A leaked internal email from Labour volunteers shows MP Helen White’s team cites party leader Chris Hipkins as one of the reasons they nearly lost the stronghold seat of Mount Albert, reports Newshub.
On election night, it appeared National’s Melissa Lee might claim the Auckland seat but White held on with 9997 votes to Lee’s 9891. After the special votes were counted, White won by a narrow 20-vote margin.
But her victory in the historically impenetrable red fortress of Mount Albert is not set in stone just yet, with the National Party today formally applying for a judicial recount.
Speaking to the media after the election, White claimed: “I didn’t do badly. I did really, really well.
“Look at those results and you’ll see it was a really good campaign.”
A recount will be held after Helen White won the Mt Albert electorate by just 20 votes over Melissa Lee. Photo / Jason Oxenham
Now, an email leaked to Newshub suggests White’s team have a list of reasons to blame for the poor performance.
The email of volunteer feedback shows a curated “chuck” list of what might have caused the microscopic margin. It was allegedly leaked from a disgruntled volunteer.
On the chuck list is Hipkins, who was yesterday endorsed as the Labour leader by its caucus.
- 'I want a fair tax system': Chris Hipkins sets his sights on leading opposition
- Live: Hipkins to battle on as Labour leader as Little departs
- Hipkins to discuss his future with Labour; National, NZ First discussions continue
The “chuck” list also included the Green Party, bad numbers in their phone database, being complacent on safe seats, a late and ineffective manifest from the Labour Party, poor morale, and campaigning on management instead of vision.
White had earlier said the Greens’ “aggressive” campaign in Mt Albert was a reason for her razor-thin win.
Under the “keep” list, the email shows door-knocking, sign waving, pushing for 16-year-olds to vote and “a fab candidate”.
The Herald has approached the Labour Party for comment about the leaked lists.
In a statement to Newshub, White said she supports Hipkins as Labour leader as does the Mount Albert electorate committee, and there was a wide range of views about why Labour lost.
Labour has held the seat since its creation in 1946. New Zealand’s first Labour prime minister, Michael Joseph Savage, held the seat when it was part of the West Auckland electorate.
Former prime minister Dame Jacinda Ardern won the seat with a 21,246-vote majority over National opponent Melissa Lee in 2020. The seat has also previously been held by former prime minister Helen Clark and former Labour leader David Shearer.
Mount Albert is one of three formal recounts, the others being Tāmaki Makaurau and Nelson.
Te Pāti Māori’s Takutai Tarsh Kemp leads Labour’s Peeni Henare by four votes in the Māori electorate of Tāmaki Makaurau and Labour’s Rachel Boyack leads National’s Blair Cameron in Nelson by 29 votes.
Normally, recounts last between three and four days but the Electoral Commission last week said bigger electorates could take up to eight days.
Nelson would begin at 11am on Friday. Mt Albert and Tāmaki Makaurau would begin at 9am on Monday. Candidates were entitled to have one scrutineer observe the process.
If the judge found the current result was incorrect, they would order the Electoral Commission to give an amended declaration.
Rachel Maher is an Auckland-based reporter who covers breaking news. She has worked for the Herald since 2022.
Take your Radio, Podcasts and Music with you