Tauranga by-election: New MP Sam Uffindell's priorities are tackling crime and gangs, easing cost of living

Tauranga's new MP says he wants the city to be the best place in which to work, play and raise a family.

Sam Uffindell stormed to a comfortable early lead in yesterday's by-election, and from there his win was never in doubt.

Uffindell was the runaway winner, getting 10931 votes or 56 percent of the total votes cast - although just 40 percent of the registered voters in the electorate participated.

Uffindell said he was spending the first day as Tauranga's new MP with his family, before flying to Wellington for his first week at Parliament.

His priorities would be the city's infrastructure, and cracking down on gangs, he said.

"I'm going to get our roads improved. We're going to tackle crime and gangs. We're going to ease the cost of living crisis, and we're going to work to restore local democracy in Tauranga," Uffindell told supporters last night.

He planned to introduce a member's bill that would fine gang members riding in convoys, or confiscate their motorbikes.

Uffindell told supporters he was aspirational for Tauranga and wanted "it to remain one of the best places in New Zealand to live, work and raise a family".

National Party president Peter Goodfellow said it was a great night to end a "fantastic" campaign.

"Sam was just absolutely getting out there and visiting the businesses, visiting the people and being visible and it's pretty hard when you were only selected seven weeks ago."

National's leader, Christopher Luxon, said the result showed that National was back in business, and that New Zealanders were fed up with a Labour government that could not get things done.

Labour's Jan Tinetti got 4893 votes and ACT's Cameron Luxton was in third place with 1991 votes.

Tinetti, who remains in Parliament as a list MP, said she was extremely proud of her campaign.

Luxton said he was proud he cracked 10 percent, and that in a by-election with poor turnout he got more votes than at the general election in 2020.

By-elections usually suffer from poor turnout and Tauranga was no exception.

A total of 19,403 people voted, which is 40 percent of those enrolled to do so in Tauranga.

That compares with a 44 percent turnout at the Northcote by-election in 2018, 30 percent in Mt Albert in 2017, and 38 percent in Mt Roskill in 2016.

The Electoral Commission says about 1500 ballots are still to be counted from the special votes.