“I won’t be able to relax until the specials are in.” While the political ground has shifted in the Northland electorate with National’s Matt King emerging with an election night majority of 1,292, he says he is taking nothing for granted.
“It was a roller-coaster night with lead changes and I really won’t fully relax until the special votes are in. I’m told they won’t really change things much but…”
Mr King flew to Wellington on Monday to begin “a round of induction’ as a first-time MP ‘buoyed up by a wave of support from the party and across the electorate.”
While special votes have still to be counted these are considered unlikely to change the outcome which sees New Zealand First Winston Peters bowing out as MP.
Mr King recorded 13,686 votes, Mr Peters 12,394, while Labour’s Willow-Jean Prime placed third with 7,219, and as she has a high list placing, she will also be going to parliament.
While Mr Peters may have lost his seat, he is still ‘the kingmaker’ in terms of a coalition government with commentators favouring a two-party alliance with National, rather than a union between Labour, the Greens and NZ First. However, Mr Peters says he’s keeping options open until all special votes have been tallied, so a decision is perhaps still a couple of weeks away.
Mr King has a new hat to wear as an MP after a career span as a policeman, a farmer, a tradesman and a businessman. He currently farms at Okaihau.
“Whether you’re running a small business in Wellsford, farming in Dargaville or showing visitors around in a stunning spot like the Bay of Islands, I know our local communities and their needs well,” he said on the campaign trail.
“This is a part of New Zealand that has it all — stunning natural environment, fertile land, good schools, successful businesses, and a strong community spirit,” strengths he said he planned to build on in government.
Party votes in Northland saw National with 47.8 per cent, compared to Labour’s 28.6 per cent, and NZ First’s 13.6 per cent. Other candidates were well down at the polls, with Conservative Mel Taylor recording 155 votes and Act candidate Craig Nelson 104.