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The hundreds of Tāmaki Makaurau voters who voted Labour but didn’t tick Peeni Henare cost him the electorate and paved the way for first time Te Pāti Māori candidate Takutai Kemp to win the seat and confirm a record six Māori Party MPs.
Following a recount of the Tāmaki Makaurau electorate following the election night result - Kemp held a four-vote majority over Henare - the recount has increased Kemp’s lead to 42
Meanwhile Labour’s Helen White has clung on to Mt Albert, her initial 20-vote majority over National’s Melissa Lee only dropping to 18 after the recount.
Kemp’s result means the Māori Party’s MMP - More Māori in Parliament - two-tick strategy worked.
But the Labour’s Party voting strategy failed because while they won the majority in every Māori electorate, its supporters forgot to vote for their own candidates.
Kemp told the Herald it had been a stressful fortnight waiting for the recount.
Gang of Six: Mariameno Kapa-Kingi, Takutai Ferris, Debbie Ngarewa-Packer, Hana-Rawhiti Maipi-Clarke, Rawiri Waititi and Takutai Natasha Kemp - Te Pāti Māori Party MPs, Election 2023.
“I am feeling relieved and it is good to finally get the full and final result,” Kemp said.
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“We always said every vote was going to count and I have to applaud our people for making their votes count.
“This has been an extremely hard going but I’m happy to be the MP for Tāmaki Makaurau.
“I am feeling very emotional and our grass roots approach worked.”
Had Tāmaki gone to Henare, the number of MPs would have decreased to 122 - not the 123 they have now as Henare is a high Labour list placing.
The Herald understands more than 100 Tāmaki Makaurau voters ticked Labour for their party vote but left the candidate vote blank. Their votes counted for Labour but not for a candidate.
There were also a number of voters who double-dipped, ticking Labour’s Henare and Te Pāti Māori’s Kemp - believing their two ticks could go to both candidates and making their votes void. There were also whānau who ticked Henare and Kemp as well as Labour and Te Pāti Māori, ticking their ballot paper eight times - another void vote.
Labour's Helen White has held Mt Albert after a recount. Photo / George Heard
The Herald understands at least one polling booth had to be counted four times and still had four different outcomes, while at least one booth had on election night a small number of votes for one candidate, only for those votes to be reversed in the recount.
Kemp, after the recount, received 10,068 (an increase of 18 on election night) and Henare 10,026 (a decrease of 22 from election night).
“I am satisfied that the difference in total votes have been checked and are due to counting errors plus a slight increase in the number of disallowed votes following the recount,” Auckland District Court judge Kevin Kelly wrote.
“I am satisfied that all votes have been accounted for when processing the results.”
Kelly noted some booths were attributed to the wrong candidate.
“In the case of some polling stations, the votes in the official count were found to have been attributed to the wrong candidate. The reasons for this are unclear. In three polling stations this happened to groups of 5, 6 and 12 votes, respectively. These votes were counted against the correct candidate in the recount.”
But he was confident the recount had identified those mistakes and they had been corrected.
Joseph Los’e joined NZME in 2022 as Kaupapa Māori Editor. Los’e was a chief reporter, news director at the Sunday News newspaper covering crime, justice and sport. He was also editor of the NZ Truth and prior to joining NZME worked for 12 years for Te Whānau o Waipareira.
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