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The Hamilton West by election

Written By: - Date published: 7:11 pm, December 10th, 2022 - 95 comments
Categories: by-election, elections, labour, national - Tags:

The polling booths are closed.

Who will be the next MP for Hamilton East?

It will not be Gaurav Sharma.  He is the classic example of why political ambition should be analysed carefully.

The next MP should be National’s Tamaka Potaka.  Labour’s Georgie Dansey is really good and anyone who continues to campaign with a dislocated shoulder deserves respect.

But the chances are not good.

Potaka and National should review the rules on election day campaigning because it looks like they may have issues.

If Labour wins this then I will be really surprised.

95 comments on “The Hamilton West by election ”

  1. I must admit that I've found it rather amusing that everyone is claiming to be an underdog in this election.


  2. Labour_Voter 2

    Why are you sounding so defeated even before the counting has started?

  3. swordfish 3


    57.1% counted

    Potaka (Nat) 4597

    Dansey (Lab) 3026

    McDowall (ACT) 976

    Sharma (NZMP) 827

    current margin 1571

  4. AB 4

    Labour’s Georgie Dansey is really good

    She's the one who actually sounded like a normal human being, right?

    • Labour_Voter 4.1

      She did well in the debate.

    • observer 4.2

      The TOP candidate sounded pretty good, but it made no difference. Being reasonable gets drowned out in debate when slogans and failed "solutions" are grabbing the headlines.

      • Belladonna 4.2.1

        In what is effectively a FPP election – there is really little point in voting for anyone other than the main right or main left candidates.

        Anything else is just virtue signalling, and a wasted vote.

        In that environment, I'm surprised that the TOP candidate got as many as 337 votes.

  5. pat 5

    "With 91.4 percent of the vote counted, Potaka has 5938 votes, with Labour's Georgie Dansey trailing with 4042 votes."


    Looks like less than 20,000 bothered

  6. observer 6

    The result was predictable, and predicted (not Captain Hindsight) …


    In by-elections candidates try to say nothing. Sam Uffindell did that very well (in the campaign itself).

    But now that he's elected the duct tape can come off. Potaka will be an uncomfortable MP in National's caucus. And even more so in a hypothetical Nat/ACT government. Watch this space.

    • Sacha 6.1

      Potaka will be an uncomfortable MP in National's caucus.

      How so?

      • observer 6.1.1

        See the links in my comment above.

        And today … Potaka's (and his wife's!) comments in the Herald

        The vision of "boot camps" from Luxon/National is red meat for the blue base. Very different from Potaka's perspective. He doesn't see "wraparound" as "kumbaya, mush", those are Luxon's words.

        It's a fundamental difference in world view. It's direct experience (Potaka) versus glib slogan (Luxon). One gets it, the other doesn't care.

      • observer 6.1.2

        This is not going to get a standing ovation – or even a nod of recognition – at a National/ACT conference:

        We have to have a space where identity and society and whanaungatanga are foundation stones for a successful economy. Or you can say, actually, it’s not about the economy. It’s about our planet and society — and the planet and society constitute what are really important.

        The economy is a means to enable a better place, but it’s not an endpoint in and of itself. You’ve got to have commercial, environmental, social and cultural touchpoints to create a sustainable community and planet.

  7. Peter 7

    14-15,000 voted compared to 40,000 in 2020.

    • RedLogix 8.1

      What I am seeing is ACT on 10.1% – which is close to their recent polling nationwide. That suggests that despite the low turnout this by-election is probably not too far away from a General Election.

      Nat+ACT would wind up with a 56% bloc. A dominating position.

      Notably there is no Green Party candidate here so combining the Lab and NZMP vote the left would have a 38% bloc. Which again lines up with general polling which have Lab+Grn at about the same number. I do not get the sense the numbers here are outliers.

      It is going take more than a few tweaks and window dressing to recover from this. There really is only a 6 – 8 month window of opportunity left.

      • Mike the Lefty 8.1.1

        The result doesn't surprise me, I expected the National candidate would win. But the low turnout does surprise me. With all the heat being poured on the government at the moment from the official opposition and the nutters opposition you might have expected a large turnout to "give a message to the government". It didn't really happen. National can claim victory, but it is far from a stunning victory and consequently Chris Luxon's leadership is still under question. And where was NZ First? If Winston is serious about making a comeback I would have thought this is where it would have started.

        • Alan

          I would think that a 33% swing against the government is fairly clear message.

          • Mike the Lefty

            To try and make meaningful analyses on such a low turnout I think is stretching credibility a bit. The fact was that despite the dirty politics and right wing bile the turnout was pathetically low. The fairly clear message here is that people weren't particularly interested in this by-election, even the media were pretty indifferent to it. Of course the fact that no result would have made any tangible difference to the government probably paid a part too.

            • Belladonna

              I think that (regardless of the turnout figures) the fact that the results reflected pretty closely the current nation-wide polling figures – in what has always been a bellwether seat – should give Labour very much cause for concern.

              I agree, that only the politically committed (I mean the people who vote out of overwhelming political conviction, as well as those who vote out of civic duty) voted – hence the low turnout.

              The remainder of the electorate (who are likely to vote in the general election – setting aside the terminally uninterested) – appear to be split fairly evenly across the political spectrum – so are unlikely to change the ratios much.

              This result will, no doubt, fuel the changes in policies that Ardern has already signalled for the new year.


              She has to do something substantial, or Labour will be sleepwalking into opposition in 2023.

              • barry

                It seems to be "a plague on all of their houses" People may not be enamoured of the government, but not many could bother to turn out to vote against them.

                Based on this result I think next year's election is wide open. More bad economic news will probably sink Labour, but if inflation slows (which is likely with the higher dollar) and housing stats improve (lower house prices can be a winner), then I think Labour can pick up support.

          • joe90

            I would think that a 33% swing against the government is fairly clear message.

            Yeah, astonishingly Labour polled at the same level they polled at in 2017 in an electorate National won in 2017, 2014, 2011 and 2008.


        • Thinker
          1. Swing to National could have been predicted

          2. Low turnout is a vote against people's expectations that any government will put their needs first, imho. It suggests people are unhappy with the calibre of government of all colours.

          3. Where was Winston? You are correct in thinking this would have been a Pandoras box for NZ1. Having a seat in government going into the election would have given more credibility to them on election day. So, either they didn't fancy their chances of polling like a mainstream party, they haven't got a groomed, credible candidate for the seat yet, their campaign chest needs careful management going into 2023, or they helped one or another party's chances by staying away. IMHO, anyway. I can't think of other reasons.

          • Belladonna

            I'm quite sure Winston had a good hard look at H West – and decided that there was no chance of taking it.
            Their only option would have been to put him in (no one else would have a snowball's chance) – and he has zero connection with the area (and is very probably unwilling to develop any – moving there, for example).

            Winston doesn't waste money on campaigning in un-winnable electorates.

            And, while a seat would have given NZF a better platform for 2023 – losing the campaign would probably have done more damage to his chances.

          • Anne

            Low turnout is a vote against people's expectations that any government will put their needs first, imho.

            Given its close proximity to Xmas (two weeks prior) I think it was inevitable. Who in their right mind thinks about politics at this time of the year? Addicts like us that's who. 😉

        • coge

          I suspect the low turnout could extend into next year's election. There is a vast bloc of voters who feel they haven't been represented fairly by any of the incumbent elected parties and candidates. If somehow they can be convinced to participate, we might be in for a few surprises.

    • Christopher Randal 8.2

      A turnout of 14,000 in an electorate of ~49,000.

      Wow – that's getting into Local Government election territory

      • swordfish 8.2.1


        New Zealand Election Study flow-of-the-vote stats (over the decades) suggest when Labour voters are disillusioned with their Party they tend to move into non-voting … whereas disenchanted Nats are much more likely to swing to other parties.

        Does the low turnout in HW presage traditional Labour voters staying home on Election Day next year ? … hard to be sure but maybe.

  8. Mike the Lefty 9

    The nutters party (Vision NZ) must obviously have a big support base to gain a whopping 57 votes!

    Just wait for the claims that they actually won and it was Jacinda who changed the numbers.

  9. tsmithfield 10

    I think the big problem for Labour from now is how to turn this around.

    Big spending promises are really off the table because they are inflationary by nature, and inflation is the problem at the moment. And, there has already been a glut of borrowing and spending, and the evidence of that in terms of inflation is there for all to see.

    I think voters are likely to be looking for a bit more in the way of austerity and reprioritising spending this time around in order to bring the economy back under control. And these are both areas that Labour traditionally would struggle with, I would think.

    • Craig H 10.1

      Reworking the tax system, or brackets at least, would be popular and not necessarily inflationary if it was done to be revenue-neutral.

      • tsmithfield 10.1.1

        Agreed. And that would gazumpt National. At tax bracket change would not be immediately inflationary because it would take quite awhile to have an effect.

        But it would be against character for Labour to start cutting taxes…

      • MickeyBoyle 10.1.2

        That's literally Nationals policy.

        If the only way to win is to do what National are planning to do, then what the hell is the point?

        Taxes should be increased, not reduced.

        • Gosman

          I would love it if Labour raised taxes. It would confirm the end of them being in government.

        • Craig H

          Who pays the tax and what taxes are paid could be rebalanced significantly while still being fiscally/revenue neutral.

          National has one proposal, but there are plenty of other options e.g. TOP is proposing significant changes.

          A simple example could be a 0-tax threshold. Another could be a decrease in GST. As part of raising additional tax to pay for either of those, a proposal could include increasing the top income tax brackets and introducing new taxes e.g. inheritance, land etc.

    • Sacha 10.2

      Public spending on the wrong things is inflationary. However Robertson is not brave so your prayers will be answered.

  10. Corey Humm 11

    Tsmithfield. There's loads of non inflationary and targeted spending options available to the government that don't put money into the economy.

    Kiwis themselves actually have cut spending down , appearing to have listened to the RBNZ governor. I've long said the govt should handle the economic crisis like they did any other crisis with regular but not daily public briefings in plain language speaking directly to the public and a bit of the old come together to fight xyz propaganda.

    Every Labour mp and supporter will tell you they messed up their coms badly this year, instead of the short one sentence answers they were famous for answers were usually long drawn out monologues or cagey non answers.

    Govts rarely win by elections in swing seats, so it's no surprise Labour lost this, however Labour needs to fight and hard.

    Yesterday I was at a labour mps Xmas party with many mps present (I know how am I allowed in these things) they'll all concede this was a bad year and that next year is going to be a real grueling fight but I truly believe they are up for it.

    I think labour got a bit arrogant and thought they couldn't lose, they seem to have eaten a lot of humble pie and are ready for a fight.

    I personally think they can win if they really fight to win the public back.

    Time will tell but here's hoping the left can get it's shit together, the last thing NZ needs is an economic agenda driven by the act party.

    • Anker 11.1

      Interesting Corey.

      Unfortunately for me, the Labour MPs you speak of believe they can turn it around have missed the point.

      For me they are like the boyfriend who hasn't listened, who indeed has treated me with contempt when I raised real issues. The boyfriend who continued with wasteful spending even though I said wait, we don't need more debt, stop spending on items that are non essential we need to find the most practical way of spending on things which will get us what we need.

      Now that said boyfriend realizes he is under threat of being ditched, he will do whatever it takes to win me back. Sorry. Too late. Your attempts to change when you are on the brink of being dumped, only show how self serving you are.

      • Tony Veitch 11.1.1

        And you seriously think boyfriend Christopher will treat you better?

        Then you must be one of the 1% or their 9% enablers, for he sure as hell has no empathy for bottom-feeders.

        I think you are going to be unlucky in love – again!

        • Peter

          Ah, but it's the boyfriend who comes up with the notion of housing people in motels, a really clever bugger. One who has the Midas touch (with the gift of the gab I'll grant you), as shown by magically turning a terrible 'housing crisis' into a wonderful 'Comprehensive Housing Plan.'

        • Anker

          Ha ha well played Tony Veitch.

          Who said I was going to take up with boyfriend Christopher? There's quite a field on offer and I could also go boyfriendless and just look after my own situation.

          My mother would have said to me, "Anker, you know what he's (Labour) like so don't settle. Even if friends tell you the other fish in the sea might not be too hot. When he (Labour) has let you down and shown himself to be a pretty useless boyfriend, who won't listen and treat's you with contempt, time to move on"

          I may consider a temporary liaison with boyfriend National, knowing its a means to an end to get rid of boyfriend Labour, but would go into it with no expectations.

          C'st la vie

          • Louis

            Your mother could have said to you, "Anker, you know what he's (National) is like, he has form, so don't settle and don't forget how many times he (National) has let you down and as it turned out, after arrogantly and contemptuously telling everyone else how useless they are, showed himself up to be the useless one and that he (National) is all talk and no action.

            So don't forget the history son, why court his (National) broken promises and heartbreak? He (National) will leave you shattered, empty and hollow like last time.

            • Anker

              Ha, ha. Who would have thought the Standard would have veered into so much dating advice!

              • Tony Veitch

                More dating advice – stay a barge pole away from David as a boyfriend.

                As your mother might say, 'Daughter, he's got some wacky ideas from the last century. He'll cause you more grief than he's worth!'

                Your present boyfriend may not be perfect (what man is?) but his heart's in the right place, more so than anyone else you're flirting with.

                No charge for this advice!

                • Anker

                  Thanks Tony V. Nice to have some light hearted banter.

                  “Heart in the right place” always seems to me to be one of those things you say about someone who is misguided and/or hopelessly incompetent

                  • Robert Guyton

                    You're giving off a strong "scorned" vibe, Anker!

                  • Tony Veitch

                    While not conceding that your current boyfriend is misguided or hopeless, I think I might prefer that to malignant animosity and lack of empathy which some of the other potential boyfriend display towards bottom-feeders.

                    Choose the wrong boyfriend and you might find yourself being belaboured by a wooden bed-leg in the middle of the night! (metaphorically speaking!)

                    • Anker

                      Swordfish made a comment below that when Labour voters don't vote Labour they stay away from the polls. Less so for National voters.

                      I have come to the realisation over the last 18 months, that I did chose the wrong boyfriend, Labour.

                    • Robert Guyton

                      Given your old flame the flick , Anker?

                      Why then, do you persist here?

                      Running down your ex seems … unnecessary.

      • Remember Christopher Luxon is not a romantic Anker, and he doesn't rate anyone less rich than him.

        • Anker

          Ha ha Patricia.

          I think it is unfair to say that Luxon isn't looking for romance. He seems to be very romantically involved with himself and his own vanity project of becoming PM.

    • Louis 11.2

      Even the PM has acknowledged that comms have been bad, but "a bit arrogant and thought they couldn't lose" nah I'm not seeing that at all.

    • tsmithfield 11.3

      I agree there are things they could do that are not inflationary. The tax reduction on fuel prices for instance was a move I applauded at the time. It takes the pressure off inflation, and I am sure is a popular policy with voters.

      From the government's perspective, though, they have painted themselves into a corner with this policy. I suspect they would like to reverse the policy, but that would feed back into inflation, and certainly would not be a good vote winner in election year.

    • I hope you are right Corey, for all our sakes.

  11. Ad 12

    I have zero respect for the person who resigned to cause this by-election. It has been a stupid waste of taxpayer money. No citizen has been served by it, other than just the one who won the election itself.

    • AB 12.1

      Candidate selection processes need to specifically look for and exclude the self-aggrandising, the paranoid, and anyone with a Messiah complex. Problem is that such a thing is difficult, and ironically, the better such a filter becomes, the more likely it is to mean that no-one is left.

      • swordfish 12.1.1


        Candidate selection processes need to specifically look for and exclude the self-aggrandising, the paranoid, and anyone with a Messiah complex.

        Precisely the qualifications selection panels prize most.

    • Anker 12.2

      Agree Ad. We are desperately short of Drs. I hope he goes back to that.

      And before anyone says "well I wouldn't want him as my Dr" I would say you may not have too much choice. See him or no one

      • Belladonna 12.2.1

        For that matter, I wouldn't have the faintest idea of the political party my GP supports (if any), or any other information about her political views. Nor would I expect to. Our conversations are strictly medical in nature – as they should be….

    • observer 12.3

      Agreed, totally unnecessary and pure self-indulgence.

      The one plus is that Sharma's deluded Facebook posts will no longer make the news. "Current MP says shit" is a headline, because s/he is in Parliament. "Brendan Horan* says shit" is not.

      (*Brendan who? Well, exactly).

  12. Tiger Mountain 13

    And the winner… (of the petulance, self aggrandisement, entitlement & party undermining Award) is…Gaurav Sharma!

    Losers…almost everyone else

    Various Parliamentary parties have made selection mistakes of course, in unlikely to win seats, or lowly list placings…but this one by NZ Labour was a classic, I guess at least Mr Sharma did not beat a defenceless teen with wooden bed legs…

    • ianmac 13.1

      It was reported that Sharma visited the winners quarters to congratulate Potaka, and when he entered he was greeted with applause by the Nats assembly. Wonder what that meant?

      • Tiger Mountain 13.1.1

        Mr Sharma seemed to be on some sort of revenge driven “last chance power drive” quest, and his role as a useful tool for the Natzos has now been fulfilled.

      • Incognito 13.1.2

        Quite possibly, Sharma’s political career is not over yet.

  13. Anne 14

    Saying "thank you" to him for being an a******e and resigning so they could grab the seat off Labour… who were more than happy to relinquish it and be rid of the petulant, self centred, entitled, party undermining dipshit. 🙂

  14. observer 15

    Before everyone forgets about Sharma (and we soon will), a reminder that many media voices, and indeed some people commenting on this blog, insisted that there would have been no issue if only Labour had held a magical "independent inquiry". Then Jacinda would have said sorry and Kieran would have been sacked and everyone would have had respect for misunderstood whistle-blowing victim/hero Gaurav. He only wanted to stop bullying and do what was best for everyone.

    Given all that's happened since, there is no longer any doubt about the stupidity of that take. It's amazing how many fell for it – or rather, pretended to.

    • Incognito 15.1

      The Left likes to point the finger up, the Right points the finger down, but finger pointing is what many people do almost instinctively (it is learned conditioned behaviour, of course) with gusto.

      • Anne 15.1.1

        Yeah… but its an easy way to either agree or disagree without having to put any effort into it. 😉

  15. Ffloyd 16

    I have wondered, now that bed legs have been mentioned, why it is that Cluckson has refused to release the findings of the review on the actions of Uffendull in his formative years, you know, when he and other like minded non thinking Neanderthals decided to, you know, terrorise a much younger school pupil with wooden bed legs, you know, just a jape. WHY? Because they could. They knew there would be minimum repercussions. PRIVILEGE. Nasty young thugs. Looking at him now does not inspire any great thoughts of redemption and humility. He will do as he is told. Bought and paid for. This new guy for Ham West. Chasing cars. You have to be kidding me.

    • Barfly 16.1

      Being a Nat MP he is probably chasing parked cars

    • Gosman 16.2

      You can demand the report all you like but it is essentially yesterday's news and the public is interested.

      • Tony Veitch 16.2.1

        and the public is interested.

        I completely agree Gossie! The sooner Luxon comes clean, the better – but I'm not holding my breath!

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