Leary takes nothing for granted

Ingrid Leary had a more nervous night than she would have wanted before confirmation she had held Taieri for Labour, so nervous she is taking nothing for granted just yet.

"I am cautiously optimistic, but we have still got up to 5000 special votes still to be counted," Ms Leary said.

"We were really focused on turning out the vote, right up until the last hour.

"There was a big undecided vote and a lot of people who either couldn’t be bothered voting or felt quite disillusioned with politics, and that was coming through very strongly in our conversations.

"That has had a very big bearing on the result as well."

Ms Leary’s provisional margin fluctuated wildly on election night and at one point was in the 400s, before she pulled away late in the evening to defeat National candidate Matt French by 1308 votes.

"Saturday was an anxious time and a very sobering experience, watching the numbers come in from across New Zealand.

"This morning, having had time to do more analysis, it has made me appreciate that Taieri has appeared to buck the trend of red seats flipping to blue, so I am incredibly humbled and grateful that the electorate appears to have chose me as its MP."

Labour Taieri MP Ingrid Leary closely watches results roll in on Saturday night. PHOTO: STEPHEN...
Labour Taieri MP Ingrid Leary closely watches results roll in on Saturday night. PHOTO: STEPHEN JAQUIERY
Ms Leary said Labour would be a strong and effective opposition.

"I am stoked for my good friend and colleague Rachel Brooking to have got back in, and we have worked together very closely on issues like the new Dunedin hospital, with quite a bit of success.

"Going forward in opposition now we will have a bit more freedom to be more publicly vocal."

As a first-time candidate in a nominally safe Labour seat, Mr French would have initially entertained few hopes of winning, but the swing to the right and the close margin meant that for a few hours he could harbour hopes of causing an almighty upset.

"We brought it in pretty close, I’ll be interested to see where it ends up in a couple of weeks with special votes, although I don’t think it will be enough to change the outcome," he said.

As expected, Mr French did well in rural booths and also won Mosgiel, but the traditional Labour strength in south Dunedin got Ms Leary over the line.

"You look at the candidate votes that went to people like the Act candidate [1427] and wonder what if," Mr French said.

"I think where the electorate is now is probably where it will settle for the next election, it will be interesting to see what 2026 brings."

Unusually, Taieri will send a further two MPs to Parliament, Green candidate Scott Willis and New Zealand First candidate Mark Patterson both making it via list ranking.


The numbers

Electorate vote
—  Ingrid Leary 14,677 (majority 1308)
—  Matthew French 13,369
—  Scott Willis 3066
—  Mark Patterson 2751

Party vote
—  Labour 12,780
—  National 12,442
—  Green 3633
—  New Zealand First 2943


mike.houlahan@odt.co.nz , Political editor