While the party vote is what determines who’ll be running the country, any election watcher worth their salt knows it’s the electorates that often provide the tightest races, biggest upsets and best grab-the-popcorn moments as the results roll in on election night.
This year is no exception, with a number of nail-biters on the cards. Here are some of the seats we’ll be keeping a particularly close eye on:
Auckland Central: It provided one of the biggest upsets of 2020, and polling suggests Auckland Central is likely to be just as spicy tonight – Green incumbent Chlöe Swarbrick is ahead of National’s candidate Mahesh Muralidhar by “a statistically insignificant whisker”, as Toby Manhire put it.
Tāmaki: It’s a similar story here, with Act’s Brooke van Velden nipping at the heels of National incumbent Simon O’Connor.
Te Tai Hauāuru: A poll put Labour’s Soraya Peke-Mason just ahead of Te Pāti Māori co-leader Debbie Ngarewa-Packer, but it’s bound to be a close one.
Ikaroa-Rāwhiti: Meka Whaitiri is the incumbent, but she’s switched allegiances from Labour to Te Pāti Māori. Polling puts Labour newcomer Cushla Tangaere-Manuel ahead, but anything could happen.
Whanganui: Steph Lewis has a battle on her hands to keep Whanganui for Labour, with Carl Bates aiming to nab it for National.
Wairarapa: Kieran McAnulty flipped the seat for Labour in 2020, but there’s no red wave this time around. If National’s Mike Butterick does take Wairarapa, there’s a fair chance McAnulty won’t make it back into parliament at all.
Hutt South: Labour’s Ginny Andersen wrestled Hutt South off National’s Chris Bishop in 2020, and Bishop has a decent shot of taking the seat back tonight. Like McAnulty, should she lose the electorate, Andersen could be out of parliament.
Rongotai: Julie Anne Genter has spiced things up in the traditional Labour stronghold – can she give the Greens their third-ever electorate win?
Wellington Central: Another seat the Greens are gunning for, and polling suggests Tamatha Paul and her competitors Ibrahim Omer (Labour) and Scott Sheeran (National) are neck and neck.
Ōhāriu: National’s popular deputy leader Nicola Willis is bound to give Labour incumbent Greg O’Connor a run for his money.
Nelson: In 2020, Labour’s Rachel Boyack ousted Nick Smith after eight terms. This year, National newbie Blair Cameron could well flip Nelson back to blue.
West Coast Tasman: Damien O’Connor has held the seat for Labour for years, but National’s Maureen Pugh is thought to have a decent chance of defeating him.
To delve deeper into the interesting electorate battles, check out our Hot Seats series
Click here for Toby Manhire’s predictions of who’s in and who’s out, based on the latest polls