Photos: Getty Images
Photos: Getty Images

PoliticsOctober 17, 2020

NZ election night 2020, live updates: All the results, reactions, and analysis

Photos: Getty Images
Photos: Getty Images

All the news, pictures and commentary as the results roll in. Spot anything newsworthy? You can reach us at

12.30am: The night in sum

Our political editor was at Labour’s event tonight, but keeping tabs on all the numbers and reactions. Read his summary of the big night here. Thanks for your company!

12.09am: Swarbrick takes Auckland Central

One hundred percent of votes have now been counted in Auckland Central, and Greens candidate Chlöe Swarbrick has won it by 492 votes – going against polls that had Labour’s Helen White in the lead. Barring a late surge for White via the special votes, Swarbrick will be the new MP for Auckland Central, which had been held by National’s Nikki Kaye, who stepped down at this election, since 2008. This battle for the seat had split the left, with neither camp backing down, but it’s paid off for the Greens, who have nabbed their first electorate seat since Jeanette Fitzsimons held Coromandel from 1999-2002. Helen White will make it into parliament on the Labour list, but with “much-diminished mana”, as one source put it.

11.48pm: Labour’s chief whip on the task ahead

Michael Wood, who has banked a majority of close to 10,000 in Mt Roskill, has the task tomorrow morning as Labour’s chief whip of calling the new intake of MPs. They’ll travel to Wellington on Monday, he told The Spinoff, ahead of the first caucus on Tuesday. “I’m looking forward to it,” he said, beer in hand at the Town Hall. He wouldn’t be drawn on whether Labour, with enough seats in the bag to govern alone, would look to bring the Greens into the tent. “Jacinda will take the lead,” he said. TM

11.30pm: Collins emerges

National leader Judith Collins has emerged from the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron and is heading home, to the relief of the media throng who have been waiting for her. She didn’t take any questions. Stewart Sowman-Lund says he was “reliably informed” Collins had enjoyed her first red wine in three months tonight.

Judith Collins leaves the National Party function (Photo: Stewart Sowman-Lund)

11.15pm: One step at a time – Luxon

National’s result was “very disappointing”, Christopher Luxon has told Newshub, but Judith Collins had done an “incredible job”. The former Air New Zealand leader, tipped as a future National leader, has won Botany, but wasn’t planning any challenge – instead he wanted to be “part of Judith Collins’ team” and “take it one step at a time”.

11.09pm: The Māori Party is on track to be back

It would appear Labour no longer has a monopoly on the seven Māori seats. The Māori Party had them seriously sweating in three electorates, but after a hard-fought battle the party is on track to secure just one – with 93.7% of the vote counted, Rāwiri Waititi looks to have snatched Waiariki from one-term MP Tāmati Coffey in a nail-biting neck-and-neck race. There’s currently a margin of 337 votes.

It’s a brutal reversal of fortune. Coffey was the underdog himself in 2017, winning the seat from Māori Party co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell and ushering the Māori Party out of parliament. Just how Waititi would fare in parliament alone remains to be seen, although the party might yet be able nab an overhang seat if they can claw back more of the party share after special votes are counted in the coming weeks. LH

11.04pm: The Greens are calling it for Swarbrick

There’s still 3% of the vote to be counted but the Greens are calling Auckland Central for Chlöe Swarbrick, and my eardrums have burst.

“It’s been a long night,” she told the screaming crowd. “We will hold our breath.”

In a short speech to wrap up the evening, Davidson and Shaw were joined by the triumphant Swarbrick. “Tomorrow morning our country gets to wake up with more possibilities for a far more fairer, progressive Aotearoa,” said Davidson. Although more votes are yet to come in, it’s time to pump the brakes on campaigning. “Take care of each other over these days,” she said. “Have some goddamn rest.” JA

Photo: Phil Walter/Getty Images
Toby Morris

10.50pm: Advance voting favoured Labour, Greens

The vast gulf between the left and right blocs is narrowing slightly, as the gap between advance votes and Election Day votes is revealed. With most of the advance vote now counted, Labour scored 50.9%, compared to 25.9% for National. The Greens were also up at 8%, with Act at 7.6%.

But in terms of the total vote share, Labour is currently slightly lower, on 49%. National has crept up to 26.9%. The Act party leads the Greens, with 8% and 7.6% respectively. New Zealand First has also seen a slight bump in their vote share as Election Day results were counted, going from 2.3% in the advance to 2.6% in total. Nearly 2 million advance votes were cast, which suggests a lot of the votes cast today went to National. AB

10.45pm: Ardern speaks to jubilant Labour supporters

Labour leader Jacinda Ardern says she has a “mandate” to accelerate her response to Covid-19 and the problems facing New Zealand. There are about 500 supporters at Auckland’s Town Hall, most standing for the Labour leader’s speech.

Ardern celebrated that the divisive polarisation impacting other democracies has not been seen in New Zealand. That lack of polarisation is what’s enabled Ardern to capture the political centre and annihilate her opponents.

“We will govern as we campaigned: positively with optimism about our future,” said Ardern. “Now more than ever is the time to keep going, to keep working, to grab hold of the opportunities that lay in front of us. Let’s step forward together. Hoake tonu tātou – let’s keep moving.”

She reached out to former National voters who may have switched allegiance in this election, saying “governing for every New Zealander has never been so important more than it has been now”.

She said more people had lost the ability to see everyone’s view, but hoped this election showed that this isn’t who we are as a country. New Zealanders can listen and debate, we’re too small to lose sight of other perspectives, she said.

Ardern acknowledged elections don’t always bring people together, but they don’t need to tear people apart.

“This has not been an ordinary election, and it’s not an ordinary time. It’s been full of uncertainty and anxiety and we set out to be an antidote for that.”  JG/DM

Photo: Phil Walter/Getty Images

10.30pm: Tamihere concedes Tāmaki Makaurau

John Tamihere has conceded Tāmaki Makaurau in an upbeat speech in Auckland. The former Labour MP and broadcaster was all smiles for the cameras. “We’re very grateful to our people who woke up and believed in us.”

The party’s hopes now rest on Rāwiri Waititi in Waiariki.

“Waiariki is in play big time. We’re the only voter cohort in the country that’s run against the red tidal wave. I just want to say to our brothers and sisters in Labour that have done well tonight, we wish you the best for the next three years in looking after our people and standing up for our people.”

Tamihere paid tribute to Mataatua, Te Arawa, Waititi and his “wonderful campaign running wife” – Tamihere’s daughter Kiri Tamihere-Waititi.

“Have a good night and god bless you for voting” he ended.

Photo: Harry Cundy

10.25pm: It’s not over yet

A fair few seats could still go either way, and could even be decided on the special votes in two weeks’ time.

Auckland Central: Green MP Chlöe Swarbrick is 400 votes ahead of Labour’s Helen White.

Hutt South: Labour’s Ginny Anderson has a 150 vote lead over incumbent Chris Bishop.

Invercargill: An open seat, with National’s Penny Simmonds 450 votes ahead of Labour list MP Liz Craig.

Maungakiekie: National’s incumbent Denise Lee is just under 400 votes ahead of Labour’s Priyanca Radhakrishnan.

Rangitīkei: This would be a monster upset, and at this stage less than half the vote has been counted. But Labour’s Soraya Peke-Mason is ahead of National incumbent Ian McKelvie.

Whangārei: At this stage, the gap between National’s Dr Shane Reti and Labour’s Emily Henderson is just a few dozen votes.

Waiariki: Rāwiri Waititi of the Māori Party holds a narrow lead of 150 over Labour MP Tāmati Coffey. / AB

Toby Morris

10.22pm: Ardern arrives at Labour party

Victorious Labour leader Jacinda Ardern has arrived at the Labour Party function at the Town Hall and is expected to take the stage soon.

Claire Szabó, the Labour Party president, has already spoken, calling tonight’s result a “landslide”. She was followed by deputy leader Kelvin Davis, the support act to Ardern at the Town Hall, who has delivered a speech in rhyme. It focused on the fight against a “blue taniwha”. TM

10.00pm: Judith Collins arrives at National function to chants of ‘Judith, Judith’

National leader Judith Collins has arrived at the National Party function in Auckland and is speaking to supporters. “Boy, did we know it was going to be tough, but you kept the faith,” she said. “Thanks to everyone who voted National. We value your support.”

On the verge of tears, Collins thanked National’s volunteers, her family, and paid tribute to outgoing MPs who have lost their spot in parliament. She said she’ll make supporters proud over the next three years.

Acknowledging the welcome she received tonight, Collins said “anyone would have thought we’d won”.

During a quiet moment, a lone “talofa” was yelled from the crowd by an intoxicated-seeming young Pākehā woman.

Collins congratulated Jacinda Ardern on her win, and said she phoned her before coming down to the party. She concluded her speech with a simple message: “we will be back”.

“Tonight is the start of the next campaign. Bring on 2023.

“We will take time to review… National will emerge from this loss… a stronger and more connected party,” she said. At the moment Collins said the party will take time to look inward, someone in the room shouted “good”.  

Collins exited the stage to chants of “Judith” and promptly left the building. Media were not permitted to follow. A video montage of campaign highlights played above supporters. “Jesus Christ,” said one. The Spinoff spoke to another supporter who described tonight’s event as a “fucking funeral”. “You’ve got people in seats that have lost their 2,000-seat majority… we’re fucked.”

‘Three years will be gone in the blink of an eye,” Collins predicted, arching one of her own eyebrows. “We’ll be back. Tonight is the start of the next campaign.”

But will it be her leading it? Judging by the chants, perhaps.


Photo: Stewart Sowman-Lund

9.55pm: The Greens are partying

In their speech to the very energetic crowd, it was clear that Greens co-leaders James Shaw and Marama Davidson see the result as pretty much settled. “I want to congratulate Jacinda Ardern and her team for an extraordinary win. We have worked productively with Labour this term to get outcomes for our community, and we are really excited to talk about how we progress that this next term,” said Davidson.

“My utmost congratulations to my tungāne Peeni Henare in the Labour Party, who looks like he is ahead enough to be winning and retaining his electorate seat. I have enjoyed working with Peeni Henare and will continue to work with him to represent and get the very best for Tāmaki Makaurau.

“I also want to acknowledge John Tamihere, who did an outstanding job in the way that only John Tamihere can, bringing an unapologetic kaupapa Māori politics back to Tāmaki Makaurau.”

Shaw thanked all 7,000 of the volunteers for the long hours they’d put in. “We have made history. You have made history. Chlöe, how’re you doing?” The crowd erupted into a chant of “Chlöe! Chlöe! Chlöe!” She did a little dance.

Chlöe Swarbrick does a little dance (Photo: Sherry Zhang)

“We are the first support party in the history of MMP to have started and finished a term in government above the 5% threshold,” said Shaw.

The crowd is mingling and drinking once again. The mood is bloody marvellous.

Photo: Sherry Zhang

9.50pm: Judith Collins is in the building

Or that’s the rumour, anyway.

Meanwhile, a family friend of National’s losing Upper Harbour candidate Jake Bezzant was surprised by the result but says Jake will be back. “I know he really cares about the area and this isn’t the last we’ve seen of him.”

With 76.6% of the result counting, Bezzant is trailing to Labour’s Vanusha Walters by 1,500 votes.

Bezzant replaced Paula Bennett as candidate for the seat and is 57 on National’s list, so is now unlikely to be going parliament, after being highly touted when first selected for the seat. JL

Meanwhile, Melissa Lee is joking about the Greens’ wealth tax – which Labour has repeatedly ruled out – with journalists at the event. “Wealth tax, hello. Do you own a house?”

9.49pm: Labour victory called in Ikaroa-Rāwhiti

Meka Whaitiri’s camp have called a victory for Labour in Ikaroa-Rāwhiti. Whaitiri credited her whanaunga, the Greens’ Elizabeth Kerekere, who stood against her, and the leadership of prime minister Jacinda Ardern. At number nine on the Greens’ list, Kerekere will likely be heading to parliament anyway. The seat was the only electorate in the country contested only by women. LH

9.44pm: Absolute scenes at the Labour party

It’s getting crowded, noisy and bibulous at the Town Hall as they await the arrival of their leader. One party member just shouted at her friend, six times, “Gerry Brownlee is losing!”

A Young Labour member just pounced on me to announce that Helen White had surged into a lead of 400 over Chloe Swarbrick in Auckland Central, explaining at length that it would be because the Waiheke booths had come in.

Swarbrick is leading by 491 votes with 80% counted. TM

Claire Szabó (Photo: Toby Manhire)

Labour president Claire Szabó just told media that the party looks like it’s winning electorates it hasn’t won in generations. This is as good as the party expected it could get. With the possibility that it could pick up 20 seats, the new faces in an enlarged caucus are the “seeds of Labour’s future”, she said.

Talks of a coalition with the Greens are best left for tomorrow and the days that follow, but Szabó said that “Labour members like Labour governments”. JG

9.39pm: What’s happening in the minor leagues? 

We’ve had a lot about what’s happening for the parties that will still be in parliament, so what about the rest?

The Māori Party still has a chance to bag a seat, if Rāwiri Waititi can get up in Waiariki, or John Tamihere and Debbie Ngarewa-Packer can close their larger gaps in Tāmaki Makaurau and Te Tai Hauāuru respectively.

Neither The Opportunities Party nor the New Conservatives will be in the next parliament. Currently they’re both on 1.4%. Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis and the ONE Party are both looking like being the Best of the Rest, with 0.3% respectively. Every party below them is sitting on 0.1%.

An honourable mention has to go to Heartland Party leader Mark Ball – he’s coming a very creditable 3rd in Port Waikato. On the current count, Ball has 5,500 votes compared to National’s Andrew Bayly, who has just under 10,000.

And what about Billy Te Kahika and Advance NZ? The party is sitting at 0.8, meaning they’re nowhere near winning seats. And Te Kahika himself has pulled in just under 5% of the vote in Te Tai Tokerau, a seat that the party once held out hopes of winning. AB


9.35pm: ‘Devastating outcome’ – Goldsmith

Justin Latif has spoken to National’s Paul Goldsmith at the party’s function in Auckland:

“Overall it’s a pretty devastating outcome,” he said. “But we just need to regroup, and rebuild, and we need a clear outline and some caucus unity. Judith did an excellent job in the circumstances.”

Goldsmith chuckled when asked if David Seymour’s cup of tea deal in Epsom needs to come to an end, but would only say, “David has run an excellent campaign.”

National Party MP Paul GoldSmith reflects on his party result (Photo: Greg Bowker/Getty Images)

9.32pm: It’s all over for New Zealand First

New Zealand First has been voted out of parliament. In a very short and surprisingly upbeat speech at the party’s function at the Duke of Marlborough in Russell, Winston Peters thanked his staff and volunteers, congratulated those who have been re-elected and congratulated himself for predicting an economic crisis back in 2017 “and now it’s here”. The purpose of New Zealand First is “to question the establishment”, Peters said, and ‘That force is still needed.” But any more than that, “We’ll all have to wait and see”.

Peters is 75 years old. He was first elected to Parliament in 1978, two years before Jacinda Ardern was born.

9.31pm: Waiariki neck and neck

Huge cheers here in Te Atatū as the Waiariki results so far are revealed on Māori Television’s live coverage. With 51% of the vote counted, only 24 votes separate the Māori Party’s Rāwiri Waititi and Labour incumbent Tāmati Coffey.

Spontaneous breakdancing has broken out in response. I’m predicting we won’t get a speech from the Māori Party’s co-leaders until the results of that electorate are final. LH

Breakdancing in Te Atatū (Photo: Leonie Hayden)

9.24pm: Winston Peters is in the building

NZ First leader Winston Peters has arrived at his party’s function at the Duke of Marlborough Hotel in Russell.

9.16pm: National MP spotted

Down at the National function, Paul Goldsmith has been spotted. Still no sign of many others.

Photo: Stewart Sowman-Lund

It’s certainly a more chatty mood now, thanks in part to the vast quantities of Mumm champagne on tables. Nobody stopped slurping their overpriced bubbles to watch Gerry Brownlee give a depressing interview on TVNZ – he’s set to lose his seat, but remain in parliament on the list.

Earlier, someone applauded and cheered at the same time Marama Davidson and James Shaw of the Greens appeared on screen to celebrate their party’s success. I haven’t confirmed if a lost Green candidate slipped in tonight, but it was nice to hear someone celebrating from within the sombre crowd.

The Taxpayers’ Union’s Jordan Williams is also there, but wasn’t keen on talking to The Spinoff’s Justin Latif. “I’ll need a few more beers before I’ll talk to The Spinoff.”

He did manage to talk to Auckland councillor National Party member Angela Dalton, who said that this election showed Kiwis weren’t interested in bully-style politics given Jacinda Ardern continually took the high road. But she also mentioned that Judith Collins had been working incredibly hard and deserved the benefit of the doubt given all the challenges this campaign has posed. SSL/JL

9.14pm Huge night for Greens as progressive newbies parliament-bound 

Josie Adams reports from the Greens function:

Shaw and Davidson arrived and jogged up the stairs to the platform. They’re stoked for Labour and proud of themselves. “The results show how much new Zealanders want a truly progressive government,” said Davidson. The crowd, as progressive as they come, filled the room with cheers. Whooping and hollering abounded for a full minute. “Thank you, I love you.”

And Alex Braae looks at the nitty-gritty of who’s in:

Some of the Greens further down the list are widely considered to be more left wing than others at the top – particularly co-leader James Shaw. On present results, the party will get 10 seats in the next parliament. That could still fluctuate, especially after the special votes are counted in two weeks. Right now, the existing caucus will be bolstered by Palmerston North community activist Teanau Tuiono at #8 on the list, scholar and LGBTQ+ activist Dr Elizabeth Kerekere at #9, anti-poverty campaigner Ricardo Menéndez March at #10, and possibly staunch environmental activist Steve Abel at #11.

9.10pm: Māori seats update – ka kite, Billy TK

With 30% of the vote counted, Nanaia Mahuta can have a cup of tea and take a load off. Streaking ahead, it’s safe to say she’ll be enjoying another term in Hauraki-Waikato. Meka Whaitiri has the Ikaroa-Rāwhiti electorate wrapped up too, but it was an impressive challenge from Māori Party newcomer Heather Te Au-Skipworth.

At the other end, Advance NZ’s beleaguered co-leader Billy Te Kahika is yet to hit four digits in his bid for Te Tai Tokerau. Labour’s Kelvin Davis will be settling in for another three years there. On Friday, the Advance NZ Facebook page was taken down for breaching Facebook’s code of conduct around misinformation. LH

9.09pm: Bridges – “it’s really grim”

Simon Bridges, the former National Party leader who was deposed in a coup after National’s poll ratings slumped to 29% in May, said that National’s campaign had lost its message towards the end of the campaign, and that the party had days of soul-searching ahead of it in the wake of its devastating loss.

It’s grim,” he said in an interview with One News from his electorate function in Tauranga, a seat he’s easily holding. “I can’t think of a worse night so far on the numbers. It’s really grim.”

9.04pm: Who in National won’t get back in at all?

Alex Braae has crunched the numbers – here’s how it’s looking for National at this stage, with 40.7% of the vote counted.

With this sort of defeat, a lot of MPs have to start updating their CVs very quickly – even those that might previously have looked pretty safe. Currently (and many of these counts are still relatively early) National is holding only around 20 electorate seats, down from 41 in 2017. That could change, but either way, the party as a whole is looking like getting at most 36-37 MPs all up.

That means calculations will frantically be being made by MPs about whether there will still be a list spot for them or not. The more electorates the party wins, the fewer spots on the list will be available. A few big assumptions are coming here, but on current results, this is about how it could go:

1 Judith Collins – Papakura SEAT WIN

2 Gerry Brownlee – Ilam LIST #1

3 Paul Goldsmith – Epsom LIST #2

4 Simon Bridges – Tauranga SEAT

5 Dr Shane Reti – Whangārei LIST #3

6 Todd McClay – Rotorua SEAT

7 Chris Bishop – Hutt South LIST #4

8 Todd Muller – Bay of Plenty SEAT

9 Louise Upston – Taupō SEAT

10 Scott Simpson – Coromandel SEAT

11 David Bennett – Hamilton East LIST #5

12 Michael Woodhouse – Dunedin LIST #6

13 Nicola Willis – Wellington Central LIST #7

14 Jacqui Dean – Waitaki SEAT 15

Mark Mitchell – Whangaparāoa SEAT 16

Melissa Lee – Mt Albert LIST #8

17 Andrew Bayly – Port Waikato SEAT

18 Dr Nick Smith – Nelson LIST #9

19 Maureen Pugh – West Coast-Tasman LIST #10

20 Barbara Kuriger – Taranaki-King Country SEAT

21 Harete Hipango – Whanganui LIST #11

22 Jonathan Young – New Plymouth LIST #12

23 Tim Macindoe – Hamilton West LIST #13

Then below them: a whole lot of MPs who aren’t likely to win a seat, in order of where they’re placed on the list.

24 Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi – Panmure-Otahuhu

25 Paulo Garcia – list only

26 Nancy Lu – list only

27 Parmjeet Parmar – Mt Roskill

28 Agnes Loheni – Māngere

29 Dale Stephens – Christchurch Central

30 Alfred Ngaro – Te Atatū

From 30 onwards, the MPs are in safer seats which they should hold. A reminder – these are preliminary results, and we don’t necessarily know if it will play out like this. But if National’s caucus ends up looking anything like this then it’ll be a dramatically less diverse party than 2017, and one in which a lot of young talent has been sacrificed.

9.00pm: Mood remains subdued at the National event

It’s almost two hours since the event here kicked off and the room is, at best, three quarters full. The room can hold about 400, and at a rough estimate there’s 200-300.

I’ve still only spotted one MP – Melissa Lee – and fellow Spinoff reporter Justin Latif says calls have gone unanswered to several MPs.

In food news, samosas and spring rolls are now being sent around the venue, so possibly I was too quick to judge the lack of a lush spread.

The Twitter accounts of the National Party and Judith Collins have gone “protected” and can no longer be seen by non-followers. Judith Collins appears to have deleted her Instagram as well as locking her Twitter account.

Collins is expected to address those assembled here shortly, but we’ve been told she won’t be speaking to media after her speech. SSL

8.58pm: Green co-leaders arrive at party

Green co-leaders Marama Davidson and James Shaw have arrived at their party function at GridAKL in Wynyard Quarter to rapturous applause.

“We’re absolutely stoked, it’s a really good result for us tonight,” Shaw told One News on their arrival.

Davidson is now speaking to the crowd. “We did it!” she said, to whoops from supporters.

8.47pm: Disbelief at Labour HQ

Spinoff editor Toby Manhire has joined political editor Justin Giovannetti at the Labour function

I’m down at the Auckland Town Hall where Jacinda Ardern is expected to soon arrive. A lot of people are staring slack jawed and happy at the screens.

David Parker, the senior Labour MP and a member of Ardern’s inner circle, said he’d never seen anything quite like it, mock pinching himself as he watched the results flick over on the big screen. Parker “sneaked in” to parliament for the first time the last election that saw National’s support collapse, 2002.

Among the Labour faithful at the Town Hall are Selwyn and Latu from the Māngere campaign team. They reckon Labour will end on 48% or 49%, and will probably end up in coalition with the Greens. Would they prefer Labour win enough seats to govern alone? “Oh yeah, absolutely,” said Selwyn. TM

Adds Justin Giovannetti:

With only 30% of the vote counted, there’s a nervous energy at the Town Hall. Supporters still fear that things could change and what could be a historic win for the party under MMP turns into just a dominant coalition. Once the rural ballot boxes are counted, a dam holding back an emotional tidal wave will break here if Labour is still so far ahead.

8.38pm: Brownlee defends campaign amid crushing defeat

National’s campaign manager Gerry Brownlee has defended the strength of the campaign, with a crushing defeat looming. He was put through the wringer by Duncan Garner and Tova O’Brien on Newshub, with suggestions that the campaign had totally failed to fire, and had run out of money late in the piece.

“It’s simply not true, we weren’t short of money. Your assessment of the campaign probably looked different to ours.”

He was also asked if he was frustrated by the leaks and elements of disloyalty that seemed to crop up late in the piece. “All I can say is that Judith did a great job, and caucus will analyse all the pitfalls and missteps in due course.”

Brownlee himself is under serious pressure to hold his previously safe seat of Ilam. With 32% of the vote counted, he trails Labour’s Sarah Pallett by about 2400 votes. AB

8.35pm: Melissa Lee upbeat at National HQ

Here at the National event, I’ve spoken to the party’s Mount Albert candidate Melissa Lee, one of the first MPs to have arrived. She told me that – despite being at the event for about 20 minutes – she still hadn’t seen the election results rolling in. “I’ve been too busy talking to people,” she said.

After being told that the party was sitting at about 25% of the party vote with 20% counted, Lee said: “Only 20% – come on! As I keep telling people, it ain’t over until the last vote has been counted. So it’s too early to tell.”

Lee accompanied Judith Collins and Auckland Central candidate Emma Mellow on the disastrous Ponsonby Road walkabout earlier in the month, a moment many have observed was a turning point in the National campaign. Lee disagreed: “I really enjoyed the walk with Judith… I haven’t seen much of Judith during the campaign.

“[Collins] was in very good spirits, unfortunately there weren’t as many people on Ponsonby Road.”

Asked about the planted National supporters, Lee accused the media of trickery. “I’m not so sure they were all planted… If the media want to make it look like they were planted I guess it is true according to you, but not to me.”

The mood in the room remains rather low, but Lee said it’s a good opportunity for supporters to greet one another and exchange stories from the campaign. She couldn’t get me a free drink, though: “Personal responsibility, we support that,” she said. SSL

8.30pm: Swarbrick hopeful of her chances in Auckland Central

Auckland Central is as hot and bothered as ever, with Chlöe Swarbrick just over 400 votes ahead of Labour’s Helen White and around 35% of the vote counted.

“It’s a very tight race,” Swarbrick said, succinctly. When asked if she was letting herself feel any hope at all, she grinned. “I am an earnest, optimistic idealist; I don’t think I’d be able to be in politics if I didn’t believe the impossible could happen.” JA

Chlöe Swarbrick at the Greens function (Photo: Sherry Zhang)

8.25pm: Māori seats update – plus a kai update

Debbie Ngarewa-Packer is on the tail of Te Tai Hauāuru encumbant Adrian Rurawhe, and as predicted, Tāmaki Makaurau’s three horse race is neck and neck, Labour’s Peeni Henare ahead by only a couple hundred.

More importantly, since arriving at the Māori Party event, I’ve eaten oysters, raw fish, kina, rēwana, pāua and prawns. The manaaki is strong in this party. LH

8.15pm: Food update

It’s not *just* macarons at National (Photo: Stewart Sowman-Lund)



8.12pm: National president speaks

National Party president Peter Goodfellow has acknowledged that National would need something extraordinary to win from here. Speaking to TVNZ, he said that he hoped the current numbers would “narrow up a bit” and that “it wouldn’t be good to be in the 20s, that’s for sure”. He said that votes still to be counted may help National. “National Party voters usually vote on the day,” he said. Judith Collins, he added, had “done a fantastic job”.

8.05pm: Update from National – Stewart finds some food

An incredibly important development here at National HQ: I found some food! No developments on the drinks front here, but I’ll keep you posted. It seems to be very much a coffee and tea affair tonight, which goes against all my morals about caffeine in the evening.

Now, back to the politics. National’s Mount Albert candidate Melissa Lee has arrived, and agreed to give an interview with RNZ. A National party media person initially said “it’s too early” and Lee claimed she hadn’t “seen any results yet”.

The mood in the room remains subdued, perhaps due to the incredible lack of alcohol. We’re expecting Judith Collins to address party faithful a little later in the evening. In the meantime, I’ll keep eating my free sushi. SSL

Photos: Stewart Sowman-Lund

8.03pm: National facing electorate wipeout – the big swings

These results may not hold of course, but at the moment National is on course to see a collapse in the number of electorates they hold.

Right now in Hamilton, both seats have turned red. Labour’s Liz Craig is winning in Invercargill. Nelson is long gone for Nick Smith. Jo Luxton is on track to pick up Rangitata. Tukituki and Whanganui are both looking vulnerable.

Labour’s Angela Roberts has an extremely narrow lead over National’s Barbara Kuriger in the deeply rural Taranaki-King Country.

And most mysteriously of all, no less a figure than deputy leader Gerry Brownlee is currently losing in Ilam, one of the party’s strongholds. As said, these results are still early, but some real upsets could be on the cards. AB

7.57pm: ‘A dark day for NZ’, but a good day for Seymour

David Seymour arrived by speedboat, to a rapturous response, talking up his volunteers, leaning hard on freedom of speech and bodily autonomy before declaring the overall result a dark day for NZ. He then declared this his “2023 campaign launch”, which absolutely brought the Headquarters down. DG

7.55pm: Party time in Te Atatū

As the sun starts to set, the celebration in Te Atatū is starting to turn into a party and you’d be forgiven for thinking you were at a wedding or a 21st. Singer Annie Crummer is playing her hits, and Māori Party co-leader John Tamihere isn’t glued to any results, rather mixing with guests and whānau. He told The Spinoff he’s not nervous, for himself or any of the first time candidates.

“This ain’t my first race. I’m the koroua of my crew, I’ve fought a lot of fights. Win or lose we’ve changed the dial on how we think about ourselves, and how we’re going to rise up.”

He says he’s proud of his team. “Here’s the beauty of our Paati Māori – every one of them have committed to stay the course. There’s no one-hit-wonders. This party’s not born out of Ihumātao, or foreshore and seabed. It’s born out of a relentless belief in ourselves.”

There are three seats that could yet swing the party’s way, but Tamihere says the worse case scenario won’t prove a deterrent for the party. 2023 is in their sights, and beyond. “All of our policy progress is intergenerational. So the pou we’ve put in the ground, as all Māori must, we’ll work relentlessly toward it, whether it’s our own parliament, our own health authority. The only thing that works for Māori is self-management, self-design and self-determination.” LH

Howie Junior in full voice (Photo: Leonie Hayden)

7.50pm: The rumours are true – David Seymour has arrived at his party by boat

He’s currently making what sounds like a very pleased speech at Headquarters. Act is on 7.7%, with 16% of the vote counted, which would give Seymour nine mates in parliament.

Photo: Duncan Greive

7.47pm: An update from the National party – it’s… not gonna get lit

Let’s focus a bit more on the most important part of tonight’s proceedings: the food. I haven’t eaten dinner so this is perhaps of more importance to me, but bear with.

There’s none. Well, there’s a cash bar. But that’s it. A cash bar!

As for the politics, there’s now several huddled groups of supporters – young and old – dispersed around the tiny venue. It’s still 70/30 media to Nationalites, and I’m yet to lock eyes on an MP or candidate.

Judith Collins’ main media woman Janet Wilson is in the room, however, and could be heard saying: “tomorrow’s my last day… I’m on a short term contract”. SSL

7.45pm: An update from the Labour party – it’s gonna get lit

With only the first few percent of the vote in, Labour’s supporters are cheering in the bar when they’re shown to be ahead in an electorate. The beer and wine is flowing at the start of a night that could look good for the party. JG

Labour supporters at the Town Hall (Photo: Justin Giovannetti)

7.42pm: Swarbrick leading in Auckland Central, Greens go wild

Chlöe Swarbrick is currently in the lead for Auckland Central and the crowd has gone wild. They’re absolutely fronting. Screaming can be heard through the halls. Chlöe is hard to spot as she’s wearing a navy dress instead of her campaign uniform of chinos and a button-up, but she’s smiling.

Mayor of Dunedin Aaron Hawkins is here, unrecognisable in a T-shirt instead of his traditional corduroy jacket. He’s just stoked not to be campaigning for the first time in three years. When asked if he was now campaigning to be perma-mayor instead of a Green MP, he said regardless of his views on the End of Life Bill, “if I’m 63 and still here, put me out of my misery”. Hawkins walked past the Act party event on the way here. He described it as “Caucasian” and warned that David Seymour is apparently going to turn up on a boat. JA

7.40pm: Over it? Here’s what you can switch the channel to

Sick of the election already? Here’s what you could be watching instead (or second screening while you refresh our live updates).

On TV2, we’ve got one of the stronger entries in the Will Ferrell film canon – Semi-Pro. The 2008 sports comedy follows the trials and tribulations of the Flint Tropics, battling underdogs in the American Basketball Association. Keep an eye out for an excellent cameo from Andre Benjamin, aka Andre 3000 from OutKast.

On TVNZ Duke, they’ll be repeating two old episodes of The Simpsons. Unfortunately they’re both from season 26, so the less said there the better. Later on, the channel will be showing middling Leonardo DiCaprio conspiracy drama Shutter Island.

On Prime, it’s the rugby. Taranaki has headed down to Invercargill to take on Southland, in a battle that sees a recent winner (and loser) of the Ranfurly Shield up against a side enjoying a much improved but still patchy season.

On Bravo, it’s some medical show called Body Fixers, followed by Keeping up with the Kardashians.

For those in Southland, Channel 39 will be showing classic horror flick The House on Haunted Hill. Bizarrely, the film rated Adults only is followed up by The Hunchback of Notre Dame after the watershed.

And for those with Christian channel Shine TV, there’s a lovely looking film called Sweet Inspirations, about four women who join forces to try and save a local women’s shelter from foreclosure. AB

7.34pm: It’s early, but we’re calling it

Labour is on track for twice as many seats as National, so we’re calling it. Read Toby Manhire’s full report here.

7.30pm: Māori Party partying together, apart

Leonie Hayden is at Māori Party co-leader John Tamihere’s party in Te Atatū

All Māori Party candidates are having their own separate functions tonight – the co-leaders are in their respective electorates. Debbie Ngarewa-Packer is celebrating in Hāwera, at the TSB Hub. I’m in Te Atatū where John Tamihere is celebrating with food and entertainment at Et Tu Bistro. Elsewhere, Rāwiri Waititi is in Te Kaha, Tākuta Ferris is in Lower Hutt, Heather Te Au-Skipworth is in Hastings, Mariameno Kapa-Kingi is in Whangārei and Donna Pokere-Phillips is in Hamilton. In Te Atatū, Waatea breakfast host Dale Husband is on MCing duties. Howie Morrison Jr and Chris Powley are entertaining guests with show band classics. Guests are being treated to raw fish and cheese platters. LH

Good kai at JT’s party (Photo: Leonie Hayden)

7.27pm: Electorates where interesting things could be going down

It’s extremely early days, of course. But there are some interesting things happening in a few seats already:

East Coast: With 6% of the vote counted, Labour’s Kiri Allan has a 918 vote lead over National’s Tania Tapsell.

Waiariki: On 4% of the vote counted, Labour’s Tāmati Coffey has a 41 vote lead over the Māori Party’s Rāwiri Waititi – this is one of the best chances for a Māori Party pickup.

Tāmaki Makaurau: The other good prospect for the Māori Party, their co-leader John Tamihere trails Labour’s Peeni Henare by 85 votes, with 4% counted.

Nelson: A seat that could be close to tipping already: Labour’s Rachel Boyack has a 2,662 vote lead over National’s Nick Smith, with 22% counted.

Auckland Central: The one to watch for the Greens – their candidate Chlöe Swarbrick has a 173 vote lead over Labour’s Helen White, with 10% of the vote counted. AB

7.22pm: Very quiet at the National party, and no room for The Spinoff

Stewart Sowman-Lund is at the National function at the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron

“Shit,” someone said as the first numbers popped up on the screen at National HQ. It’s not looking good. It’s incredibly quiet here too. That’s the only reason I could hear the whispered swear.

The only other noises that can be heard are media doing their live crosses and the tapping of keyboards. No sign of any MPs yet, and the party faithful who have turned up are mainly looking at their phones in the corner of the room.


7.20pm: Act and Headquarters are humming

Duncan Greive is at the Act function at Headquarters in the Viaduct

There’s quite good pizza and massive beers for the hacks, and a huge contingent of Young Act who are very clean cut and very excited to be running the door.

Few senior Act party figures – but across the square, sister venue Little Headquarters is closed for a private function, with blinds pulled. Seems like Seymour is nestled within.

They’ve plumped for TVNZ’s coverage and there was a somewhat muted roar when the first Act vote figures were announced. Which suggests that a number closer to 10 was being dreamed of around these parts. DG

The Act function (Photo: Duncan Greive)

7.16pm: Greens get going

Josie Adams and Sherry Zhang are at the Greens function in Wynyard Quarter

Candidates and volunteers alike have been filing into GridAKL, just around the corner from Act’s event at Headquarters, since 6pm. Although Shaw’s electorate is Wellington Central, he’s been in Auckland with Green Party volunteers all day and will be accompanying co-leader Marama Davidson to the Auckland event; they’re predicted to arrive around 8pm.

Local Auckland candidates Lourdes Vano (Manurewa), Lawrence Xu-Nan (Pakuranga), and Ricardo Menendez-March (Maungakiekie) all arrived bright and early, excited for the night ahead. Vano is staying in Auckland Central for the night, ready for a long one. Menendez-March is feeling a weight off his shoulders now that he’s not allowed to campaign.

Co-conveners Wiremu Winitana and Penny Leach have kicked the party off with a mihi to those who came before: “We mihi to Jeanette, to Rodd, to Russell, and to Metiria,” said Winitana. Over the course of the campaign, the team of volunteers have made over 166,000 phone calls and knocked on more than 40,000 doors, when alert levels allowed. “It can only be called ‘unprecedented’,” joked Leach. JA

The Green Party election night function at GridAKL (Photo: Sherry Zhang)

7.11pm: Toby Morris is live sketching as the results come in

7.09pm: Look up! For the rolling results

In case you haven’t noticed, if you cast your eyes upwards you’ll see a rolling ticker that’s feeding the Electoral Commission results directly into this here website, updating in real time as votes are counted. The magic of technology, eh! It’s at the top of every post you click on, as well as in pride of place at the top of our home page.

7.02pm: Where are the parties partying?

Variously jubilant or depressing, official party functions are a mainstay of election night. We’ve got reporters at Labour, National, Act, the Greens and the Māori Party shindigs, from where they’ll be filing updates throughout the night. Our political editor Justin Giovannetti, who’s heading to Labour’s do at the Town Hall, has written a round-up of how each party will be celebrating or commiserating.

7.01pm: What seats should we be watching?

Within the general party vote contest, there’s a whole group of seats that could change hands, or will be tough for incumbents to defend. Partly that will be because of the wider swing, and partly that will be down to energetic local campaigns. Alex Braae has picked out 21 of the best, with a few themes to watch too: can Labour start winning again in the provinces? Can high-profile National MPs hold onto their swingable seats against strong challenges? Where will high turnouts be needed to bolster the party vote? And can any of the minor parties grab a new stronghold?

The Māori seats are looking pretty exciting too – will the Māori Party make it back into parliament via John Tamihere or Debbie Ngarewa-Packer? Check out Leonie Hayden’s primer here.

7.00pm: And we’re off

Kia ora koutou, welcome to The Spinoff’s coverage of election night 2020. I hope you had a tremendous and relaxing day with New Zealand politics expelled from the media, and got a chance like me to do something completely different, ie listen to podcasts about American politics.

The clock has struck seven so the floodgates are open. We’ve got Spinoff writers heavily caffeinated at their desks here in out Auckland office and at party functions across the city. We’ll have dispatches flowing in through the night, as well as video and original artwork from the inimitable Toby Morris.

We’re expecting to know a lot about the outcome very soon. How soon? Here’s something I prepared earlier. A bunch of seats we’ll be watching eagerly are introduced here. Viewing options? Read this. And we’ve got a drinking game for you here. TM

Tonight’s live updates are a joint effort by a range of Spinoff contributors, some of whom will be reporting from the party functions in Auckland and some from Spinoff HQ in Morningside. Each will be bylined with the initials of its author: Josie Adams (JA), Alex Braae (AB), Justin Giovannetti (JG), Duncan Greive (DG), Leonie Hayden (LH), Justin Latif (JL), Toby Manhire (TM), Danyl Mclauchlan (DM), Stewart Sowman-Lund (SSL) and Sherry Zhang (SZ).

Check out all the dogs at polling booths Live Pupdates here. Read yesterday’s Election Live here

The Spinoff’s political coverage 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.

Mad Chapman, Editor
Aotearoa continues to adapt to a new reality and The Spinoff is right there, sorting fact from fiction to bring you the latest updates and biggest stories. Help us continue this coverage, and so much more, by supporting The Spinoff Members.Madeleine Chapman, EditorJoin Members

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