Election 2023: Labour's Helen White still 'proud' of result despite just 20-vote victory, recount signalled

Labour MP Helen White says she's still proud of her election result in Mt Albert despite her grip on the historic Labour stronghold slipping to just 20 votes.   

After the election, White told Newshub she was "really proud" of her election result. On the preliminary results, she was winning her seat with a majority of just 108 votes.   

The final results narrowed that lead to just 20 votes and National is seeking a judicial recount of the electorate. White on Tuesday said she was still proud of her result and would "be sad" if she lost the recount. 

"I'm proud of winning the seat and I'm going to give it everything I've got," White said about the latest results.   

"I'll work really hard there. I come from there I'll work hard there, I'll give it my best."   

White beat her Labour colleague Camilla Belich for the candidacy of the Auckland seat when former Prime Minister Dame Jacinda Ardern resigned. Ardern reportedly endorsed Belich for the nomination but the local selection committee opted for White.   

Mt Albert is generally considered the safest Labour seat in the country – it has been held by the party for its entire 77-year history and is often held by the party leader.   

Ardern won Mt Albert with a more than 21,000 vote margin in 2020 and a more than 15,000 margin in 2017.    

"She was Jacinda Ardern, she was the leader of our country and an incredible woman and she had a huge personal following and I've got to build that kind of rapport in Mt Albert," White said.   

"I have the advantage of having come from Mt Albert, I've lived there for 34 years so that's my community and I really love that community and I'll work really hard for them."   

In 2020, White ran for the Auckland Central seat but lost to Green MP Chloe Swarbrick.   

White said 2023 was a "really hard election" and denied she decimated the vote.   

'Decimate' means to destroy by one tenth. Ardern's majority in the 2020 election was more than 21,000. White held the seat by just 20 votes – just 0.1 per cent of Ardern's 2020 majority meaning Labour's majority in the seat was destroyed by 99.9 per cent.   

When Newshub pointed out to White that she "more than decimated" the majority, White said: "You guys are really going for me, is there any particular reason?"   

"If you take a look at that seat you'll see that we had a strong two-tick campaign from the Greens. We had a National campaign on law and order. My vote's actually higher than the party vote. I did my absolute best to get the party vote out."   

Across the country, Labour won 26.91 per cent of the party vote. In Mt Albert Labour's party vote was 25.99 per cent – just shy of a percentage point lower than Labour's result.   

White secured 33.7 per cent of all the candidate votes in the electorate.   

"I'm proud of my team. We went out and we door-knocked so hard and we did a good job of that and those are the things in my control, Amelia, and I kept control of them and we've won that seat at the present time."   

White was questioned as she headed into a Labour caucus meeting in Upper Hutt where the caucus voted to keep Chris Hipkins as leader.  

White refused to say whether she would support Hipkins in the leadership vote, saying it was a matter for the caucus.   

It was pointed out that several of her colleagues had publicly backed Hipkins.   

"I believe in privacy. I come from a background of the law and so my attitude towards that sort of thing is you talk about that sort of thing in caucus and then you come out."   

White also said "I don't know" when asked whether Hipkins would be the Labour leader heading into the 2026 election but said he was "a good person who's done a good job".   

"I absolutely think he's a great guy."