in line with inflation, similar to what has been proposed by National.

The party’s bathroom policy remains, which would legislatively require all public sector organisations to provide single sex and unisex toilets. There’s also another promise to “remove public funding from [sporting] bodies that allow non-biological women to be selected unequally against biological women” and to “end all vaccine mandates”. While vaccine mandates linked to Covid-19 have very much ended, the party said that they were “still operating in some organisations and medical facilities”.

As part of the “fight against separatism”, New Zealand First would withdraw from the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and “legislate to make English the primary official language of New Zealand”. The manifesto also notes that “New Zealand means New Zealand and not Aotearoa New Zealand”. During last night’s debate, Peters snapped at host Jack Tame for referring to Aotearoa.

The party would also “defund any public participation in the World Economic Forum and related bodies” and “require a national interest test to stop us being dictated to by the United Nations and agencies like the WHO”.

Air New Zealand Covid credits extended

(Photo: Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

Covid-19 credits from Air New Zealand which had been due to expire on at the end of January 2024 have been extended by two years to January 2026. They can be used to book travel for completion by the end of 2026.

In a statement, chief financial officer Richard Thomson said the extension was in recognition of the volume of outstanding Covid credits and feedback from customers. “So far close to 85% of our customers who had a Covid credit have used them to book flights, but there is still over $200 million remaining. Given that amount, we believe this extension is the right thing to do to give customers more time,” he said.

“Air New Zealand Covid credits were issued for customers who purchased non-refundable fares for flights that could not be flown due to the pandemic. All customers who purchased refundable fares for flights impacted by Covid and have contacted us for a refund have had this processed.”

The extension applies to Covid related credits issued prior to October 2022.

In recent weeks Qantas has removed expiry dates on more than half a billion Australian dollars in Covid-19 credits and invited those with credits to request cash refunds, following the launch of legal action by the competition regulator.

The day ahead

There are just eight days to go until polls close. Here’s a look at where the leaders are this Friday.

  • Labour leader Chris Hipkins has wandered out of his hotel room in Auckland today and is immediately fleeing the city. He’ll spend the day in Wellington, fresh from isolation. First up he’s sign waving with volunteers in Rongotai, then will head to Porirua for a walkabout. Later he’ll be in his own electorate of Remutaka for a visit to Brewtown.
  • In Taranaki, National leader Christopher Luxon is visiting a retirement village this morning (where he had to compete with the All Blacks for attention). Later, he’ll make an announcement and front the media and wrap the day with a walkabout and a business visit.
  • It’s a busy day in Auckland for both Green Party co-leaders. Marama Davidson has voted this morning alongside Green candidate Darleen Tana. Next, she’s heading to Glen Innes for a business visit. Both Davidson and James Shaw will then visit a bike hub and join Auckland Central MP Chlöe Swarbrick for early voting at Auckland University. Later, they’ll attend a renters rally and Davidson will cap the day in Papatoetoe.
  • We’re expecting a policy announcement from Act Party leader David Seymour today. I’m not too sure where he’ll be at this stage.

The Bulletin: Pharmac apologises for snarky emails about Smalley

Pharmac CEO Sarah Fitt has apologised over internal emails she and her staff exchanged about journalist Rachel Smalley, an outspoken critic of the drug-funding agency. The emails, released to Smalley under the OIA and reported on by both Smalley herself (paywalled) and Media Insider Shayne Currie this morning, were “unacceptable and unprofessional” according to Pharmac chair Steve Maharey, who says Fitt has “expressed regret” for the language used in the emails.

Among the exchanges is one from a senior communications contractor who wrote that she “made Rachel Smalley cry… if that isn’t a win, I don’t know what is” and another calling Smalley’s interview with a patient advocate “utterly nauseating”. Public Services Commissioner Peter Hughes says “The comments are completely unacceptable for public servants. The media play a critical role in a healthy and functioning democracy.”

Want to read The Bulletin in full? Click here to subscribe and join over 38,000 New Zealanders who start each weekday with the biggest stories in politics, business, media and culture. 

‘Chipper’ Chippy out of isolation, back on the campaign trail

Chris Hipkins at the Labour Party campaign launch, Aotea Centre, Auckland. Photo: Fiona Goodall/Getty

Labour leader Chris Hipkins has left the Auckland hotel where he’s been in Covid isolation, telling reporters he’s feeling a lot better. “It knocked me around in the first few days,” the former Covid minister said of his illness. “I’m feeling really good.”

It’s been just over five days since Hipkins entered isolation. While no longer a legal requirement, Hipkins opted to avoid public contact will infectious.

“Covid-19 disrupted everything over the last three years so I think there is a certain irony in it disrupting the last week of the election campaign as well,” he said today.

Asked whether there were undecided voters left to campaign for, Hipkins said there was. And, he said, “the last few days of the campaign really matter”. He cited polling before the 2020 election which he said showed a 10 point difference with the actual result.

Hipkins promised a “vigorous” return to the campaign trail and asked if he was feeling “chipper”, said: “I’m always chipper even when I’m not.”


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Chris Hipkins (@chrishipkinsmp)