New Zealand election 2023: right-leaning coalition poised to form government after Labour swept from power – as it happened

Last modified: 11: 32 AM GMT+0

Closing summary

That’s it from us on the Guardian’s live blog tonight, thank you very much for joining us. You can read the full story here and below is a round-up of the night’s key developments:

  • After a night described as a “bloodbath” for the Labour government, prime minister Chris Hipkins conceded that his party lost the election. “As it stands Labour is not in a position to form another government,” he told supporters at the party HQ.

  • Centre-right National party leader Christopher Luxon said he would form the next government with the libertarian Act party.

  • With 96.5% of votes counted, National had 39.12% of the vote and 50 seats. Together with Act’s 11 seats (9.04%) that takes it to the 61 seats required to form a government. The left-leaning bloc of Labour (26.74%, 34 seats), the Green party (10.74%, 14 seats) and Te Pāti Māori (2.58%, 4 seats).

  • However, due to the success of Te Pāti Māori and New Zealand’s electoral system, another couple of seats could be added to parliament, meaning that National and Act will need NZ First’s support. In his victory speech, Luxon was careful to thank NZ First leader Winston Peters for his offer of help.

  • Former prime minister Jacinda Ardern’s seat hung in the balance, with Labour party candidate Helen White just 100 votes ahead of her National rival Melissa Lee with 96.3% of the vote counted.

  • Foreign minister Nanaia Mahuta, parliament’s longest serving female MP, lost her seat to Te Pāti Māori’s Hana-Rawhiti Maipi Clarke, who will now become the country’s youngest MP since 1853.

A closing line from Serena Solomon in Auckland:

Someone turned the lights up here at National’s election party so that’s always a sign that the night is coming to an end. After speaking with media, Luxon went to a back room where his core team, MPs and candidates gave him a cheer.

Servers are busy picking up wine glasses (a few broken). Projector screens are coming down. Camera crews are packing up. What a night for National.

Who turned the lights up? Party is over although about a hundred National supporters are in denial about that. pic.twitter.com/XexxwP0uEi

— Serena Solomon (@serenaspeaks) October 14, 2023

Updated

National cements victory with 96.5% of vote counted

With 96.5% of the votes counted, the right-leaning coalition led by National has cemented its position to form a government, with 61 combined seats, versus the left’s 52. A total of 61 seats is required to form a government.

National 39.12% (50 seats)

Labour 26.74% (34 seats)

Green party 10.74% (14 seats)

Act 9.04% (11 seats)

New Zealand First 6.46% (8 seats)

Te Pāti Māori 2.58% (4 seats)

On the other end of stage, Chris Luxon’s wife Amanda is also being interviewed by a TV station and is surrounded by probably a bigger crowd than what is around Luxon, Serena Solomon reports.

A new star is born?

The Luxon family from left to right: daughter Olivia Luxon, Christopher Luxon, Amanda Luxon and son William Luxon at the National party HQ on election night.
The Luxon family from left to right: daughter Olivia Luxon, Christopher Luxon, Amanda Luxon and son William Luxon at the National party HQ on election night. Photograph: Aaron Gillions/Shutterstock

New Zealand’s youngest MP since 1853, Hana-Rawhiti Maipi-Clarke, has told RNZ she is “speechless” after unseating former foreign minister Nanaia Mahuta.

Asked how her victory she felt, she replied: “Overwhelming, overstimulating, grateful”. She said she had spoken to Mahuta and it had been a “heartbreaking call” as Mahuta was such an inspiration to her.

“I’m very grateful to our whānua”, she said adding that she believed it to be the biggest youth turnout ever.

After Luxon left the stage, there were chants from pockets of people: “We won” and “back on track”, the party’s election slogan, Serena Solomon reports. A few people have converged on the stage to take selfies where Luxon just made his speech.

Luxon is doing media interviews in a circle of reporters who are again circled by supporters trying to take photos.

Incoming prime minister Christopher Luxon said it looked like National and Act could govern together but was careful to not guarantee that, Henry Cooke writes:

He was right to – there is a decent chance he will need NZ First, either to govern or just to give himself some safety space.

National’s vote has softened as more booths have returned in the last hour or so. Currently the two parties are on 61 seats - you need 61 to govern. They can bank another likely win in the Port Waikato by-election, so 62 seats in a 121 seat parliament. That would be safe, just, but they would need to get a speaker from somewhere else.

Then you add in Te Pāti Māori’s performance, which means we could have a 122 to 124 seat parliament, meaning you would need a slightly larger majority. Then there’s the fact the special vote is yet to be counted, and often gives another seat to the left.

That all adds up to needing Winston Peters.

A bit more from Luxon’s speech, courtesy of Serena Solomon, who’s there at National’s HQ. She writes:

He called the campaign “long and negative” but added that the outcome meant that National will “be welcoming many new MPs” to parliament.

He spoke to prime minister Chris Hipkins earlier by phone and thanked Hipkins for his service to the country as prime minister. “It is obviously a tough night for Labour and I want to acknowledge that,” said Luxon.

Luxon also congratulated Act on its results as well as New Zealand First while acknowledging Winston Peter’s offer of help earlier in the night to form New Zealand’s next government.

“We have splashed blue across the country.”

Luxon is very keen to emphasise how he wants to bring the country together, mentioning that people should be able to get ahead no matter their ethnicity or for how long they have lived in New Zealand. He says:

Together we will make this an even better country …

The promise of New Zealand is that if you work hard in the best country on planet earth you should be able to get ahead … what unites us is what matters most to me …

To all of those who didn’t vote for National, we won’t let you down either.

Luxon pledges to deliver for every New Zealander

Luxon starts by thanking New Zealand. “You have voted for change,” he says.

And I am immensely proud to say that from the numbers tonight National will be in a postion to lead the next government.

My pledge to you is that my government will be able to deliver for every New Zealander.

He says National “will bring down the cost of living, restore law and order, we will deliver better health care and we will educate our children so that they can live the lives that they dream of.”

Updated

Chris Luxon is taking the stage at National headquarters

And just to go back to Chris Hipkins’, who we discovered has a new partner.

“I want to thank, tonight, someone that most of you won’t know, my partner Toni. Being prime minister is not the only special thing that has happened for me this year,” he said.

NZ PM Chris Hipkins in loses election but finds love plot twist!!

— Ben McKay (@benmackey) October 14, 2023

Updated

Luxon has arrived at National party headquarters in a “blistering blue tie”, RNZ reports.

Updated

The obvious question for Chris Hipkins now is whether he stays on as leader, writes Henry Cooke.

Speaking to Newshub he didn’t quite say whether he was going or staying – he said he had talked to colleagues and no one wanted to rush anything. Quite a difference from the last time a Labour PM lost – Helen Clark resigned right on the night in 2008.

At that point of course she had been leader for well over a decade. Hipkins hasn’t even led the party for a year. And there are fewer senior people really eager to take over than there were in 2008.

Updated

National maintains strong lead with 86.5% of votes counted

With 86.5% of the votes counted, a right-leaning coalition is in position to form a government, with 62 combined seats, versus the left’s 51, Charlotte Graham-McLay reports. A total of 61 seats is required to form a government.

Centre-right National is still firmly leading centre-left Labour.

National 39.55% (50 seats)

Labour 26.53% (34 seats)

Green party 10.62% (13 seats)

Act 9.12% (12 seats)

New Zealand First 6.42% (8 seats)

Te Pāti Māori 2.54% (4 seats)

New Zealand Labour leader Chris Hipkins has conceded that his party has lost the election, after a surge in support for the centre-right National party delivered what analysts described as a “bloodbath” for the government, Eva Corlett writes in our full report on tonight’s events.

Speaking at an election night event in Wellington, Hipkins - who became Labour leader in January after Jacinda Ardern’s surprise resignation – said he had called the opposition leader Christopher Luxon to congratulate him on the results.

“As it stands Labour is not in a position to form another government,” he said. “The result is not one any of us wanted.”

New Zealand’s election results on Saturday showed a drastic swing to the right, with a coalition of the centre-right National and libertarian Act parties on the edge of drawing enough support to govern. The only remaining question was whether would be forced to bring a third party – populist New Zealand First – into their governing deal.

Read on here:

A bit more on the significance of Nanaia Mahuta’s loss and the general gains seen by Te Pāti Māori from Lamia Imam:

It is clear that the Māori electorates are also vying for change but not necessarily a change in government but rather a change in how Māori issues are handled in government.

Co-governance was a major issue this election and it seems Māori voters don’t trust Labour to be able to message this adequately and are shifting their support to Te Pāti Māori who are more confident in their position on these issues.

The general shift from Labour to Te Pāti Māori in not just this electorate has also the potential to create an overhang which might stop National and Act from forming a government without NZ First.

So while we won’t see Labour return to government, there is still some uncertainty as to what the National government will actually look like and that is because of the Māori electorates.

Luxon on his way to National party headquarters

It’s getting feverish here at National HQ, writes Serena Solomon. People are lining up along a walkway that has acted as a red carpet of sorts for arriving MPs, candidates and dignitaries. The pinnacle will of course be Christopher Luxon.

And he is now on his way.

People are hustling for the best spot for when Christopher Luxon arrives shortly. pic.twitter.com/JDuIKUkXAO

— Serena Solomon (@serenaspeaks) October 14, 2023

Updated

A bit more from Henry Cooke on Nanaia Mahuta – Labour’s longest continously serving MP and the longest-serving female MP in Parliament:

Mahuta seems to lost the seat of Hauraki Waikato to a candidate who wasn’t even born when she first entered parliament in 1996.

Mahuta is New Zealand’s foreign minister and has held this seat or its precedent since 1999. Her loss to Te Paati Māori’s Hana-Rawhiti Maipi Clarke, who is just 21, will be a massive blow to Labour’s Māori caucus.

I’ve seen conflicting reports about whether she has actually conceded yet but the margin right now makes a victory impossible.

There was a cheer when Chris Hipkins conceded but to be honest, it was far from the loudest of the night at National’s election night party, Serena Solomon reports from National HQ.

National have been partying victoriously for a few hours now so this felt like old news.

After the concession, people yelled out “Shut up.” Some booed when he listed of Labour’s achievements in the last six years. The newscast feed cut out for a few seconds and people cheered. But mostly, people went back to their conversations and drinks.

Now, we wait for Luxon to arrive.

The celebration at National’s party was underwhelming when PM Chris Hopkins conceded. It was as though they already knew they had won… pic.twitter.com/X5InWhjIl7

— Serena Solomon (@serenaspeaks) October 14, 2023

Hipkins has broken down in tears thanking his family. “For everything you have done for me...” he said as he choked up. Another chant of “Chippy” and round of applause has broken out in support.

Hipkins, on replacing the former prime minister Jacinda Ardern in January:

It was going to be an uphill battle. No government has replaced a prime minister in an election year and gone on to win.”

Chris Hipkins arrives for the Labour Party election event
Chris Hipkins arrives for the Labour Party election event Photograph: Marty Melville/AFP/Getty Images

Updated

A bit more from Charlotte Graham-McLay at Labour HQ. She writes:

Hipkins is speaking of what he believes is his government’s legacy.

“We sought to bring people together – to unite, not divide. We moved towards better honouring of the Treaty,” he said, referring to New Zealand’s founding document.

Acknowledging the natural disasters, terrorist attack and pandemic that marred his government’s term, Hipkins said: “I honestly think that the gods rounded up curveballs to throw at us.”

“We lived our values and I believe New Zealand is a better place for that ... We put people first ... We refused to leave people behind ... That is what the Labour party does.”

His remarks are being met with “yes”es and applause.

There was a shocked silence when Hipkins opened his speech by conceding, Charlotte Graham-McLay reports from Labour HQ. “Ooh,” said one woman near me, in the quiet.

Labour not in a position to form another government, Chris Hipkins says

Chris Hipkins has begun speaking at his party’s headquarters and has congratulated Christopher Luxon on National’s results. He said:

We have run the biggest ground campaign, knocking on doors and calling people on phones, that we have ever run …

Unfortunately the results tonight show that that wasn’t enough.

Earlier this evening I called Christopher Luxon to congratulate him on National’s results …

Labour is not in a position to form another government.

Foreign minister Nanaia Mahuta concedes

Foreign minister Nanaia Mahuta has conceded, RNZ is reporting. She has lost the seat she has held since 1999 to Te Pāti Māori’s Hana-Rawhiti Maipi Clarke.

Updated

It’s pretty clear that Christopher Luxon will be prime minister, but not yet certain that he won’t need NZ First, Henry Cooke says.

The party vote has softened for National a bit in the last hour or so, from around 41.9% to 40.2%. They could easily slip under 40% once the special vote comes – that combined with the overhang (see earlier post) could mean the National-Act majority isn’t quite there or is so slim they don’t have the numbers to put forward a speaker from their own party.

The party vote for National has held steady in the 40s throughout the night which will be a surprise for them and a huge disappointment for Labour, Lamia Imam writes.

It seems Labour expected this election to be close based on polling and did not put in the work on ground to lock in the votes.

It might be because compared to National they did not have nearly as many funds nor did they have any big ticket policies that appealed to a broad audience.

Labour will be focused on the large number of MPs who will have lost out but the real losers of this election are going to be beneficiaries, low income families, public servants, young people wanting to buy their first homes, and those with illnesses requiring regular prescriptions.

Act leader David Seymour has arrived at his party’s headquarters, and is giving a speech. He said:

I’ve long said that getting elected is not an achievement it’s an opportunity to do good ... For all of those people who wonder what the future will hold ... it’s a future of real change … we believe that each person has a right to make a difference in their own lives.

Updated

National firmly in lead with 64.4% of votes counted

With 64.4% of the votes counted, a rightwing coalition is still in a position to form a government, with 63 combined seats, versus the left’s 51, Charlotte Graham-McLay reports. A total of 61 seats is required to form a government.

Centre-right National is still firmly leading centre-left Labour.

National 40.61% (51 seats)

Labour 26.16% (33 seats)

Green party 10.35% (13 seats)

Act 9.24% (12 seats)

New Zealand First 6.28% (8 seats)

Te Pāti Māori 2.50% (5 seats)

Snap analysis: great night for National – but they may yet need NZ First

It’s a great night for National so far, writes Henry Cooke. But there is a reasonable chance that they still need NZ First once the special votes comes in (in November!) and we deal with the “overhang” from Te Pāti Māori (TPM) winning so many seats.

Basically, TPM look likely to win more electorate seats than their party vote total would entitle them to in a purely proportional parliament. To deal with this, MMP creates an “overhang” – meaning in addition to the usual 120 seats there could be another few seats, so 122 or 123 seats. The upcoming by-election in Port Waikato will create another one.

This leaves us with 124 seats in parliament, meaning you need 63 seats to govern instead of 61.

National and Act would get there on the results right now plus the likely win in Port Waikato, but with a bit of a drop off in the special votes (which usually give one or two seats to the left) they would need to call NZ First up. That isn’t quite the most likely result right now, but it is definitely possible.

Updated

No smiles from Hipkins as he gets into the car to head to Labour HQ

— Jo Moir (@jo_moir) October 14, 2023

Another update from Serena Solomon at National HQ:

Rima Nakhle just walked past, flanked by her supporters waving blue flags and chanting “We won.” Nakhle is National’s candidate for Takanini and looks to be pulling off “one of several surprises” of the night, said pollster and political blogger David Farrar.

She is clocking over 11,000 votes compared to incumbent Dr Anae Neru Leavasa, who is under 6,000 with 45% counted.

Nakhle echoed what a lot of people are saying that the polls didn’t capture the level of hunger for political change. She said this:

So many of us have been door-knocking for a very long time and we know what we are hearing on the doorsteps. I’ve said to people, just in the last few weeks, please, “Wait two weeks before you make that move to Australia.”

Many Kiwis have moved across the ditch for higher-paying jobs and cheaper living expenses. For example, Stuff reported that in the first quarter of the year about 31,000 more New Zealanders left for Australia than Australians moved to New Zealand.

Rima Nakhle is greeted by MP Melissa Lee. Both might deliver upsets for National in the electoral seats they have been campaigning for. pic.twitter.com/UllemQBb97

— Serena Solomon (@serenaspeaks) October 14, 2023

Labour are doing so badly in so many safe electorates that some of their senior MPs in less safe electorates or list-only are actually safer than they would otherwise be, Henry Cooke says.

With a party result this bad it is quite easy to lose some real heavy hitters on the list, as the party’s smaller allocation of parliament is taken up by electorate winners in safe seats, some of whom might be quite junior.

But Labour’s array of losses mean they will have quite a few list MPs – including possible future leader Kieran McAnulty who will lose Wairarapa, and list candidates like finance minister Grant Robertson.

Even possible future stars like Camilla Belich look like they could just sneak in on the list.

National party maintains strong lead with more than 50% of vote counted

With 54.8% of the votes counted, the centre-right National party is still well ahead, Eva Corlett reports.

National’s projected seats are 51.

Labour’s projected seats are 33.

National 41.02%

Labour 26.02%

Green party 10.37%

Act 9.25%

New Zealand First 6.18%

Te Pāti Māori 2.52%

Winston Peters says his doubters are 'not laughing now'

Winston Peters, the leader of the populist minor party New Zealand First, has spoken to supporters in the Northland town Russell, Eva Corlett reports.

“When New Zealand First said a few years ago that we were going to make a comeback, they all laughed at us – they’re not laughing now are they?”

After thanking his staff and voters, he goes on to say that within democracies, elected officials must be held to account.

“Our purpose is to keep them honest, and to raise the roof when others won’t raise a finger,” Peters said.

Before being ejected from parliament in 2020 with a dismal election result, NZ First had three times before held the balance of power after elections, twice propelling Labour into government, and once choosing National.

Opinion polls in the lead up to this election had the party once again in the kingmaker position. With half the votes counted, and the centre-right National Party apparently in a position to comfortably form a government with its preferred coalition partner – Act – it remains to be seen whether NZ First will hold the balance of power again.

At Labour HQ, Charlotte Graham-McLay has just spoken to Leigh-Marama McLachlan, a correspondent for the TV show Marae, and a past columnist for the Guardian on Māori affairs. McLachlan said:

It’s not a surprise that the Māori Party have made some gains in the Māori electorates, most of the people standing for Te Pāti Māori this time around stood last time around. There’s a huge difference though, in how far they’ve come this time, leading on six of the seven seats at the moment.

This will be really upsetting to Labour. Some of the Labour party candidates in these seats are Labour MPs and have held these seats for a long time – some of them are in cabinet, and they’re being ousted by newcomer, grassroots Māori Party candidates. It’s a real sign of Māori dissatisfaction towards Labour – but they’re not going to go out and vote for National.

This is going to be pretty embarrassing for Labour, people who are huge names in Māori politics getting ousted. The Māori party have taken an unapologetically Māori stance, and read the pulse of Māori across Aotearoa: they want change.

Updated

An update on former cabinet minister Michael Wood, who had to resign as a minister in June over his failure to properly declare shares.

I think safe to call now - Labour will lost Mt Roskill for the first time in the seat's history. Wood had a 14k majority at the last election. pic.twitter.com/lW0pC2VB3F

— henry cooke (@henrycooke) October 14, 2023

Updated

Some scenes from the National party event in Auckland:

Supporters of New Zealand's centre-right National Party react to first election results
Supporters of New Zealand's centre-right National Party react to first election results Photograph: Dom Thomas/EPA
National Party supporters
National Party supporters Photograph: Dom Thomas/EPA

An update from Charlotte Graham-McLay in Lower Hutt:

Labour HQ is filling up; prime minister Chris Hipkins is yet to arrive though.

People are trying to get into the spirit by cheering each time a Labour candidate pulls slightly ahead in a close race. Not a lot of MPs here yet – most of the attendees I’ve spoken to are the grassroots, door-knocking volunteers.

Labour New Zealand election HQ party

With 40% of the votes counted for Auckland Central, the incumbent MP Green party’s Chlöe Swarbrick looks to be holding on to her seat, Eva Corlett reports.

Before a crowd of party-faithfuls cheering her name, Swarbrick yelled “we did this”.

We work absolutely every single day to earn the trust and the privilege of representing our communities,” she said.

“Campaigns are a manifestation of hope, they are a movement to achieve all the things that all of us so deeply and profoundly believe in and they don’t end here.”

Green Party Candidate for Auckland Chloe Swarbrick
Green Party Candidate for Auckland Chloe Swarbrick Photograph: Phil Walter/Getty Images

Updated

Te Pāti Māori candidates are leading in all six of the Māori electorates, Eva Corlett reports.

Morgan Godfery, a senior lecturer at the University of Otago and political columnist, told TVNZ the surge in support for the party in the Māori seats could have a significant impact on the election results.

For them to win six seats, seemingly out of the blue ... is incredible and it will be crucial to how the government forms over the next few weeks.

If Te Pāti Māori has an overhang which is large enough to deprive National and Act of a majority, then [the election] could depend on Winston Peters.

Snap analysis – it's an absolute nightmare result for Labour

Taking a step back we’re looking at a bloodbath for the Labour Party, both in the party vote and in many “safe” seats, writes Henry Cooke.

Labour’s overall party vote seems to have roughly halved in the last three years, winning about a quarter of the vote instead of half.

And you can see this absolute nightmare for Labour in a lot of seats across the country, where they have been squeezed from the left and right.

In several Auckland safe seats Labour are behind National after the Greens ran a fairly strong campaign in some of the seats – and National did very well. In Wellington the Greens are ahead in both Wellington Central and Rongotai – probably by enough to win in Wellington Central. And in the Māori seats Te Paati Māori are looking to pick up five or six of the seven seats.

What caused this? That will be picked over for the new few months and years. Labour seems to have pleased very few people with what it did with its huge majority last time.

The issues for the party were both ones of ideology and competence – with competence possibly being the main thing they lost on. And to be fair to the party, the overall economic picture of rampant inflation and interest rates hit the swingiest voters the hard.

National managed to win that narrative and convince the country just three years after a huge loss that they were the competent economic managers the country needed.

National establishes firm lead with 40% of vote counted

With 40% of the votes counted, the centre-right National party is still well ahead, Eva Corlett reports.

National’s projected seats are 52.

Labour’s projected seats are 32.

National 41.70%

Labour 25.75%

Green party 10.39%

Act 9.25%

New Zealand First 6.01%

Te Pāti Māori 2.53%

At Labour HQ, lawmaker Ginny Andersen told Charlotte Graham-McLay it was still “early days yet” but that the national-level result was “not a huge surprise.”

Charlotte reports:

In Andersen’s electorate seat, Hutt South (actually where we are right now) she’s trailing by 500 votes, but she said there are two big polling booths yet to count (Queensgate Mall and Wainuiomata, for any Hutt folk tuning in), and she’s hoping for a surge.

“I’ve been there before and won but I’ve also been there before and lost, so it’s hard to say,” Andersen said.

On the national level, she said there were “interesting things going on” with swings to the Greens and Te Pāti Māori and she “wouldn’t be too quick” to call a final result.

Walking past a TV, I heard Andersen’s opponent in Hutt South – National’s Chris Bishop – being interviewed on TVNZ. He said it was “always close in the Hutt” and the race would go close to the wire. “It might be a midnight job,” he added.

Former deputy prime minister Grant Robertson has told 1 News the results so far are “clearly disappointing”, but said he thought the numbers would change over the course of the evening:

“Really most of the vote you are seeing is the advance vote, and reflects the polls as they were during the early part of that voting period.

I do think these numbers will change and shift over the course of the evening.”

Grant Robertson is interviewed during a Labour Party election night event
Grant Robertson is interviewed during a Labour Party election night event Photograph: Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images

Updated

Mark Mitchell, National member for Whangaparāoa, is having a good night, in what looks like an impending landslide victory for him personally, Serena Solomon reports. He is one of the few MPs who have arrived at the National election night party in Auckland.

Like everyone else here, there are a lot of comments along the lines of “all the votes haven’t been counted yet” and “we can’t count our eggs” but he was grinning from ear to ear.

"I have been out on the ground campaigning hard for four, five months... right through the country the mood on the ground was very different than what we’ve seen in the polls,” he said, of early voting results that appear even stronger than the favourable pre-election polls for National.

“This is so far, even this early, this is probably more reflective of what the mood on the ground was.”

Slim pickings so far for MPs at National’s election party but Mark Mitchell has arrived and he has been in back to back interviews. He’s looking pretty chuffed here, I think. pic.twitter.com/B8OnWCoTh9

— Serena Solomon (@serenaspeaks) October 14, 2023

Key developments so far

If you’re just joining us, here are the key developments so far:

  • With a third of votes counted the centre-right National party has established a strong lead, with 53 projected seats to Labour’s 32. In order to form a government, a coalition bloc needs 61 seats.

  • Initial results suggest National may be able to form a government with Act, which is currently on 12 seats, and without NZ First.

  • The results so far are disappointing for Labour. As former cabinet minister Iain Lees-Galloway put it, the party “looks to be losing some electorates they never would have imagined”.

  • Former prime minister Jacinda Ardern’s old seat, Mt Albert, is hanging in the balance, with National party candidate Melissa Lee currently leading Labour party candidate Helen White by a few hundred votes.

Updated

Some images are dropping from the Labour party election night event in Wellington:

Andrew Little arrives for a Labour Party election night event in Wellington
Former Labour leader Andrew Little arrives for a Labour Party election night event in Wellington Photograph: Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images
Candidate for Hutt South, Ginny Andersen, arrives for a Labour Party election night event in Wellington
Candidate for Hutt South, Ginny Andersen, arrives for a Labour Party election night event in Wellington Photograph: Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images

National well ahead with a third of votes counted

With a third of the votes counted (33.2% ) – the centre-right National Party is still well ahead, Eva Corlett reports.

National’s projected seats are 53.

Labour’s projected seats are 32.

National 41.98%

Labour 25.71%

Green party 10.38%

Act 9.21%

New Zealand First 5.94%

Te PātiMāori 2.51%

It seems the electorate doesn’t care whether they will get the $250 tax cut or not and the polls seem to have underestimated the mood for change, Lamia Imam says.

If National are able to form a government with Act and without NZ First, we are likely to see a pretty significant lurch to the right. But it is unclear though, if voters care about the policy impacts but rather they want change for the sake of change.

pet theory, no evidence: the pollsters underestimated the left last time so over-corrected quite a bit, and have now under-estimated the right.

— henry cooke (@henrycooke) October 14, 2023

At Labour HQ, Charlotte Graham-McLay has spoken to the Wellington Central campaign manager for the party, Freddie Dillon. She reports:

That Wellington Central seat was long held by finance minister Grant Robertson, who stood back this election to give a newcomer – first term Labour lawmaker Ibrahim Omer – a shot at it.

Labour expected a simple passing of the baton – but the seat faced a leftwing challenge from Greens newcomer (and Wellington city councillor) Tamatha Paul. With 30.8% of the vote counted, Paul is leading with 7,764 to Omer’s 4,507 – which would be a real upset.

Dillon told me it was still “early votes”, and he believes the result could shift.

“There’s a lot of love for him out there. We’re hopeful,” he said of Omer. “Ibrahim has done everything that he can do. He’s left it all out on the field.”

There seems to be a three way race between the Labour, National, and Greens candidates in Rongotai which could lead to the left votes being split and the National candidate sneaking in, Lamia Imam says.

This is a strong Labour electorate where Julie Anne Genter from the Greens has run a two ticks campaign so it will not only be disappointing for the Labour party but for the left bloc in general.

It’s starting to look a bit like a repeat of 2020 but with National taking traditionally Labour seats less due to a blue wave but more because of a strong Greens showing.

Updated

National party establishes clear lead with 30% of votes counted

With 30% of the votes counted the centre-right National party has a strong lead, Eva Corlett reports.

In order to form a government, the left or right bloc must reach 61 seats.

National’s projected seats are 53.

Labour’s projected seats are 32.

National 42.16%

Labour 25.67%

Green Party 10.29%

Act 9.22%

New Zealand First 5.93%

Te Pāti Māori 2.51%

At Labour HQ in Lower Hutt, it’s not exactly a joyous vibe, although attendees are putting on brave faces, Charlotte Graham-McLay reports; it’s far from the bleak and funereal atmosphere at National’s 2020 election night event, when they were also expected to lose big (and did).

I’ve been chatting to party supporters; one Michael Schraa – a volunteer – said the party was “just getting a bit of a kicking.”

Referring to the Māori seats in parliament – which Labour’s leftwing support partner, Te Pāti Māori is almost sweeping so far, Schraa said there was “a pretty strong swing against the government from the left rather than from the right, which indicates pretty strong anti-government feeling across the board.”

Sarah Royle, another volunteer, said the mood was “still very positive.” She added that Hipkins “really embodies what we’re all about.”

The vibe is starting to build at National’s election night party with a few hundred people here, Serena Solomon reports.

The table you definitely want to be at is the Young Nats. About two dozen of them, mostly university students, are greeting each update with hoots, cheers, whistles, stomps, whatever noise they can make.

Steph Ross, 25, president of the Young Nats, had this to say:

Most of them have been on the campaign trail for most of the year now giving hours of their time to the party ... they are just really passionate about what National offers New Zealand but also changing our government because it goes without saying there is a mood for change in the country.

A few hundred people at National’s election night party. Plenty of noise coming from the Young Nats whenever results are updated. pic.twitter.com/1HzNLsO4iO

— Serena Solomon (@serenaspeaks) October 14, 2023

Labour won all seven Māori seats in 2017 and six of them in 2020 – with a loss in Waiaraki allowing Te Paati Māori (TPM) to slip back into parliament, Henry Cooke writes.

Now (TPM) has used that toehold and is mounting a serious challenge to Labour across all seven. Indeed, (TPM) are ahead in all but one of the Māori seats right now.

Ironically the only seat Labour are ahead in is the one where a long-term Labour MP actually defected earlier this year – Ikaroa-Rāwhiti.

Probably the most striking seat is Hauraki Waikato, where TPM’s Hana-Rawhiti Maipi Clarke looks set to unseat veteran Nanaia Mahuta, New Zealand’s current foreign minister and the MP for that area since 1999.

Some images are coming in from the National party election night event:

Guests arrive to the National Party reception at Shed 10 in Auckland
Guests arrive to the National Party reception at Shed 10 in Auckland Photograph: Dom Thomas/AAP
National Party supporters watch the first election results come in
National Party supporters watch the first election results come in Photograph: Dom Thomas/AAP

National’s pollster David Farrar has told the Herald newspaper that tonight’s results could be the biggest swing against a government since the birth of Labour and National and the two-party system.

It would be the biggest swing in New Zealand two party history since 1938. The biggest swing up till now was 1990-93 where the incumbent government dropped 12 per cent.

But Farrar also said that he thinks the result will change over the course of the night and that National will lose a bit of support as Labour supporting booths begin reporting.

He thinks that National will not have enough support to form a government without NZ First, particularly if special votes go against National as they often do.

National takes clear lead with 25.4% of vote counted

With 25.4% of the votes counted the centre-right National party is comfortably ahead, Eva Corlett reports.

In order to form a government, the left or right bloc must reach 61 seats.

National’s projected seats are 52.

Labour’s projected seats are 33.

National 41.52%

Labour 26.19%

Green Party 10.17%

Act 9.21%

New Zealand First 6.00%

Te Pāti Māori 2.50%

Updated

It looks like Jacinda Ardern’s seat is going to National which is indicative of the thrashing that Labour is taking tonight, says Lamia Imam.

It seems Chris Hipkins’ fight was too little too late and will not make the difference he would have been looking for. I think it’s safe to say that the electorate does not believe they delivered in proportion to the majority mandate they were handed in 2020.

Jacinda Ardern campaigns at Grey Lynn Farmers Market in her Auckland electorate of Mount Albert in 2020
Jacinda Ardern campaigns at Grey Lynn Farmers Market in her Auckland electorate of Mount Albert in 2020 Photograph: Ben Mckay/AAP

Updated

Melissa Lee, the National party candidate for Mt Albert, has arrived at National’s election night party and was promptly swamped by reporters, Serena Solomon reports. Former prime minister Jacinda Ardern occupied the seat of Mt Albert before she resigned at the beginning of the year.

Lee is so far in the lead – albeit by a few hundred votes – over Labour’s Helen White. If Lee turns the seat blue, it will be a huge upset since it has historically been one of Labour’s safest seats. The Greens are also doing well, so potentially siphoning votes away from Labour.

Lee told reporters that she was “optimistic” and “you never know until the final vote is counted.

Melissa Lee, the National Party candidate for Mt Albert

Another bad assessment for Labour from a former Labour cabinet minister:

Early stages etc etc but Labour looks to be losing some electorates they never would have imagined.

— Iain Lees-Galloway (@IainLG) October 14, 2023

Jeremy Rees, executive editor at public broadcaster RNZ, has this to say:

“The surge”. At this stage - and yes there are a lot of votes to be counted, three Ms etc - Labour is staring at one of the most ignominious reversals of electoral fortunes in NZ history.

— JeremyReesnz (@JeremyReesnz) October 14, 2023

Patrick Gower, political journalist and national correspondent for Newshub, has summed up the results so far like this: “Labour are getting destroyed, they are getting beaten up.”

Updated

There aren’t really any bright spots for Labour in the results, Henry Cooke writes.

With about a fifth of the vote counted it looks like National will be able to govern with just Act. And Labour are behind in a bunch of seats usually considered “safe” for them – partly because National are strong, partly because the Green party and Te Paati Māori have run very strongly against them in several seats.

Those close seats they are behind in right now:

Mt Roskill (to National)

Mount Albert (to National)

Wellington Central (to the Greens)

Rongotai (to the Greens)

Tāmaki Makaurau (to Te Paati Māori)

Hauraki-Waikato (to Te Paati Māori)

bloodbath for labour

— henry cooke (@henrycooke) October 14, 2023

National party comfortably ahead with 20% of votes counted

With 20% of the votes counted – roughly half a million – the centre-right National party is comfortably ahead, Eva Corlett reports.

In order to form a government, the left or right bloc must reach 61 seats.

National’s projected seats are 52.

Labour’s projected seats are 33.

National 41.52%

Labour 26.19%

Green party 10.30%

Act 9.17%

New Zealand First 6.10%

Te Pāti Māori 2.42%

A bit more analysis here from Lamia Imam on the numbers so far:

On the current numbers NZ First would have quite a few MPs but not in government which would be hugely disappointing for Winston Peters but his supporters probably won’t care so much as he will make enough trouble on their behalf any way.

Not ruling them out was an extraordinary gamble for Chris Luxon to make but will have paid off because of Labour’s terrible showing so far which is worse than their 2011 result.

Gareth Morgan formed The Opportunities Party (Top) ahead of the 2017 election, and in every election since the party has run a noisy well-funded attempt to enter parliament as a new party of the centre, with pretty left-wing policy preferences but an open mind to working with National, Henry Cooke says.

This time their push was via the seat of Ilam, as the party had no shot of hitting 5% of the party vote. However with 19% counted the National candidate Hamish Campbell is well ahead with almost twice as many votes as party leader Raf Manji.

Initial results suggest National and Act could govern without NZ First

So what we’re looking at right now is a clear projection that a rightwing coalition could govern easily, without having to rope in a troublesome third party into their coalition arrangement, Charlotte Graham-McLay says:

Centre-right National (52 seats) and libertarian Act (11) have a total of 63 seats. A total of 61 is needed to form a government. They would not need populist New Zealand First with its eight seats.

On the left, centre-left Labour (33), leftwing Greens (13) and Te Pāti Māori (5) have a total of 51 – which is miles off.

ACT New Zealand leader David Seymour
ACT New Zealand leader David Seymour Photograph: Robert Kitchin/AAP

Updated

16% of the votes counted – National party ahead

With 16% of the votes counted, the centre-right National party is comfortably ahead, Eva Corlett reports.

National’s projected seats are 51.

Labour’s projected seats are 33.

National 40.87%

Labour 26.53%

Green Party 10.43%

Act 9.15%

New Zealand First 6.23%

Te Pāti Māori 2.46%

It’s early days but National will obviously be happy with those National results, Henry Cooke says – right up at almost 41%, well above their pre-election polls and if repeated across the night likely enough to govern with ACT alone.

It’s early – but the results this early were pretty indicative last time.

Around some electorates we can see some weakness for Labour too – they are well-behind the Greens in their traditional safe seat of Wellington Central, where 6.4% is counted. In Maungakiekie, a bit of a bellwether seat, National are ahead by 1,400 seat votes with 7.6% counted.

Opposition and National Party leader Chris Luxon in Auckland
Opposition and National Party leader Chris Luxon in Auckland Photograph: Shane Wenzlick/AAP

Updated

Seats to watch out for – part 2

More seats to keep an eye on, courtesy of Henry Cooke:

Wairarapa. Can a charismatic incumbent beat the odds – and possibly become the leader of his party?

Kieran McAnulty won this semi-rural seat for Labour in 2020 with a decent-sized majority of 6545. He is a rising star in the party and his name would be in the mix if Chris Hipkins lost the election and stepped down. But McAnulty could have a very tough time in his own seat, which is demographically and geographically simply a far more National seat than a Labour one.

Hauraki-Waikato. How strong is Te Paati Māori?

This is one of New Zealand’s seven Māori electorates, which National don’t really compete in and Labour usually dominate. Labour’s Nanaia Mahuta has held this seat since it was created in 2008 and the seat that it was made from since 1996. She’s currently New Zealand’s foreign affairs minister – and she usually dominates this electorate. But her very young challenger Hana Maipi-Clarke (21) is running a very strong campaign to unseat her – with one poll showing her just four percentage points behind.

Some candidates for Bellwether electorates - Hutt South, Ōhāriu, Hamilton East, and Maungakiekie.

Our electoral system mean so-called “bellwether” seats aren’t of much use – if you want to see the way the country is going, you look at the national vote. But these are some suburban or regional seats that make some sense as indicators of a wider trend.

Ardern's former seat potentially in play

The Auckland electorate of Mt Albert was held by Jacinda Ardern and former Labour Prime Minister Helen Clark. It has never ever been won by anyone but the Labour Party.

But, Henry Cooke writes that National candidate Melissa Lee is currently ahead by 250 votes with 22% counted. The Green party were running a seat campaign here that might have split the left vote quite a lot. But there’s still plenty of time for Labour’s Helen White to turn that around.

Ardern threw her support behind Labour this week:

Updated

12.3% of the votes counted

With 12.3% of the votes counted, the centre-right National party is ahead, Eva Corlett reports.

National’s projected seats are 51.

Labour’s projected seats are 33.

National 40.72%

Labour 26.28%

Green Party 10.78%

Act 9.30%

New Zealand First 6.23%

Te Pāti Māori 2.31%

Labour won six of the seven Māori seats at the last election, Henry Cooke says. Right now Te Paati Māori are leading in every Māori electorate other than Ikaroa Rāwhiti – quite a turnaround. But it’s still early.

Cheers, shouts and a clap that lasted about 15 seconds when the first results came up on the four large projector screens that had National in the lead, Serena Solomon reports.

A bit here from political commentator and a former Labour party staffer Lamia Imam:

The National party early vote clearly shows that the lack of coverage of their tax cut issues which did not come to light until after voting had already started. It’s unlikely that this will end up being the final number since Labour has more of a presence in the main centres where it will take longer to count the votes.

Greens have run an incredible ground campaign and have been polling very well. Their success tonight will make for an interesting three years of government for Christopher Luxon if he is able to eek out a win at the end of the night.

Electorates to look out for: Rongotai and Wellington Central where the Greens have some chance of winning new seats and in Wellington Central’s a split in the left vote could see National MP in one of the most left leaning electorates in the country.

Hauraki-Waikato is also an interesting Māori electorate where the 20-year-old Hana-Rāwhiti Maipi-Clarke might be close to unseating the very seasoned Nanaia Mahuta. Although unlikely, it would be a huge upset for the Labour Party so I’m interested to see the outcome of this.

Looking at that first tranche of results, it seems to confirm the return to parliament of the populist minor party New Zealand First, Charlotte Graham-McLay reports, as it’s polling past the 5% threshold.

However, at current figures, National and Act would not require the party’s eight projected seats to form a right-wing coalition.

A Guardian Essential poll in August was among the first to presage the return of NZ First, whose leader, Winston Peters, will be the longest-serving current lawmaker in the country when he returns to office.

He’s an irascible maverick who sort of defies attempts at characterisation, but we unpacked his colourful role in NZ’s political history this week.

New Zealand First Leader Winston Peters casts his vote in Auckland
New Zealand First Leader Winston Peters casts his vote in Auckland
Photograph: Reuters

Updated

Supporters have started to trickle in to National party’s election night party in Auckland CBD, Serena Solomon reports, but there’s still more media than supports. Vibe: quiet yet jovial.

More from Serena:

National have booked an ambitiously large venue, one of the “more premium venues in Auckland,” according to an events manager I spoke to today.

It’s a cash bar for the media tonight, which has caused some grumbling in the press pen. This is in line with the last election, but before that, the media lived a catered experience at National party election parties.

“The media room and the diplomats rooms were where you wanted to be” because it was always well-catered said David Farrar, political pollster, blogger and former National party staffer. Possibly a sign of an “arduous relationship with the media,” he said.

There’s also a curious lack of power outlets. How will we charge all our laptops, phones and various tech?! Perhaps the National party are teaching us all to share.

Serena Solomon NZ National HQ election party

Updated

I’m at Labour HQ in Lower Hutt for the evening, Charlotte Graham McLay reports, the hometown of prime minister and Labour leader Chris Hipkins – he’ll make an appearance later in the evening.

She writes:

For now, early in the night, party faithful outnumber reporters – just. They’ve put the telly on, but not so much as a ripple went through the room at that first tranche of results – understandable given how disappointed Labour will be.

What is generating interest, though, is the evening’s cuisine – which includes sausage rolls, of course.

They’re a favourite of Hipkins – which we wrote about when he was served a giant sausage roll cake last year.

Sausage rolls NZ Labour election party

Updated

First results

The first results are coming in, Eva Corlett reports:

With 3% of the votes counted, the centre-right National party is ahead.

National’s projected seats are 52. Labour’s projected seats are 32.

National 41.06%

Labour 25.36%

Green Party 11.55%

Act 9.30%

New Zealand First 6.35%

Te Pāti Māori 1.98%

Seats to watch out for - part 1

New Zealand’s proportional voting system means individual electorates rarely matter for the final outcome of the election, Henry Cooke says. But there are a few that are worth keeping an eye on for a variety of reasons:

  • Ilam. Can centrist newcomer TOP enter Parliament?

    This Christchurch seat was very deep blue for a very long time before Labour flipped it in their landslide win in 2020. If it was just flipping back to National that wouldn’t be that exciting, but there is a chance – probably a narrow one – that a newish centrist party named TOP win the seat. Ilam is the only possible route into parliament for TOP, as they aren’t polling anywhere near the 5% threshold nationally which guarantees seats in the house.

  • Tamaki. Is ACT strong enough to win another electorate?

    This Auckland seat has been held by National since 1960 – and it isn’t in any danger of being won by Labour. But Act, the libertarian party to National’s right, have selected their deputy leader Brooke van Veldt to run in this seat, and she’s run very hard. The incumbent National MP Simon O’Connor is a hardline social conservative – he celebrated Roe v Wade being overturned – and there are suggestions that many in the community would prefer the more socially liberal Van Velden to win the seat.

  • Wellington Central and Rongotai. Are the Greens going to evict Labour from the capital?

    At the last election the Green Party shocked the establishment by winning Auckland Central, their first victory for the party in an electorate in two decades. This time they are trying to repeat the trick across a handful of electorates, most notably this pair of Wellington seats. The capital is usually a safe haven for the Labour Party, but the Greens win huge amounts of party vote here, and have been putting a lot of effort into winning these two seats.

Polls have closed and both Labour and National are unsurprisingly putting on a brave face, says Henry Cooke, London-based columnist for the Guardian and the former chief political reporter for New Zealand news outlet Stuff.

He says:

I talked to some insiders just before the results started to come in. A National source said there was some potential for a surprise on the upside – meaning they thought they could be a bit stronger than their polls. They said Chris Hipkins’ decision to go negative in the last debate had played badly with voters.

On the Labour side, a source said they were “quietly determined”. They had contacted 80,000 people through the phone and at the doorstep to get out the vote. But they were a little worried the Electoral Commission technical problems could dampen turnout.

With the polls set to close, here are some of the obligatory pictures of dogs at polling stations:

We have voted here in wet and windy Wellington NZ this morning. It’s a big day for NZ (election) and our Aussie friends who have a referendum today.

Looking forward to seeing all the dogs out voting today.#DogsAtPollingStations#VotingDogs#DogsAtNZPollingStations pic.twitter.com/PmIqBkeYcm

— Aus Kiwi Dog (@auskiwidog) October 13, 2023

#DogsAtNZPollingStations #DogsAtPollingStations #nzelection pic.twitter.com/wj8kKCqxpJ

— Moss the BT (@MossTheBT) October 13, 2023

#dogsatpollingstations Jasper braving the weather to vote in Wellington Central pic.twitter.com/5Y3fumeule

— Nicole Moreham (@nam277) October 13, 2023

Polls close at 7pm and the counting of “ordinary votes” – those cast on election day – will begin, Eva Corlett reports.

Results will roll in quickly from then. More than 1.3 million New Zealanders cast advance votes before election day, with the count of these underway from Saturday morning.

Those first results are considered a big sample size and can give a good indication of which way the party vote is heading.

In both the 2020 and 2017 elections, the final results were remarkably similar to those when just 4% of votes had been counted.

Special votes – those cast outside a voter’s electorate or from overseas polling stations – are counted after election day.

The Electoral Commission aims to post results from 50% of voting stations by 10pm and 95% by 11.30pm, with the final results (including special votes) published on November 3.

Some voters may have experienced added delays during peak voting hours after the electronic version of the electoral roll crashed just after midday, Eva Corlett reports.

The app is used to look up people who don’t have their EasyVote card or don’t know which electorate they are in.

The Electoral Commission said while the glitch may have caused some delays for people casting a special vote – a vote made outside the voter’s electorate – it has not affected most voters.

The technical problem has now been fixed, the commission said.

Election 2023 has been a glorious day in Auckland weather-wise, Serena Solomon reports. Sunny and a slight breeze with the hug of summer in the air – a welcomed goodbye to a southern hemisphere winter.

Driving in to Auckland CBD today, there was not a political party sign to be seen.

As I wrote about yesterday, from midnight on election day, New Zealand election laws forbid campaigning, media cannot report political stories and all the campaign signage comes down (among other rules). Must have been a busy night for party volunteers who were tasked with taking down thousands of signs across the county.

A fisher enjoying the fine weather at Auckland harbour on election day:

A fisherman at Auckland’s harbour on election day 2023.

Voters stuck in long lines at New Zealand’s polling stations will still be able to vote after the 7pm cutoff, the country’s Electoral Commission has confirmed, Eva Corlett reports.

Extra staff were required at some of the 2300 polling stations around the country due to high demand, it said. Some voters reported waiting between 20-45 minutes in queue before casting their votes.

Waiting voters would not be turned away, said the chief electoral officer Karl Le Quesne:

If you are waiting at your voting place to vote and it turns to 7pm, you can still stay on the line and cast your vote.

Just over 1.3 million New Zealanders voted prior to election day - roughly 600,000 thousand fewer than the 2020 election and about 150,000 more than in 2017. Approximately 3.5 million people are enrolled to vote.

Voters queue to cast their votes in the 2023 general election at a polling station in Auckland.

A little bit more on the background to election day restrictions here from our reporter Serena Solomon:

It is a criminal offence in New Zealand to do anything that could be seen as encouraging or persuading voters on election day, a law that stems from 19th-century England, where New Zealand gets its parliamentary model. This ban includes advertising, public statements, processions and speeches, as well as displaying candidate, party names, emblems, slogans or logos.

“What the law basically says to people is you have to quietly go to a place without any attempt to influence you or stir up your emotions, and you consult your conscience in private,” said Prof Andrew Geddis, an expert in electoral law from the University of Otago.

“You then cast your vote much in the same way as when you go to church and you make a little prayer to God.”

Read on below:

Last hour of voting

Hello and welcome to the Guardian’s live coverage of the New Zealand election 2023 with me, Helen Livingstone.

Joining me on the blog will be Eva Corlett in Wellington, Charlotte Graham-McLay in Lower Hutt, Serena Solomon in Auckland and our political analysts Henry Cooke and Lamia Imam.

Polls are set to close in just under an hour, at 7pm (0600 GMT). Until then, there are restrictions on political coverage in place in New Zealand, which started on midnight Friday. That’s in line with the country’s strict election laws, which forbid campaign posters, political social media posts and news coverage among other things in order not to influence voters on election day.

That said, more than 1 million of the country’s 3.5 million registered voters have already cast their ballots in the two weeks of advance voting.

Updated

Contributor

Helen Livingstone

The GuardianTramp

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