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NZ election

September 17th, 2005

The polls are just closing in the NZ election, for which the opinion polls have been all over the place. I’m surprised the result is even close. Helen Clark seems to have done a pretty good job, the Nationals were terrible when last in office, and while Don Brash seems like a nice enough guy in personal terms, he wasn’t much of a success as head of the Reserve Bank. The Monetary Conditions Index he introduced was a disaster and he zigged where the RBA zagged at the time of the Asian crisis, producing an unnecessary recession. However, we’ll know the result soon enough.

Update 6:30 pm Although I don’t have any knowledge of the details of the NZ system (such as which areas are counted first), the Nationals have a big lead with 20 per cent of the vote counted, and will presumably form the new government, either with an outright majority or with the support of NZ First.

Further update Sunday AM A premature concession last night! As in Australia, it appears that rural polling places finish counting first. It looks as though Labour may be returned, although the complex relationships between the various minor parties may complicate this. A sidelight of interest in relation to the debate over economic reform is that ACT (Association of Consumers and Taxpayers) was wiped out. It originally stood for uncompromising support of the free-market reforms of the Rogernomics era, but broadened its basis with law-and-order and anti-Maori rhetoric. The disappearance of ACT is not really good news, since the Nationals have adopted much of the same rhetoric on race issues, but it can reasonably be said to mark the end of the era of radical reform.

Yet Further update Sunday PM Wrong again! Rodney Hide of ACT got back in with an electorate seat, and MMP may give ACT one more. That’s what comes of trying to follow elections while in dialup mode, I guess.

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  1. Ian Gould
    September 18th, 2005 at 18:55 | #1

    >If the Maori population forms 15% of the total NZ population (assuming that also translates into the Voting Age population) is 4 seats a good or poor result for the party?

    Under the Maori seats system. maori can choose either to vote in one of the reserved maori seats or in their geographic electorate.

    So enough Maori decided to vote in the reserved seats to get four seats in Parliament – all of which went ot the Maori Party.

    Add in the individual maori who won geographic electorates for other parties – most notably Winston Peters – and it’s next to imposisble to infer anything about how the Maori as as a group faired.

    I think there were more MPs elected from the Maori reserved seats this time than last time, suggesting that the Nationals’ strategy back-fired.

  2. September 18th, 2005 at 19:21 | #2

    Maybe, if Ken is right, the sight of Clarke refusing to deal with the Maori party and defending the public beaches will play well for her.

  3. noone important
    September 18th, 2005 at 21:41 | #3

    I have to comment on the (common) complaint at the begnning that NZers have gone overseas because of government X, Y or Z’s policies–here, Labour, but similar complaints were made when National was in power. Actually NZers have always been going overseas, mostly to Australia (1 in 10 NZers in Oz). I doubt this has much to do with specific policies as it is an opportunity to get experience, see the bigger world, get better pay etc. This is more about NZ’s (unfortunate) place in the world than it is about politics. Naturally student loans don’t help, but they aren’t the main cause.

    There’s one thing I don’t get: why is it that special votes favour the greens? I just don’t get it. One theory might be that the further away from NZ you are, the more your vision becomes misty and idealistic, and that’s what the Greens play on (a clean green NZ!); whereas the Nats and Lab represent the grimy underside of NZ–politics. But hey, it’s just a theory.

    Finally, I have to agree with terence: what’s been really disgusting to watch from afar is the race card played by Brash. And I blame labour too for panicking about losing votes and pushing through the foreshore act. I think there’s a fine line between pushing the limits of what people will accept and reinforcing people’s prejudices, and labour could’ve done more on the former. They might also have saved their Maori MPs too (I see tamihere is gone, but that’s another story….)

  4. Terje Petersen
    September 18th, 2005 at 22:22 | #4

    New Zealand has a population compariable to Sydney. I wonder what percentage of Sydnites live outside Sydney. If its less than 10% I would be surprised.

  5. noone important
    September 19th, 2005 at 04:09 | #5

    If you meant you’d be surprised if *more* than 10% of Sydneyites were living outside Sydney I’d have 3 possible responses. I’m not sure the comparison of a city to a country is valid. Perhaps it would be better to compare the cities of Auckland and Sydney with the respective national populations? Sydney and all its benefits and opportunities are concentrated in one area; NZ’s population is dispersed across various smaller cities (and the internal migration trend is towards Auckland, the biggest city).

    Another response I might have is to say, why compare NZ with anything else at all? Does it make sense to talk about ‘NZ’ as some isolated unit that has no context or no history? There’s a long history in NZ of migration to Oz. I might suggest that in some ways NZ is part of Oz anyway. With CER and freedom of movement, a similar culture, cheap travel, already-available networks, the costs in moving to Oz are relatively low, the barriers few. It’s like moving from Nelson to Auckland. A change, but not that much of a change. In this sense, Sydney and Melbourne are also part of the urban hierarchy of NZ. Put differently, it doesn’t make sense to compare Sydney and NZ, because they have very different migration histories. I’m not sure they’re simply units which you can compare because they have similar sized populations.

    A third response might be: ok, compare NZ, but choose a more relevant country with a large neighbour next door, like the Pacific nations. Or Ireland (population = 4 million; those resident in the UK = 490000).

  6. September 19th, 2005 at 05:43 | #6


    Geoff is bang on the money – it is the repeal of the seabed and foreshore act that would be controversial.

    Compromise might be possible though. The Green party had a very sensible proposal at the time of the Seabed and Foreshore act that would give Maori their treaty determined rights but would also – via law – prohibit them from denying access to anyone, or selling anything. It was acceptable to most Maori at the time and might be acceptable to the rest of the voting populous.

    At this stage I would say that a lot may depend on who (if anyone) picks up or looses seats on the special votes.

  7. Terje Petersen
    September 19th, 2005 at 07:35 | #7

    QUOTE: If you meant you’d be surprised if more than 10% of Sydneyites were living outside Sydney I’d have 3 possible responses.

    RESPONSE: I said what I meant, but thankyou for checking.

  8. Ken Miles
    September 19th, 2005 at 10:12 | #8

    So enough Maori decided to vote in the reserved seats to get four seats in Parliament – all of which went ot the Maori Party.

    There are more than four Maori seats (seven, I think), Labour won the other three.

    Add in the individual maori who won geographic electorates for other parties – most notably Winston Peters – and it’s next to imposisble to infer anything about how the Maori as as a group faired.

    Winston Peters didn’t win a geographically based seat. Rather he will get in on New Zealand First’s party list.

    However, a total of 21 MP’s are Maori, so they are well represented in Parliament.

    As a Labour supporter who doesn’t really trust the Greens, I’m actually pretty happy with this result.

  9. September 19th, 2005 at 11:44 | #9

    Noone Important: It has been pointed out to me that the Greens did particularly well on special votes in 2002 because the election was held during a university holiday period. In 1999 they scored 4.9 per cent on normal votes and (from memory) 6.9 per cent on special votes – though the election was held on November 29, which for all I know may have been a university holiday period as well.

  10. Ian Gould
    September 19th, 2005 at 11:59 | #10


    Thanks for correcting my mistakes.

  11. September 19th, 2005 at 17:31 | #11

    If anyone is interested I have just posted a long entry on possible NZ coalition government make ups. And the political ramifications of them.

    The post is here

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