Electorate boundaries finalised


Electorate boundaries have been finalised with changes to 46 seats.

The Electoral Act 1993 imposes strict electoral population limits binding on the Commission.  These provide an overall constraint to ensure that there are approximately equal numbers of people in each electorate so that they have equality of representation in Parliament.  All electorates must contain electoral populations varying not more than ±5% from the following quotas which are calculated in accordance with the Act:

  Quota ±5% Allowance
North Island General Electorates 59,731 ±2,986
South Island General Electorates 59,679 ±2,983
Māori Electorates  60,141 ±3,007

There’s an interactive map of old and new boundaries here.

Jadis, guest blogging at Kiwiblog has winners and losers:


, 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. . . .

, 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. . .

, 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.  . .

, Waimakariri – While there are no changes since the provisional Waimakariri is well and truly one of the most marginal seats in the country. . .


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. . .

, 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. . . .

, 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.

It looks like National has gained more and lost less than Labour which could well end up with fewer electorates than it has now.

Does this mean Labour, having failed to get its dead wood to go voluntarily is prepared to lose seats in the hope of renewal in three year’s time?

Or is it just another sign the party can’t get its act together?


Tweaking MMP won’t be easy


Proponents of MMP say the system needs tweaking to make it better fit New Zealand.

That won’t be easy.

A spokesperson for the Keep MMP campaign, Sandra Grey, says one of the main issues that should be looked at is the ability for candidates to stand for both a party list and an electorate.

One of the biggest issues people have with the system is the ability for someone who has been rejected by an electorate to remain in parliament on the list.

Changing that would have very little impact on the wee parties when few of them win electorates but it would have a major impact on National and Labour and would worsen the perception we have two classes of MP.

Kate Wilkinson and Nicky Wagner didn’t need to win seats, they would have been in parliament on the list. But they are justifiably delighted at winning their electorates, Waimakariri and Christchurch Central for several reasons, one of which is that they have a mandate from the people rather than just being in parliament at the pleasure of the party.

They were already hard working and effective MPs, they wouldn’t have won their seats had they not been. That won’t change but the perception of their role will because even after 15 years with MMP, being an electorate MP is still regarded as being better than a list MP.

That perception would worsen if there were no dual candidacies.

If candidates could stand in only an electorate or for the list the wee parties wouldn’t have candidates in any seats unless they came to an arrangement with one or other of the bigger ones, as has happened in Epsom and Ohariu.

The bigger parties would find it much harder to get candidates to stand in marginal or unwinnable seats if it meant there was no possibility of entering, or staying in, parliament on the list.

It could also make list MPs more removed from a wide cross section of people. Electorate MPs and those who hope to win electorates can’t pick and choose who they serve. List MPs, knowing they weren’t ever going to have to contest an electorate, could work only with those who were likely to support their parties.

The two seats I’ve mentioned were won by National list MPs, Waitakere has been won by  a Labour list MP.  The people in these seats have had two advocates rather than one. They might still have a buddy list MP, if people could stand only for an electorate or the list, but the motivation for the buddies wouldn’t be as great as it is for those who know they will be trying to win not only party votes but the seat as well.

Without the protection of a list place, MPs might forget that while they represent and must advocate for their constituents, they are also in parliament for the good of the whole country.

Lindsay Mitchell argues that Paula Bennett should wear the loss of Waitakere as a badge of honour:

Sue Bradford stood for Mana in Waitakare to play up welfare hysteria. Carmel Sepuloni was the feasible Labour candidate able to represent the anxieties Bradford stirred. Labour also did some shitty things to stir up fear and paranoia among beneficiaries. In the face of these two influences it is hardly surprising that a welfare-reforming Minister half serious about the job would lose electorate votes.

Paula’s achievements as a Minister might well have cost her the seat, although with only an 11 vote loss that is not yet certain, but as a list MP she will still be in parliament working so that welfare, as Lindsay says is:

the safety net it once was rather than the career (too respectable a word) choice it has become.

Paula has first hand experience of life on a benefit. She knows it’s hard but she also knows it’s possible to get off it. Parliament is a better place for having people with her life experience in it, it would be worse if losing an electorate cut her career short.

Another factor, unlikely to win much sympathy from the wider public, is party control of candidates and MPs.

One reason Labour did so badly this election is that most of their candidates gave up campaigning for the party vote and fought old-fashioned FPP campaigns for electorates. If candidates could stand only in a seat or on the list that would happen every election.  People like a bit of independence from MPs but most also punish parties for disunity and disloyalty and there would be a lot more of that if candidates had to opt for either an electorate or the list.

I understand why people who reject MPs in electorates find the party votes of the rest of the country keep them in parliament but under MMP its the party vote that counts.

Tweaking the system won’t change that and any tweaks that reinforce the distinction between list and electorate MPs would make the MMP worse.

Many measures of diversity


Green Party MP Catherine Delahunty is unhappy about the first decline in the number of women MPs since MMP was introduced and is blaming National.

National having only three female MPs in the top 20 shows a lack of commitment to gender representation.

“No country or Parliament is better off if women are blocked from political leadership,” Ms Delahunty said.

No-one’s blocking anyone and it’s got nothing to do with National’s commitment to gender representation.

National has a lot of electorate MPs which reduces the number of places available on the list, many are long serving, including those selected before MMP was introduced.

Among those with relatively new MPs are the three big central South Island electorates Waitaki, Rangitata and Selwyn, which might be regarded by some as conservative. All are represented by National women, – Jacqui Dean, Jo Goodhew and Amy Adams respectively. So is Waimakariri which Kate Wilkinson won on Saturday and Nicky Wagner is waiting for specials to see if she can take Christchurch Central which finished with a draw on election night.

There haven’t been many opportunities for new candidates in the last two elections but it is probable that a good number of the older MPs will retire this term or next which will provide openings for new entrants.

Anyone, man or woman, who wants to be a National MP should start working towards selection now if they haven’t already done so. That means taking an active role in the party and building up membership.

National is the only party which allows members to choose their candidate providing an electorate has sufficient members to do so.Candidates who’ve proven themselves as active members will have a better chance of winning selections.

Gaining selection with the support of members is far better than hoping you’ll get a winnable list place through tokenism.

Kiwiblog has a chart showing the demographics  of the new parliament, illustrating gender isn’t the only measure of diversity.

What he doesn’t show though is what the MPs did before entering parliament nor how many got a pay rise and how many took a cut.

That’s another measure of diversity in which I suspect National would do very well.

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