Labour lost in Auckland

Labour performed relatively poorly in parts of Auckland, and there are suggestions that is due to the ethnic/immigrant vote. The ‘Chinese sounding surnames’ misstep as well as their immigration policies will have played a part.

Labour recovered from what looked like a slide to oblivion to a creditable result in the circumstances, about 36% – although it should be noted that in mid 2013 before and just after David Shearer resigned as leader, they were consistently polling in the mid thirties and as high as 37%.

This election labour recovered the least in parts of Auckland. Greg Presland has done a quick analysis in Where did Labour gain its extra votes?

I then tallied the figures across geographical regions.  I treated the Maori electorates separately as clearly something happened there.

Basically the figures suggest the increase in the vote in South and West Auckland was disturbingly small, Wellington was good, Christchurch really good, provincial areas were good especially in the South Island, the University electorates all showed significant improvement in party votes and the Maori electorates performed out of their skin.

Here is the table:

Auckland South 3.70%
Auckland West 7.40%
Waikato 9.50%
Auckland Istmus 9.90%
Auckland North 10.30%
Central North Island 10.50%
Wellington 11.30%
Canterbury rural 11.80%
Northland 12.20%
South Island rural 12.30%
Christchurch 13.70%
Dunedin 15.20%
Maori 18.50%

A few comments:

  1. The South Auckland electorates barely moved.  Perhaps the Labour vote has been maxed out and there is going to be no more persuasion occurring.  Turnout clearly should be the strategy and voting levels are not great.
  2. The West Auckland results are disappointing.  If it was not for a healthy boost from Helensville (11.9%) the result would have been very mediocre…

…As for reasons for Auckland’s relatively poor performance I suspect that elevated real estate prices has made too many of us closet tories.  But organisationally it needs more dedicated resource.  If Labour wants to win in 2020 then it needs to make sure that Auckland is organised and ready to go.

Ex Labour MP Chris Carter commented in response:

Jacinta did extraordinarily well and Labour’s vote gain outside Auckland was impressive. It seems obvious to me as someone who campaigned in West Auckland for Labour for over 20 years that the failure to connect with “ethnic voters” was a key factor in those West and East Auckland electorates failing to lift Labour’s final result.

I spent 7 years as Labour’s Ethnic Affairs Minister and many other years as Labour’s Ethnic Affairs Spokesperson. There is no substitute for personal relationships and close engagement in building support in the Chinese, Indian, Korean and the dozens of other ethnic communities that make up a big slice of Auckland’s population.

To my successors as West Auckland MPs and to the current Labour leadership l urge you to attend every ethnic cultural event you are invited too, not just once but always.

I never had a free weekend in the whole time l was an MP because attending ethnic events was so critical. Indeed the job of Ethnic Affairs Minister was the least popular choice in Cabinet jobs because of Helen’s recognition that those migrant votes were so important and could not be ignored. We just had to out perform the Nats in building those critical personal connections.

I would like to think that my work in that area helped. Connecting in a very personal way with the 184 ethnic groups that help make up the greater Auckland area is even more critical now than it was in 1999.

How much has Labour dropped the ethnic ball? They put a lot of effort into Auckland, setting up an Auckland office and giving Matt McCarten free reign until the intern scheme turned to custard.

But their main target seems to have been young voters, a demographic notoriously difficult to get out to vote.

Labour promoted their disproportionately large Maori representation, and succeeded in getting an increased Maori vote and picking up all Maori seats.

But it looks like they have some work to do addressing the immigrant and ethnic population in Auckland.

Leave a comment


  1. Blazer

     /  25th September 2017

    No surprises National was strong in Auckland.Auckland has a chinese population of over 10% and the Indian population have taken to property spec big time.Add the fact that still over 50% of Aucklanders own their own homes/mortgages and its not hard to ascertain why Labour did not do better.

  2. Strong For Life

     /  25th September 2017

    Mr Hipkins racism probably cost Jacinda the election. Hipkins’ insulting and racist claims regarding Chinese sounding surnames buying property in Auckland meant few Chinese would likely have voted for Labour in this election. It will probably take a few generations before Hipkins’ racism towards the Chinese is forgotten and Labour again gains the trust of Asians.

    • duperez

       /  25th September 2017

      Are you suggesting that the Chinese don’t forget silliness and (what you call) racism and act on their memories years down the track?

      In contrast to others who forget lying, dishonesty, rorts and other questionable behaviour five minutes down the track?


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