Jan 30 2023

Labour surges to the top in latest polls – but there’s a catch

PM Chris Hipkins fronts a press conference (Photo by MARTY MELVILLE/AFP via Getty Images)

Labour’s new leader Chris Hipkins has brought along a significant poll bump, with Labour now ahead in both the 1News Kantar Public and Newshub Reid Research polls. Both major television networks have released the first polls of Hipkins’ premiership tonight.

But while both polls now have Labour ahead, both also predict a hung parliament.

The 1News poll had Labour ahead on 38% – up five points and the party’s best result in the poll since January last year. Newshub, too, has Labour sitting on 38%, up 5.7 points. National sits at 37% in the TVNZ poll and at 36.6% for Newshub.

Act sits at around the 10 point mark in both polls, with the Greens sitting between 7% and 8% in each poll.

Despite Labour’s jump, neither poll showed enough for Labour to cling onto power – but National wouldn’t be able to either. Assuming Te Pāti Māori goes with Labour and the Greens, both the left and right blocs would end up with 60 seats each, one short of the necessary 61 to govern.

In the preferred prime minister stakes, Hipkins has shot into first place – above National’s Christopher Luxon. The TVNZ poll has Hipkins on 23% to Luxon’s 22%, while Newshub has Hipkins on 19.6% to Luxon’s 18.8%. Former prime minister Jacinda Ardern registered for both network’s poll as well.

Luxon told both 1News and Newshub that he wasn’t surprised by the surging result for Hipkins as new leaders often get a sizeable bump in the polls.

Double poll day: TVNZ and Newshub to deliver first look at Hipkins’ popularity

New PM Chris Hipkins has his work cut out for him in 2023 (Image: Archi Banal / Getty Images)

It’s a big evening for political tragics, with both the major television networks set to reveal a first glance at the popularity of new prime minister Chris Hipkins.

TVNZ and Newshub have announced they will both be airing the poll results at 6pm tonight. It’ll show whether or not there has been a bump in popularity for the Labour Party after the shock departure of Jacinda Ardern. Labour has been dragging behind in the polls for some time now, and it’s possible the change in leadership will reverse that trend – or speed it up.

The polling will take into account the Auckland floods and Hipkins’ response to what was his first major event as prime minister.

We’ll be tuning in at 6pm and will bring you those results soon after.

Auckland schools ordered to remain closed until February 7

An Auckland road closed after severe flooding (Photo by Fiona Goodall/Getty Images)

Schools in Auckland won’t be opening as planned after the events of the weekend, the education ministry has confirmed. They will remain closed until after the Waitangi long weekend.

“With the possibility of further weather damage leading to more disruption, the secretary for education has directed that schools, kura, early learning services and Tertiary institutions in the Auckland region (Wellsford to Pukekohe) must close for physical attendance and instruction until 7 February,” a statement announced.

It follows a press conference by mayor Wayne Brown this afternoon where he urged that schools not open their doors for students tomorrow.

Schools were advised to remain shut so as to ensure Auckland roads were not overcrowded while “vital infrastructure” was urgently repaired.

“School and kura can open or remain open for onsite instruction but need to provide distance learning,” said Iona Holsted, the secretary for education. “Early learning services may allow the physical attendance of any child whose parent needs them to do so, in the same we did for Covid, but must otherwise be closed.”

Wendy Kofoed from the Auckland Primary Principals’ Association told Stuff that around 20 schools in Auckland had suffered serious damage. ”They have had slips on their property, and they have major work to do to keep their schools healthy and safe for kids,” she said.

An Auckland road closed after severe flooding (Photo by Fiona Goodall/Getty Images)

Defiant Brown says lessons to be learned – but ‘I’m not going to resign’

Wayne Brown inspects flood damage in Auckland (Photo: Lynn Grieveson/Getty Images)

Aucklanders are being warned to prepare for more heavy rain as the city continues to feel the fallout from Friday’s devastating floods.

Mayor Wayne Brown has given a media conference this afternoon where he suggested schools should remain closed tomorrow, and also said Aucklanders could take their storm waste to a transfer station for free. Stuff has reported that Ministry of Education has ordered on-site school closures until February 7.

“Stay home, stay safe, and stay away from areas which might slip. And stay away from floodwaters,” reiterated Brown.

The mayor gave details of the level of damage Auckland has faced, saying 400 households needed assistance – with 40 properties red stickered – and 500 Aucklanders needed accommodation assistance. Last night saw 60 people in emergency accommodation.

Wayne Brown inspects flood damage in Auckland (Photo by Lynn Grieveson/Getty Images)

On the criticism levelled at his office’s communication on Friday night, Brown acknowledged there had been issues and took some responsibility. “I want to say to Aucklanders that yes there have been hiccups of course,” he said. “We want recommendations for improvement and we will act on them.”

However, despite calls, he would not be resigning. “I’m certainly not going to resign. I was elected to fix Auckland and this is a giant fix-up,” the mayor said. “I don’t think I personally did any wrong, I actually followed the instructions closely.” The independent review would look at what lessons could be learned from the weekend. “The inquiry will look into all aspects, all people, myself included, plus the professionals, plus even the government’s involvement in the response.”

While the anticipated downpour tonight would not be as bad as Friday, Brown warned that it could be more dangerous. “As the prime minister has said, this is climate change, and I agree with him,” Brown said. During his first round of media interviews over the weekend, Brown would not comment on whether climate change was to blame for the heavier than predicted rain.

More details of a “big Auckland clean-up” would be announced early tomorrow, said Brown, who said he had asked the defence minister to prepare the army to help out.