Sam and Julia Uffindell after the Tauranga byelection win on Saturday night (Photo: RNZ / Giles Dexter)
Sam and Julia Uffindell after the Tauranga byelection win on Saturday night (Photo: RNZ / Giles Dexter)

The BulletinJune 20, 2022

Does the byelection result hold clues for next year?

Sam and Julia Uffindell after the Tauranga byelection win on Saturday night (Photo: RNZ / Giles Dexter)
Sam and Julia Uffindell after the Tauranga byelection win on Saturday night (Photo: RNZ / Giles Dexter)

The result was expected but the anti-mandate movement tested its political potential while some say Labour failed to show up for the provinces, writes Anna Rawhiti-Connell in The Bulletin.


Tauranga’s new MP lines up behind party priorities

National’s Sam Uffindell won the Tauranga byelection easily over the weekend with Labour’s Jan Tinetti trailing him by 6000 votes. In step with his party and voter concerns, Uffindell says his focus is on crime, transport and the cost of living, with plans to introduce a private members’ bill that would fine gang members riding in convoys. Uffindell said the Bay of Plenty has the highest number of gang members in the country and is quoting numbers from the National Gang List (NGL). It’s probably the closest approximation to a count of people in gangs we have but police have cautioned against using it in the past, saying the NGL is an intelligence gathering exercise and not an accurate statistical picture of gang membership or activity.

A provincial bellwether?

The Herald’s political editor Claire Trevett (paywalled) thinks the prime minister missed a trick by not making an appearance in Tauranga before the byelection. The PM was due to visit last week but was sick. Leaving Tinetti to fight alone “sent an appalling message to the people of Tauranga – and by extension the people of other provinces,” says Trevett. Labour took provincial seats previously regarded as safe National seats in the 2020 election. The PM made an appearance in Northcote during the 2018 byelection campaign. The race for that seat was considered to be tighter, with Shannan Halbert eventually losing to National’s Dan Bidois by 1,310 votes. Halbert went on to win the seat by 2,534 votes at the 2020 election. Writing for Stuff, Josie Pagani thought both Labour and National were lacklustre in their campaigning efforts.

A not insignificant showing for Sue Grey

Newshub Nation-Reid research poll last week found a fifth of voters in Tauranga would consider supporting an anti-mandate party. That hasn’t come to fruition but Sue Grey of the New Zealand Outdoors & Freedom party picking up 4.8% at the byelection is noteworthy. In the Northland and Northcote byelections, candidates from parties outside parliament didn’t get more than 1.5% of the vote. Grey moved to Tauranga for the byelection so this was undoubtedly a test of the movement’s election potential.

Tamaki’s coalition upbeat

As Toby Manhire reports, Brian Tamaki’s Freedom and Rights coalition was buoyant on Saturday night, toting up the votes of Grey and two other candidates united by an anti-mandate, anti-vaxx stance, suggesting they could be in parliament next year. Manhire writes “the Billy-TK-Jami-Lee-Ross experiment of 2017 is still fresh as a cautionary tale of fringe parties forming expedient political marriages. But doubt not that they’ll be giving it a crack.” Tamaki is currently doing a round of talks throughout the country proposing that “revolution is the solution”.

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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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