Rahui Katene (Te Tai Tonga)
Losing Te Tai Tonga is a blow. Not only does it mean they now only represent a minority of the Maori seats, it also means that they do not hold the balance of power if National loses a seat on specials. Their ability to get policy gains is diminished.
On the plus side, they held off strong challenges from Labour’s Shane Jones in Tamaki Makaurau and Mana’s Annette Sykes in Waiariki. Losing either of those seats would have been fatal.
The immediate challenge is policy gains from National. As National can govern without them, these will be limited. Most of the “easy” gains were got last time.
The next challenge will be identifying successor to Sharples and Turia. Flavell will become a co-leader, but they will need a candidate who can retain Tamaki Makaurau also.
There is now a three way contest in each of the Maori seats with Labour, Maori and Mana. Their dreams of holding all seven Maori seats will never occur. It is difficult to see how they can increase their number of seats in the future unless there is some rapprochement with Mana.
The constitutional review is the big wild card. If they can get something substantial from that, such as Iwi observer rights on all local authorities, then that could give their supporters something to campaign on.