Never Mind The Bollocks: Here Are The Marginal Predictions
By Selwyn Manning - Scoop Co-Editor
While the major focus of this year's election campaign coverage has firmly examined Don Brash and Helen Clark's performances, there's a fight taking place out in the marginal seats and even a high-placed Cabinet minister looks likely to lose.
Scoop can confirm National is gaining traction.
Even in the south Auckland electorates, while Labour will hold Manurewa, Manukau East, Mangere, the traditionally large election night Labour majorities are promising to be slashed.
Here is a list of marginal seats that mostly look likely to turn blue on Election-Night.
Northcote: There's a close race shaping between National's Northcote candidate, Jonathan Coleman, and Labour's sitting MP Ann Hartley. Hartley is Parliament's deputy speaker and former North Shore City mayor (1989-92).
In 1999, Hartley beat National's Ian Revell by the slimmest of margins (300 votes). Hartley worked her electorate hard in Labour's first term of office and stretched her majority out to around 2600 in 2002.
But this election, National has chosen a strong candidate in Coleman. He is a doctor with experience in both New Zealand and the United Kingdom, worked for the Flying Doctor Service in Australia's outback, and who holds an impressive academic record of achievement spanning qualifications from the UK, USA, and New Zealand. He is a member of the New Zealand Medical Association.
Scoop understands that National's polling is showing a strong surge of support for Coleman. Labour's polling is showing a tight-n-close race. A number of sources say the feeling on the ground is hinting at a swing to National. Labour's Ann Hartley may just have to rely on her Party List ranking of 30 to stay on the Parliamentary Service's pay-roll.
Prediction: I will stick my neck out here and say… Coleman! But it is almost too close to predict.
Epsom: Well well well, it appears ACT leader Rodney Hide's suggestions that he was ahead in Epsom may have been pumped up and inflated by hope-gas. National's laid-back and barely visible incumbent Richard Worth will never light fires nor push for meaningful reform. But he holds the Party ticket that matters in this Auckland Grammar zone electorate.
Worth inherited Epsom off former National Cabinet minister, Christine Fletcher, who, left a strong electorate party machine for Worth to work. Unfortunately for the Nats, Worth hasn't been able to hold the enthusiasm or attention of the local-loyals and National's election committee isn't what it once was.
That said, despite Hide's logic that a win for ACT in Epsom equals several extra MPs to support Brash, the Hide-Tide does not appear to be surging with the necessary zest to push him over the line.
Prediction: The answer lies in chatter over scones and tea. Conservatives, not reformists, win Epsom.
Hamilton East: Hamilton East has always been divided between tory rural strongholds and a growing urban community. Labour has held this seat in the past largely on election day swinging voters.
It appears Saturday will see Labour's sitting MP Dianne Yates lose her seat to National's candidate, David Bennett. Bennett is a dairy farmer and former KPMG accountant. He's been a long-term member of the local National Party and has held several executive roles with the party's regional branches.
Yates will however return to Parliament as a List MP due to her number 28 position.
Prediction: It's a win for the farmers n accountants, stand up Mr Bennett!
Hamilton West: National's Tim Macindoe is onto a winner in Hamilton West. He left his senior adviser position at the Ministry of Education early this year and had previously worked as a marketing manager for a financial services company. He stood for National against Winston Peters in Tauranga in 2002 and was awarded for a spirited campaign with a "this time mate" nod for the Hamilton West candidacy.
The pressure is certainly on Labour's sitting MP, Martin Gallagher, and it is showing. Gallagher is likely to face a humiliating defeat here. At 32 on the Labour List, he will however be still on the Parliamentary Service's payroll.
Prediction: Macindoe this is your year mate!
Tauranga: Clearly it is a close fight between the National Party candidate, Bob Clarkson, and incumbent MP and New Zealand First leader, Winston Peters. Clarkson is giving Peters the hardest fought fight in the retirement stronghold for years. Clarkson is a former tradesman turned multimillionaire businessman who is a household name in Tauranga.
Polls show Tauranga to be tight n close. It may be that Clarkson wins on the night - but experience would show that that in itself will not rule Peters out of contention.
Punters may remember how Roger Douglas' brother Malcolm won against Peters in the Hunua electorate way back in 1978. Peters however pressed for a recount and won after double-voting irregularities were suspected.
Prediction: Let's leave it up to the courts!
Napier: Labour's current MP for Napier, Russell Fairbrother, is in a tight race against National's Chris Tremain. Fairbrother is a respected former defence lawyer who was the top in his field in the Hawke's Bay until taking over the candidacy in 2002 from Geoff Braybrook. Fairbrother won that seat decisively. For this election, National has fronted a former All Black great's son in an attempt to wrestle Labour's hold in Napier. Five days out from polling day, this electorate is too close to call. Tremain is a self-employed director/shareholder in Tremain Real Estate, is a Napier Boys old-boy with strong business/vintner/sporting links in this proud region. If Fairbrother loses Napier it will be Labour's loss. The blame could be levelled at Labour itself not presenting Fairbrother as a significant mover in its caucus during the past term.
Prediction: Too close to call.
East Coast: Labour's new candidate for East Coast, Moana Mackey, has an even chance of taking this electorate but a strong swing to National this week may dissolve her chances. Mackey inherited the candidacy from her mother Janet Mackey. Moana has been a Labour Party stalwart for 13 years, cementing her name in red by becoming Young Labour's president in 1999-2000. In 2002, Janet Mackey held the seat with a 5000 majority but with her retirement came marginalisation.
National's Ann Tolley is running a strong race to win East Coast. Tolley was last in Parliament as a Nat List MP and while lighting no fires while there has a conservative following in the Hawke's Bay region having also served as a Napier City and Hawke's Bay Regional Council councillor.
If the Nats win this seat, Mackey may sniff into Parliament by the thinnest of chances via her Party List position of 41. Likewise for Tolley, she is ranked 43 on the National Party list.
Prediction: Tolley's by a toe. (Amazing).
Whanganui: Labour's senior government whip, Jill Pettis, has misread her Whanganui seat and looks likely to lose it to National. Pettis was always going to face a tight campaign but, Scoop understands, her self-confidence in 2005 is not showing through in internal polling. The National candidate, Chester Borrows, began campaigning fulltime after leaving his solicitor position in Hawera. Borrows is a former police officer who studied as a mature-student and graduated with an LLB in 2002.
Pettis will be back in Parliament however thanks largely to her Party List position of 24.
Prediction: Come on in Chester Borrows!
Wairarapa: Sitting MP Georgina Beyer, the first transsexual in the world to be elected to a parliament will stand down from her electorate and rely on her Party List placing of 35 to nudge her back into Parliament. Beyer held Wairarapa in 2002 by 6372 votes. But, Labour's candidate for Wairarapa, Denise McKenzie, was a third choice compromise candidate who got the nod due to a local Labour Electorate Committee (LEC) stand-off between it and Labour's head office. This gave National a chance to win Wairarapa. Nat candidate John Hayes ONZM will likely give National its first seat in the Wellington region since 1999. Hayes was NZ's man in Singapore, India, Bahrain, Saudi, PNG, and Iran thanks to an illustrious career in the foreign service. .
Prediction: John Hayes, you are about to be National's man in Wellington.
Wellington Central: Wellington Central polling shows incumbent MP and Labour Cabinet Minister Marion Hobbs holding the seat. Hobbs has had to fight off a strong challenge from former Wellington mayor Mark Blumsky. Ironically, Hobbs has been assisted by the National Party leader Don Brash insisting that the public service is due to get the razor treatment. That's assisted Labour in holding this crucial and traditionally marginal seat - Wellington Central is the abode of thousands of public service civil servants. Blumsky ought to ride in to Parliament however on a Party List ranking of 36.
Prediction: It is Hobbs thanks to Don Brash.
Aoraki: The Labour member for Aoraki, the Hon. Jim Sutton, looks set to lose his seat to National's Jo Goodhew. Sutton's electorate was cut in two by a certain Prime Minister being driven at blinding speed. He's been up against a swing to National ever since. Sutton will be returned to Parliament however due to his Labour Party list ranking of 11.
Jo Goodhew recently resigned from her position as a co-ordinator for the Safer Community Council. Her previous roles have included Recruitment Co-coordinator for Breast-screen South Ltd; working as a registered nurse in general practices and hospitals and tutor in Health Sciences at the Aoraki Polytechnic. Jo was also the founder of the Aorangi Nursing Agency.
Prediction: It's goodnight nurse to Sutton. Get ready for public office Mrs Goodhew?
Kaikoura: Labour's media unit man, Brendon Burns (The Duke Of Marlborough) looks off the pace and at 48 on the Labour Party list looks like he will be pushing it to secure a seat in the debating chamber. Burns looks likely to be pushed aside by National's Colin King. King is a Blenheim farmer and current Meat Board director. He also holds a New Zealand Order Of Merit recognising his contribution to New Zealand's shearing and wool industry. Scoop understands he has a strong lead in the Kaikoura electorate.
Prediction: Move over Duke, King is the man!
Otago: Otago stunned National in 2002 when Labour's David Parker won it by 684 votes (a result that left Michelle Boag visibly shaken on election night). But things are not shaping up to be Parker's night this Saturday. Otago is a marginal knife-edge: the formula is Labour wins the coast (Oamaru) and National wins the rural interior. Labour's strategy was for Parker win the coast and hold his own in places like Queenstown and Wanaka.
But National's candidate, Jacqui Dean, is a face that you may remember from… Playschool. She has a strong background in marketing and broadcasting and is media savvy. She is a strategic candidate for National with a strong base in Oamaru where her husband has a legal practice.
Prediction: There's some new blood to be seen around Parliament's stale walls and the name is not David Parker.
Invercargill: Invercargill , its been Labour's nightmare for much of 2002-05. Incumbent Mark Peck's 1999 majority of over 7000 was slashed to 2,792 votes in 2002. He virtually gave up when he was again overlooked for a Cabinet role. In 2004, Education Minister Trevor Mallard's school review/closure botch-up compounded Peck's and Labour's problem in Invercargill. Peck argued Mallard's case locally, and that has caused a landslide shift away from Labour. Peck announced his retirement and Labour selected Wayne Harpur, a local activist with credible links to the business and the trade union movement. Harpur defeated Lesley Soper from the NZEI for the nod to replace Peck. This seat is National's on a plate.
National's candidate, Eric Roy, was an MP for nine years and looks certain to be reborn.
Prediction: Eric, pick up thy blanket and walk to Wellington!
UPDATE: It's 5 - 2 to the Maori Party
Te Tai Tokerau: Labour's Dover Samuels will lose his 2002 majority of 5336 to the Maori Party's Hone Harawira. Samuels has been dogged with controversy this year and is also being caned for being a front-footing member of the Labour executive that passed the Foreshore and Seabed legislation through Parliament. Harawira has shown strong political resolve and cunning proving to his electorate he's got the goods when taking on National leader Don Brash in Whangarei.
Prediction: Samuels is gone - resurrected to Parliament by his Party List ranking of 10. Hone, this is your moment!
Tamaki Makaurau: Labour's outspoken John Tamihere is set to lose his 2002 election night majority of 9444 to the man with Mana from the Maori Party, Dr Pita Sharples. Sharples has been one of the main-brains behind the surge in Maori Party support. He also has no need to spout out about what he has achieved for Maori, his record of achievement goes before him. Thousands of young Maori have benefited from inspiration emerging from Hone Waititi Marae in west Auckland.
Sharples also presents a non-threatening front for Maori Party's aspirations, and in contrast to John Tamihere, Sharples spans the urban-Maori/Iwi Maori divide.
Tamihere also has no friends in Tainui, which actively is supporting Sharples in Tamaki Makaurau.
Prediction: JT is gone.
Tainui: Labour's Nanaia Mahuta looks set to hold her Tainui seat. The Maori Party's candidate, Angeline Greensill, just has not been able to break the Mahuta Royalty's influence on voters.
Prediction: The Mahuta legacy saves Nanaia once again.
Waiariki: All predictions based on polling show Labour's Mita Ririnui is going to lose his 6717 vote majority to the Maori Party's Te Ururoa Flavell who comes from a strong educationalist's background. Ririnui is being punished for failing to promote the views of his people over the foreshore and seabed bill. At 15 on the Labour Party List, he will however be back in Parliament.
Prediction: Ririnui is gone resuscitated by the Party List ranking of 15.
Te Tai Hauauru: There is only one winner in the Te Tai Hauauru, and that will be Tariana Turia by a landslide.
Maori Affairs Minister Parekura Horomia looks poised to retake this seat albeit with some erosion to his 2002 election night majority of 10359.
Prediction: Clear win for Horomia.
Te Tai Tonga:
I had earlier predicted Labour's sitting MP Mahara Okeroa will again win the largest electorate in the nation. Things are swinging fast to the Maori Party down here and that prediction will not hold. Te Tai Tonga spans from the Wellington region down over the whole of the South Island including Stewart Island and the Chathams. Okeroa's 2002 election night majority of 8052 is to be eroded.
Update: After evaluating more detail surrounding campaigning in Te Tai Tonga I can report there's been a shift to the Maori Party away from Labour's incumbent, Mahara Okeroa. Okeroa has been handicapped by Whetu Tirikatene-Sullivan down in the south and the expectation is that Okeroa will lose that seat. This swing away from Labour will reflect in up-coming public polls. The Maori Party's candidate Monte Ohia has campaigned hard arguing a modern-day confiscation was in evidence when the Parliament passed the Foreshore and Seabed legislation. Te Tai Tonga looks set to be the fifth Maori seat to be pulled from Labour's hold.
Updated Prediction: Maori Party will win Te Tai Tonga.