Election 2023: Politicians who could be in and out when final election results revealed

The nerve-wracking wait for the official election results will come to an end on Friday, revealing exactly how New Zealanders have voted and how the next Parliament will look.  

While it's clear Kiwis have voted for a shift to the right, and National is in prime position to lead the next Government, the inclusion of the roughly 570,000 special votes could lead to some small - but significant - changes to the number of MPs each party has.  

There are also several electorates that remain too close to call. While candidates elected on the preliminary results have spent the past three weeks at Parliament learning the ropes, that could be the closest they come to becoming an MP depending on how the results end up.  

Looking back on past elections, special votes typically favour the left, so it's expected National could lose a seat or two. National candidates only just holding onto an electorate on the preliminary results may also be in for a brutal blow. Recounts are also possible in the tightest electorates.  

Here are some politicians who could be in and out once the veil is lifted on the official results at 2pm on Friday:

Tight electorates  

Te Atatū  

The closest electorate in the country, Te Atatū in west Auckland, is currently held by Labour MP and former senior minister Phil Twyford.   

He's held it since the 2011 election and secured it at the 2020 election with a margin of 10,508 votes.  

But despite the seat not being held by National since the early 1990s, it could be about to go blue.  

National's Angee Nicholas is ahead on the preliminary results, but by just 30 votes. That could change once the special votes are counted.   

Neither Nicholas nor Twyford are high enough on their respective parties' lists to secure a position in Parliament without winning the electorate.  

Depending on how the results turn out, Nicholas' time at Parliament may be just her three-week induction, or Twyford, the former Housing Minister, could be gone.   


Unlike Te Atatū which wasn't expected to be a close race, Nelson was always going to be up for grabs by either major party.  

Labour's Rachel Boyack made a big splash in 2020 when she beat Nick Smith, the Father of the House and a former National minister who had held the seat since 1996. While Smith returned to Parliament on the list, he soon left and is now the Nelson Mayor.  

Boyack's current majority from the 2020 election is 4525 votes, which may not be enough in the face of the blue wave.  

National's Blair Cameron is currently leading on the preliminary results by 54 votes.  

Neither candidate is high enough on their lists to enter Parliament without the Nelson seat.

Banks Peninsula  

This is another electorate that wasn't expected to be such a toss-up.   

There are just 83 votes between National's Vanessa Weenink, who is leading, and current Labour MP Tracey McLellan.  

Banks Peninsula was an electorate between 1996 and 2008 - held for the most part by Labour's Ruth Dyson. Boundary changes in 2008 led to the formation of the new electorate of Port Hills, which was held by Dyson for its entire existence until 2020 when Banks Peninsula returned and Dyson retired.  

While Weenink has no shot of returning to Parliament on the list if she loses the seat, McLellan could be in with a chance depending on how the results fall. The more of these tight electorates Labour wins, the fewer list positions it will have.

Mt Albert  

Arguably the biggest shocker of election night was seeing the colossal majority Labour held in Mt Albert whittled down to the point where the party could potentially lose it.  

Mt Albert is meant to be one of the strongest Labour seats in the country. Former Prime Minister Dame Jacinda Ardern won the seat in 2020 with a gigantic 21,246 vote majority. Previous Labour leaders, including Helen Clark, have held this seat.  

While it wasn't expected Labour MP Helen White would hold the seat with quite as large a majority as Dame Jacinda did, preliminary results show she is ahead by just 106 votes.  

Newshub Political Editor Jenna Lynch said on election night that White "should be ashamed of herself" about that result, but White told Newshub a couple of days later she was "really proud" of how she had done.   

"I didn't do badly. I did really, really well and if you look at the stats you'll see that."     

Given special votes normally go the way of the left, White could definitely hold the seat against National's Melissa Lee, but it is one to watch.  

 White needs the seat to return to Parliament, while Lee should get in on the list.  

Other electorates to watch  

There are a number of electorates which aren't quite as close as those previously mentioned, but a major tilt in one direction or another could lead to some influential changes.   

Two of these seats are Māori electorates. If Te Pāti Māori was to win them, it would cause a larger overhang in Parliament as it would give Te Pāti Māori more seats than it is entitled to on the party vote. This could mean a Government needs more seats than the usual 61 to have a majority in Parliament.  

  • New Lynn: National's Paulo Garcia leads this historically-left seat over Labour minister Deborah Russell by 483 votes  
  • Te Tai Tokerau: Labour's deputy leader Kelvin Davis leads this Māori electorate by 487 votes over Te Pāti Māori's Mariameno Kapa-Kingi  
  • Tāmaki Makaurau: Labour minister Peeni Henare is ahead here by 495 votes over Te Pāti Māori's Takutai Tarsh Kemp

The bigger picture  

While any changes in those Māori electorates could have an effect on how many seats are needed to form a Government - and therefore potentially play a part in determining whether National and ACT need New Zealand First to govern - the electorate results don't have a major impact on who will lead the next Government.  

But they do affect how many list positions each party will have. The more electorates a party wins, the fewer number of list MPs it can have.   

This means if National loses a number of those currently tight electorates, it would be sad news for those candidates, but the party will be able to bring in a few more people off its list. On the other hand, if Labour wins some of those electorates, there will be fewer list spots for it to fill.  

If a party's overall share of the vote reduces on the special votes - as is expected to happen with National - then it will lose a seat or two anyway.  

The potential list MPs on the edge for National include Nancy Lu, Agnes Loheni and Emma Chatterton, and for Labour, there is Camilla Belich, Tracey McLellan and Shanan Halbert.