The 2011 General Election has seen the return to Parliament of New Zealand First and their charming yet enigmatic leader, Winston Peters. This followed a disappointing 2008 election where the party failed to gain the 5% threshold, coming in with 4.07%, and Peters being hammered in Tauranga by Simon Bridges, who enjoyed a 11,742 vote majority over Peters.
With Peters standing as a List only candidate for this election, arguably the party's next highest profile candidate, former TVNZ weather presenter Brendan Horan was given the nod to stand in Tauranga. This enabled Peters to concentrate on the party vote, which was realistically the only way they would make Parliament.
Peters has always had a nous for seizing an opportunity, and when Prime Minister John Key and Act's Epsom Candidate made an absolute shambles of their cup-of-tea media stunt, Peters pounced on the opportunity to make hay. It proved a good harvest for Peters, who maintained media coverage throughout the penultimate week of the campaign. Never mind that Peters initially decried the taping as an illegal "News of the World" type stunt, once he allegedly had his hands on a transcript of the taping, there was no stopping him and his Party's progress to Parliament.
On election night they ended with 6.81% of the party vote, entitling them to 8 seats in the house.
So let's take a look at where New Zealand First's resurgent support came from. Note that the following analysis is based 2008 data and preliminary results from the 2011 election.
Biggest Party Vote by Electorate
|Rank ||Electorate ||Candidate ||Party (%) ||Change |
|1 ||Tauranga ||HORAN, Brendan ||15.41 ||n/c |
|2 ||Bay of Plenty ||DOLMAN, Raymond ||12.94 ||n/c |
|3 ||Waiariki || ||11.37 ||n/c |
|4 ||Coromandel ||STONE, Kevin ||11.26 ||+3 |
|5 ||Tamaki Makaurau || ||11.01 ||+4 |
|6 ||Rotorua ||TABUTEAU, Fletcher H ||10.86 ||n/c |
|7 ||Te Tai Tokerau || ||10.38 ||-3 |
|8 ||Hauraki-Waikato || ||10.32 ||+6 |
|9 ||Northland || ||10.27 ||-4 |
|10 ||Whangarei ||PARAONE, Pita ||9.77 ||-2 |
Little has changed in NZ First's support base from 2008, with Tauranga and the Bay of Plenty region showing strong support for Peters. The other point to note, is even though Peters refuses to stand candidates in the Maori seats, the party still maintains strong support from them.