Well the final boundaries are out. There are some changes (as there always are) and a couple are quite significant.
Nikki Kaye, Auckland Central – Having won and held Auckland Central by less than a thousand votes in 08 and 11 Nikki will be overjoyed to see ALL of Grey Lynn move into Mount Albert. Grey Lynn was Jacinda’s territory and I am pretty sure she owns a house there so she will now be living outside of the electorate that she says she will contest in this year’s election. Nikki is probably sitting on a conservative majority of 2000 but it is useful to remember that with strategic voting and the like locally, and the high profile of the seat, that it will still be a hard race.
Nicky Wagner, Christchurch Central – I am really pleased for Nicky as she was gutted when the provisional boundaries came out as they made it a strong red seat. There must have been some fascinating discussion at the Commission table because it is a crazy shaped seat – how many legs does it have? Nicky only won the seat by 47 votes so holding Christchurch Central was always going to be extremely tough. Big chunks of red vote have been cut out of the electorate so Christchurch Central is back in play for both parties. Still too close to call but certainly gone in Nats favour compared to the provisionals.
Tim MacIndoe, Hamilton West – Hamilton is unique as it is the only urban centre held by the Nats . Similar boundaries to the provisionals means that by crossing the river MacIndoe has gained some strong blue areas in a high growth zone. This seat should get stronger as more development occurs. Tim’s majority may get as high as 5000-6000 this year.
Matt Doocey, Waimakariri – While there are no changes since the provisional Waimakariri is well and truly one of the most marginal seats in the country. The electorate already had a big party vote in Nats favour but Clayton Cosgrove has been pretty popular there. With Kate Wilkinson retiring Cosgrove would have been hoping to regain his seat but the boundaries haven’t been so helpful for him. Wilkinson’s very thin majority is expected to climb just into four figures – not a big jump but it matters when a race is as tight as this one.
Ruth Dyson, Port Hills – Dyson is the biggest loser in this boundary review. Her majority has been reversed with the Nats stronghold of Halswell moving into the seat, and Anderton’s old stomping ground of Sydenham moving into Christchurch Central. Dyson will have a real battle to hold this, even with the Nats putting in a new candidate. How winnable the seat is very much depends on the strength of the Nat candidate, but a good candidate could take the seat with a 2000 majority. I’d be gutted if I was Dyson as Pete Hodgson (who did the boundaries for Labour) is a good mate of hers. Perhaps this is Labour’s new (poor) strategy of retiring MPs.
Trevor Mallard, Hutt South – This is the surprise of the final boundaries. Mallard has gained all of the Western Hills (good Nat territory) and lost super red areas of Naenae and Rimutaka. Labour should have been able to stop this occurring but appear to have put up no fight. Mallard should be furious with his party for failing to keep Hutt South a real red seat. Why didn’t Hodgson fight hard for Mallard? Was it a directive from on high? Realistically, Mallard should hold the seat but he’ll be working hard for it and never should have been put in this position. I expect Mallard’s majority to be pegged down a few.
Sam Lotu-iiga, Maungakiekie – Labour were grumpy in 2008 when Sam took one of ‘their’ red seats in Maungakiekie, so they will no doubt be pleased that the blue booths have almost all been taken out of Maungakiekie. Beaumont would be silly to think her win is a foregone conclusion as Sam will throw everything into his beloved electorate and is able to cross party divides for electorate support. This seat is too close to call. Another true marginal.
Cunliffe and Labour – Labour have racked up few gains, and have taken significant hits in Christchurch, the Hutt Valley, Hamilton and Auckland. In Maungakiekie where Labour locals organised a large number of submissions they’ve made headway but they could have been similarly organised elsewhere and chose not to be. That poor organisation has put a number of Labour MPs at serious risk. At this rate, Labour will have no provincial seats (Tamati, you are dreaming in Rotorua with another Nat stronghold (Te Puke) going into Rotorua) and are fighting from behind in the marginal seats. Where was the leadership from Cunliffe, Coatsworth, Barnett and the hierarchy to stop this happening? Overall, a fail for Labour.