Brooking celebrates win while ‘heartbroken’ over Labour’s loss

Election night was bittersweet for new Dunedin MP Rachel Brooking: she won the battle to replace the retiring David Clark as electorate MP, but had to watch many of her Labour colleagues lose their jobs as her party lost the electoral war to National.

"I am very grateful to the voting public of Dunedin that they have had confidence in me.

"That’s great and I am very appreciative of that.

"But also I am heartbroken about the national result.

"It will be good to catch up with people I haven’t seen for a while at caucus on Tuesday.

"We had such a wonderful caucus of highly skilled and engaged people, and it will be really sad."

Dunedin’s new electorate MP Rachel Brooking (centre) celebrates with supporters on election night...
Dunedin’s new electorate MP Rachel Brooking (centre) celebrates with supporters on election night. PHOTO: STEPHEN JAQUIERY
Ms Brooking won by a comfortable election night margin of 7160 votes — only two other Labour MPs recorded a larger majority.

However, her total votes of 14,596 was well short of what Dr Clark had recorded in the seat in the past, thanks largely to turnout being about 12,000 votes down on 2020.

Ms Brooking, elected as a list MP in that election, made great strides in her first term in Parliament, becoming a minister outside of Cabinet.

She felt that experience in particular would be useful as she prepared for life as an Opposition MP.

"There will be no shortage of issues; we want to fix the funding issues around the university and we also want to get the hospital built on time.

"I am very keen on advancing the learning centre to go with the university, polytechnic and hospital.

"A brief period as a minister has helped me understand a bit more about how to be effective in opposition.

"It’s going to be different though."

Finishing second to Ms Brooking, in his final election campaign, was National list MP Michael Woodhouse.

The former hospital administrator suffered a major blow in August when he was given what he considered an unelectable position on the party list and chose to refuse it.

As results transpired, National won so many electorates on Saturday that Mr Woodhouse would have struggled to be re-elected from his final caucus ranking of 17, let alone from wherever he had been provisionally ranked for this year — the lowest-ranked person elected on the National list was Andrew Bayley, ranked 15.

"Had I been given the list place I was offered I would not have been an MP today.

"The last time National came to power, the last ranked list MP through on the night was ranked, I think, 51, so that is a quite extraordinary night.

"That time I was ranked 49."

Departing National MP Michael Woodhouse and wife Amanda at the National Party function on...
Departing National MP Michael Woodhouse and wife Amanda at the National Party function on election night. PHOTO: GREGOR RICHARDSON
Mr Woodhouse, like all departing National MPs, will be presented a silver tray to mark their time in Parliament at a special caucus meeting.

After that he planned to take a break before deciding what to do post politics.

"While I am delighted that we have seen a change of government, there are definitely no regrets.

"It was my hope that I would be part of a Cabinet lead by Christopher Luxon and I regret that that’s not going to happen, but once that was not my reality I just had to move on.

"I’m fairly philosophical about that. That’s politics."


The numbers

Electorate vote
Rachel Brooking  14596 (majority 7160)
Michael Woodhouse 7436
Francisco Hernandez 6013
Ben Peters (Top) 1463

Party vote
Labour 10990
Green 8911
National 7759
New Zealand First 2051 , Political editor