What the data tells us: Māori and Pacific voters throw support behind Labour

Labour leader Jacinda Ardern with deputy leader Kelvin Davis.
Labour leader Jacinda Ardern with deputy leader Kelvin Davis. Photo credit: Newshub.

Labour did stonkingly well in electorates with high numbers of Pacific and Māori voters in the 2017 election.

Labour's 10 most popular electorates were the seven Māori seats and the three electorates with the highest Pacific populations in the country, data sourced from Kiwi International Digital Systems (KIDS Graphics) Ltd reveals.

The electorate in which Labour took the most party votes was the one with the Aotearoa's most Pacific Islanders - Māngere.

Pacific Islanders make up 60 percent of the Māngere electorate, with Maori and Asians making up 16 percent each.

Labour took out 69.2% of the party vote in the electorate. 

Māngere has one of the lowest European populations in the country, with 20 percent, compared to the New Zealand average of 74 percent. 

Labour's Māngere candidate, Aupito William Su'a Sio, told Newshub that Māori and Pasifika communities voted Labour because they are working-class communities that hadn't experienced the benefits of the "so-called rock-star economy".

"I suspect for Māori and Pasifika communities, in the last five years, things just got worse for many. We're working-class communities. 

"While the Government was talking about a growing economy, and the average income being significantly higher and people experiencing a brighter future, we certainly didn't feel that. 

"We were at the bottom in terms of economic benefits from the so-called rock-star economy. We weren't feeling that at all."

Mr Sio increased the party vote by 2.3 percent in Māngere. He said he ran a campaign that explicitly emphasised the importance of the party vote over the electorate vote.

Labour's top 10 electorates (by percent of party vote)

1. Māngere - 69.2%

2. Ikaroa-Rāwhiti - 64.7%

3. Manukau East - 64.3%

4. Hauraki-Waikato - 61.2%

5. Tāmaki Makaurau - 59.1%

6. Te Tai Hauāuru - 58.1%

7. Waiariki - 57.6%

8. Te Tai Tokerau - 57.5%

9. Manurewa - 56.6%

10. Te Tai Tonga - 55.9%

National bottoms out in all the Māori electorates

The seven seats National performed the worst in were the seven Māori electorates, where it took less than 13 percent of the party vote. 

Not only were they the electorates with the lowest percentage of the National party vote, National did worse in all of the seats compared to 2014.

It got just 4.9 percent of the party vote in its worst-performing electorate - Ikaroa-Rāwhiti.

National didn't stand candidates in any Māori seats and all of them saw a huge swing towards Labour.

National's worst-performing seats (by party vote percentage)

1. Ikaroa-Rāwhiti 4.9

2. Waiariki 5

3. Tāmaki Makaurau 6.6

4. Te Tai Hauāuru 6.7

5. Hauraki-Waikato 7.2

6. Te Tai Tokerau 7.7

7. Te Tai Tonga 13

8. Māngere 17.9

9. Manukau East 23.4

10. Dunedin North 28.2

Huge swing toward Labour in the Māori seats

The Māori electorate seats swung to Labour in a big way. Labour won all of the seats, ejecting the Māori Party out of Parliament. 

It also took out the party vote in the electorates

The biggest swing to Labour was in Te Tai Tokerau - deputy leader Kelvin Davis' territory - where Labour gained 22.4 points, going from 35.1 percent of the vote in 2014 to 57.4 percent this time around.

The Māori Party didn't stand a candidate in Te Tai Tokerau, as part of a deal with Hone Harawira. That may have come at a cost to the party vote. 

The Māori Party's biggest loss was in the northernmost Māori electorate, slipping from 10 percent of the vote to 6.1 percent.

Labour's success in the Māori seats came at the expense of the Māori Party, which failed to win an electorate and ended up with a small loss in party vote overall, with most of the loss coming from its best-performing electorates - the seven Māori seats.

An obligation?

Mr Sio said Labour "absolutely" will have an obligation to the Māori and Pacific communities that voted for the party. 

But he said Labour's aims to make housing more affordable and to lift wages will resonate with those communities.