Cannabis referendum: Where support for legalisation was highest

Voters in areas where support for cannabis legalisation was high were far more likely to back their local Labour candidate than National, data from the final election result shows.

The referendum on the Government's Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill narrowly failed, 50.7 percent against and 48.4 percent in favour. 

Labour leader and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, and Justice Minister Andrew Little both voted in favour, while National Party leader Judith Collins said her entire caucus was voting against (though as a secret ballot, there's no way of knowing if that's how they actually voted).

Data shows support for legalising cannabis was highest in Wellington, with 72 percent of voters casting their ballots in Wellington Central and 65 percent in Rongotai saying yes.

Because voters on both the general and Māori rolls placed their papers in the same box, the Electoral Commission says it's impossible to differentiate between them - for example, the results for Wellington Central include some voters from Māori electorates Ikaroa-Rāwhit, Te Tai Hauāuru and Te Tai Tonga.

Auckland Central - which gave Greens candidate and drug reform advocate Chlöe Swarbrick a historic win - came in second for cannabis support, with 66 percent in favour.

Strong support was also recorded in Dunedin (62) and Ardern's Mt Albert (61). Narrow wins were also clocked up in Christchurch East and Central, Northland, Mana, Ōhāriu, East Coast, Kelston, Hutt South and Banks Peninsula.

Of these 14 regions, only one electorate - Northland - backed a National candidate. Of the 51 areas that voted against legalisation, about half elected a National or ACT candidate. 

Chlöe Swarbrick.
Chloe Swarbrick. Photo credit: Getty

The strongest opposition came from Botany in Auckland's east, with only 31 percent support. Sub-40 percent support was also registered in Pakuranga, Takanini, Selwyn, Rangitata, Māngere, East Coast Bays, Waimakariri and Mt Roskill.

The only electorate which National got more party votes than Labour, Epsom, had only 45 percent support for legalisation. 

Only 40 percent support for legalisation was recorded in Collins' electorate of Papakura.

Despite the narrow margin, Ardern has ruled out pushing ahead with the Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill. Many have suggested if she made her support clear before the election was over, it may have passed.

"Do I regret allowing people to make their own decision on this incredibly important issue? No," she told this weekend. 

"People did need to make their own personal choice on this in the same way that I did."

She said there was no proof her advocacy would have changed the result.