NZ election 2011: the aftermath

by Toby Manhire / 27 November, 2011
Key's deals with Maori party, ACT and United Future. The Labour leadership race. And new front benches announced.
Monday 19 December, 2.30pm: Labour leader David Shearer has named his shadow cabinet - it's not usually called a "shadow cabinet" in New Zealand, but I find it useful shorthand so I've called it that. David Cunliffe, Shearer's former rival for the leadership, goes from No 3 to no 5, with the third David, who dropped out of the leadership contest and backed Shearer, taking finance.

Jacinda Ardern, who was narrowly beaten in the Auckland Central electorate but came in via the list again, has shot up to No 4. Phil Goff has accepted the foreign affairs spokesman role, despite having suggested he'd be off to the back benches.

The full details are in this Labour PDF. Here are the top 10:

1 David Shearer

Leader of the Opposition

Security Intelligence Service

Science and Innovation

2 Grant Robertson

Deputy Leader of the Opposition


Tertiary Education, Skills and Training

3 David Parker


4 Jacinda Ardern

Social Development

5 David Cunliffe

Economic Development

Associate Finance

6 Clayton Cosgrove



Small Business

Trade Negotiations

Associate Finance

7 Shane Jones

Regional Development

Associate Finance

Economic Development (Māori)


8 Nanaia Mahuta


Associate Māori Affairs (Social)

9 Maryan Street


Disarmament and Arms Control

Associate Foreign Affairs

10 Su’a William Sio


Pacific Island Affairs

Inter-Faith Dialogue

Associate Foreign Affairs


And with that, this blog is shuttering the windows. Thanks heaps for your company.

Friday 16 December, 6.30pm: Paula Bennett's office has said the National MP has grabbed back the closely contested Waitakere seat in a judicial recount, turning an 11-vote deficit into a nine-vote win. That would mean Carmel Sepuloni loses her seat in the house, given her place on the Labour list.

The Electoral Commission has professed surprise at the announcement and said official results will not be released until Monday. But assuming it does hold - and Bennett appears not to be disputing the numbers - there remains one possible wild twist: see Graeme Edgeler's post here.

Tuesday 13 December, 11.10am: LABOUR LEADER VOTE

The Labour caucus has, according to reports from Wellington, elected David Shearer as its new leader, with Grant Robertson as his deputy.

As had been widely expected, the relatively new and untarnished MP for Mount Albert gained more support from colleagues than did the more politically experienced David Cunliffe, Labour's finance spokesman.

Monday 12 December, 12.00am: KEY NAMES CABINET

John Key has lined up his MPs in the Beehive playing field and picked his ministerial team.

No gobsmackers here. The big climbers are Steven Joyce - which really just reflects his existing position -and Hekia Parata, who take the difficult education portfolio. Paula Bennett is the only other promotion to the frontbench (which seats nine).

Nick Smith and Anne Tolley go back a bench. Amy Adams appears to be the only new minister.


1 John Key (ranking unchanged, believe it or not)

Prime Minister

Minister of Tourism

(Other roles: Minister Responsible for Ministerial Services; Minister in Charge of the NZ Security Intelligence Service; Minister Responsible for the GCSB)

2 Bill English (no change)

Deputy Prime Minister

Minister of Finance

3 Gerry Brownlee (no change)

Minister for Canterbury Earthquake Recovery

Minister of Transport

(Also: Leader of the House; Minister Responsible for the Earthquake Commission)

4 Steven Joyce (previously ranked 14)

Minister for Economic Development

Minister of Science and Innovation

Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment

(Also: Associate Minister of Finance)

5 Judith Collins (7)

Minister of Justice

Minister for ACC

Minister for Ethnic Affairs

6 Tony Ryall (5)

Minister of Health

Minister for State Owned Enterprises

7 Hekia Parata (20)

Minister of Education

Minister of Pacific Island Affairs

8 Christopher Finlayson (9)


Minister for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations

Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage

(Also: Associate Minister of Maori Affairs)

9 Paula Bennett (16)

Minister for Social Development

Minister of Youth Affairs


10 Dr Nick Smith (6)

Minister for the Environment

Minister for Climate Change Issues

Minister of Local Government

11 David Carter (10)

Minister for Primary Industries

12 Murray McCully (11)

Minister of Foreign Affairs

Minister for Sport and Recreation

13 Anne Tolley (8)

Minister of Police

Minister of Corrections

(Also: Deputy Leader of the House)

14 Dr Jonathan Coleman (18)

Minister of Defence

Minister of State Services

(Also: Associate Minister of Finance)

15 Tim Groser (12)

Minister of Trade

(Also: Minister Responsible for International Climate Change Negotiations; Associate Minister of Foreign Affairs)

16 Phil Heatley (17)

Minister of Energy and Resources

Minister of Housing

17 Kate Wilkinson (19)

Minister of Conservation

Minister of Labour

Minister for Food Safety

(Also: Associate Minister of Immigration)

18 Nathan Guy (22)

Minister of Immigration

Minister for Racing

Minister of Veterans’ Affairs

(Also: Associate Minister for Primary Industries)

19 Craig Foss (23)

Minister of Commerce

Minister of Broadcasting

(Also: Associate Minister for ACC; Associate Minister of Education)

20 Amy Adams (newly promoted)

Minister of Internal Affairs

Minister for Communications and Information Technology

(Also: Associate Minister for Canterbury Earthquake Recovery)


Maurice Williamson

Minister for Building and Construction

Minister of Customs

Minister for Land Information

Minister of Statistics

Chris Tremain

Minister of Civil Defence

Minister of Consumer Affairs

(Also: Associate Minister of Tourism; Associate Minister of Transport)

Jo Goodhew

Minister for the Community and Voluntary Sector

Minister for Senior Citizens

Minister of Women’s Affairs

(Also: Associate Minister of Health)

Chester Borrows

Minister of Courts

(Also: Associate Minister of Justice; Associate Minister of Social Development)


Peter Dunne (United Future)

Minister of Revenue

(Also: Associate Minister of Conservation; Associate Minister of Health)

John Banks (ACT party)

Minister for Regulatory Reform

Minister for Small Business

(Also: Associate Minister of Commerce; Associate Minister of Education)

Pita Sharples (Maori party)

Minister of Maori Affairs

(Also: Associate Minister of Corrections; Associate Minister of Education)

Tariana Turia (Maori party)

Minister for Whanau Ora

Minister for Disability Issues

(Also: Associate Minister of Health; Associate Minister of Housing; Associate Minister for Social Development; Associate Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment)

Press release here. Full list and rankings in a PDF here.

Sunday 11 December, 8.00pm: The Maori party have signed the dotted line on a "relationship accord and confidence and supply agreement" with the National party.

The deal is limited to confidence and supply - unlike the one-man wonder parties of Banks and Dunne, the Maori party only promises to vote with the government on the budget and not to back a no-confidence motion.

The main policy gains for the Maori party: further development of the Whanau Ora scheme, including establishment of a commissioning agency in the next 12 months; a ministerial committee on poverty; and a refocusing Te Puni Kokiri on Maori employment, education, training, and hiousing.

As in the last term, Pita Sharples will be minister for Maori affairs, associate corrections and associate education. Tariana Turia will be minister for Whanau Ora, disability issues and associate health. The positions are outside cabinet.

The National press release is here.The PDF of the agreement is here.

Saturday 10 December, 2.10pm: OFFICIAL RESULTS

The Electoral Commission has this afternoon coughed up the final - or just about final - results from that election a fortnight ago. With special votes counted, the Greens gain an extra seat, with Mojo Mathers, at No 14, taking her place in parliament. National lose a list MP, to go to 59 - add one John Act party and one Peter Future and they hold a paper-thin majority of 61 out of 121 seats. The Maori party's negotiating power just went up a notch, and the Speaker may be called to to cast a vote from time to time.

In the Christchurch Central electorate, a dead heat on election night, National's NIcky Wagner has won by 45 votes. In Waitakere, which National's Paula Bennett was holding after the count on November 26, Labour's Carmel Sepuloni wins by just 11 votes. If that result holds - and both of these tight seats are likely to be subject to recounts - Labour's Raymond Huo would fall off the Labour seating planner.

The headline results, as provided by the Electoral Commission:

  • The number of seats in Parliament will be 121.

  • The National Party has lost one list seat compared to election night, and now has 59 seats in total.

  • The Green Party has gained one list seat compared to election night, and now has 14 seats in total.

  • There are no changes to the number of seats held on election night by other parties.

  • National Party candidate Nicky Wagner has won the Christchurch Central electorate seat with a majority of 45.

  • Labour Party candidate Carmel Sepuloni has won the Waitakere electorate seat with a majority of 11.

  • All other electorate candidates leading on election night have been confirmed as winning their seats.

  • The turnout as a percentage of enrolled electors is 74.21 percent (2008 – 79.46 percent).

Referendum on the Voting System in summary:

  • In Part A of the Referendum, 57.77 percent of valid votes were cast in favour of keeping MMP as New Zealand’s voting system.

  • In Part B of the Referendum, the most preferred alternative system was First Past the Post (FPP), with 46.66 percent of valid votes.

Details of the official results are available from

5.45pm: Attention is focusing very much on the education component of the National-ACT agreement. The deal includes a surprise provision for the introduction of charter schools – schools which can to a large extent operate independent of state supervision.

John Banks is given “delegated authority to lead the work on charter schools and the interface between public, integrated and independent schools”.

From the agreement:

The proposed charter school system is targeted at lifting educational achievement in low decile areas and disadvantaged communities where educational underperformance has become the norm. It is designed to provide greater flexibility in governance and management ...

Initially the system will be implemented in areas such as South Auckland and central/eastern areas of Christchurch. Once successfully established, and as fiscal conditions permit, the system would be extended to other areas of low educational performance ...

Groups proposing to operate charter schools may be non-profit, community organisations including iwi and Pacific Island groups, school trustees, faith-based educational organisations, and not-for-profit and for-profit management groups (likely to operate multiple charter schools). They would be granted a charter by an authorised body.

Boards of Trustees would be responsible for all aspects of school operations. They may operate the school themselves or contract out management to not-for-profit or for-profit education providers ...

The approach is modelled on successful international examples such as the KIPP schools in the US and to some extent on the system of ‘free’ schools currently being introduced in the UK.

Both of those schemes – in the US and UK – have attracted considerable controversy.

Speaking to Mary Wilson on RNZ’s Checkpoint a moment ago, John Key denied that it was irresponsible to introduce a policy that had featured in neither the National nor Act manifestos. “It was one of the ideas that Act brought to us,” he said. But it wasn’t something they campaigned on. “I’m not responsible for what they campaign on.”

As for the introduction of a profit motive into education, the PM said “that’s not really the aim of them”.

John Banks appeared next. “Absolutely I campaigned on charter schools,” he said. “It specifically says ‘excellence in schools’.” Wilson: “’Excellence in schools’ can mean anything.” We didn’t need to use the precise term, Banks insisted, so clearly was it implied by their argument for freer, better education. Yet you didn’t feel able to say “charter schools”, said Wilson. Banks: “You’re being silly.”

Here's the interview with Key:

And with Banks:

3.45pm: The National-Act confidence and supply agreement is described in this National release, which contains a link to the PDF document - and the corresponding agreement with United Future is here.

Monday 4 December, 3.30pm: Confidence and supply deals have been signed between the prime minister, John Key, and the entire parliamentary presences of the Act and United Future parties, that is, John Banks and Peter Dunne.

Both appear to have secured concessions - if that's the word - considerably beyond their electoral success. From Radio New Zealand:

Under the deal with ACT, MP John Banks will be the Minister of Regulatory Reform, associate Minister of Education, Minister for Small Business and associate Commerce Minister.

United Future leader Peter Dunne will remain Minister of Revenue and associate Minister of Health, as well as picking up the portfolio of associate Minister of Conservation.

Mr Dunne has also won new gains including investigating a free, annual health check-up for over 65s, no sale of any part of Kiwibank or Radio New Zealand.

Sunday 4 December, 3.00pm: The two candidates for the Labour leadership, Davids Cunliffe and Shearer, appeared on the weekend's current affairs shows, Q+A and The Nation. They talk to Guyon Espiner here. And to Sean Plunket here (the video isn't working on the latter, but maybe it will be fixed).

5.10pm: The statement from Parker is short. Like this:

I am formally withdrawing from the leadership race of the Labour Party. I remain committed to Labour ideals and will work hard to achieve them for New Zealanders and the country.

There is growing support for a new face to lead the Labour Party. I intend to support David Shearer in his bid.

4.55pm: According to reports David Parker has withdrawn from the Labour leadership race. He appears to be throwing his weight behind David Shearer, calling for "a new face" at the top of the party.

4.20pm: The Labour party has announced the locations for "consultation meetings" ahead of the vote for a new leader, which takes place on 13 December. Venues to be confirmed, but here's the tour outline, which appears to have been carefully arranged to provide a Friday night out in Dunedin:

Monday, 5 December, 5.30pm: Hamilton
Tuesday, 6 December, 7pm-9pm: Palmerston North
Wednesday, 7 December, 6pm-8pm: Wellington
Thursday, 8 December, 7pm-9pm: Christchurch
Friday, 9 December, 7pm-9pm: Dunedin
Sunday, 11 December, 2.30pm-4.30pm: Auckland

More details (but not a lot of them) are here.

2.30pm: After a day off, John Key has resumed talks with the two lone-MP parties: the John Act Banks party, and the Peter United Dunne Future party. It seems deals may be in place by the start of next week. More here.

10.30am: The Dominion Post has also put questions to Les Trois Davids.

Thursday 1 December, 9.30am: This morning's New Zealand Herald argues for a referendum on ex

tending the NZ parliamentary term to four years. The Listener made a similar case back in September. In a plebiscite on the subject in 1990, almost 70% voted to keep the current three-year term.

Last night's Close Up had the three Davids in the studio, making their cases for the Labour leadership. The D-Dogs Cunliffe, Shearer and Parker all force their faces to grin as Mark Sainsbury cracks the requisite David gags. Must smile, fellow MPs watching, must be telegenic, must smile, must. Only 13 days to go.

Shearer uses the line that many, David Farrar among them, suggests he should:

John Key was new; I'm also new. The difference between us was that he came back having made money; I came back having saved lives.

Asked for a single word to describe them, DC said "dynamic"; DP, "integrity"; DS, "trustworthy".

An interesting watch - and viewable online here . Credit to Sainsbury for tearing up the schedule on the fly and running it longer. Hopefully there will be more on the weekend politics shows.

Wednesday 30 November, 2.00pm: A couple of items in the world media on the New Zealand election.

First, the Economist online has an excellent summary of the campaign and result.

And something you won't want to miss from the Washington Post: the NZ election makes their weekly animal slideshow.

Meanwhile, to catch up on the contenders in the Labour leadership race, today's Morning Report - all audio here - is a good place to start. All three Davids speak here.

Tuesday 29 November, 3.25pm: Speaking to media following the five-or-so-hour-long caucus meeting, Phil Goff says no member of the Labour caucus voiced concern that the Labour campaign had been "deficient" in any way. He says he will support whoever is elected leader, and will not seek a frontbench role - a position echoed by King.

Did he give any thought to staying on as leader? "About two seconds."

Was there much disagreement in the meeting? "Caucus discussions are always robust, but most of all I'd characterise them as positive." The meeting was dominated by looking forward, he says. "There was sadness but not despondency."

Goff says it is healthy for the candidates to make their cases in public, but he will be considering his own vote it will be private. He concludes by saying, "You'll notice I am looking very relaxed. And I am." I'd have used the word relieved, Phil. You look relieved.

3.10pm: Phil Goff and Annette King, the Labour leader and deputy leader, have announced they will stand down in a fortnight. There will be at least four contenders for the leadership or deputy leadership: David Cunliffe, Nanaia Mahuta, David Parker, Grant Robertson and David Shearer, in scrupulous alphabetical order.

Their announcement follows a marathon meeting of the Labour caucus.

A Labour caucus meeting on December 13 will elect a leader, deputy leader, senior whip, junior whip and caucus secretary.

Trevor Mallard writes at Red Alert:

There will almost certainly be a contest for both the leadership and deputy leadership.

Like most people I have a view, albeit preliminary. It is not the view ascribed to me by a colleague who thought they were anonymous when they spoke to the media.

1.45pm: The Goff announcement will be streamed live by TVNZ here. For the moment it's showing a bunch of political journalists milling around in the corridor outside the caucus room. I'm trying to make out their off-camera conversation. I think one suggested that an opponent's audience was "dying off", but I can't be sure, and it wouldn't be ethical for me to print it.

1.25pm: As we await a post-caucus appearance from Phil Goff, an interesting piece from TV3's Patrick Gower says Labour is splitting into two Camp Davids - Cunliffe versus Parker - over whom to appoint new leader. The lack of a Camp Shearer, he says, show the party, or its caucus at least, has "the blinkers on".

And at the Sydney Morning Herald, politicial editor Peter Hartcher looks for comparisons between the Australian Labor party and their embattled NZ counterparts.

11.15am: In an ambivalent editorial on the imminent vacancy at the top of the Labour party, the New Zealand Herald says the options are to "either take a safe but largely staid course, or go for broke and risk a relative novice falling flat on his face". Some choice.

Tuesday 29 November, 11.05am: The Labour caucus is meeting in Wellington this morning. This from Barry Soper of Newstalk ZB:

Phil Goff has told his colleagues this morning that he'll be standing down as leader of the Labour Party within weeks.

There's been a lot of wheeling and dealing being done over who'll replace him. The numbers appear to be fairly evenly split between David Cunliffe and David Parker but the party's old guard are lobbying hard for Mr Parker to succeed Mr Goff. They believe Mr Cunliffe was disloyal to Mr Goff and doesn't deserve to take over from him.

It's understood senior jobs are being offered to those in the Cunliffe camp in an attempt to secure their support for Mr Parker. So the leadership change looks set to divide the party rather than unite it.

8.15pm: From Twitter, some suggestions for a new name to replace the outdated Act brand (see 6.15pm):


The Regressives.

The Strange Fellow.

The Tea Party.

Act 2.0.

The Reserve Banks Party.

Disappearing Act.

The One (Percent) Party.

The John Banks Likes to Talk About John Banks in the Third Person Party.

7.30pm: The prime minister, John Key, has just appeared on Campbell Live. Despite Campbell's impressive performance on Saturday evening, the prime minister failed even to float the possibility of a cabinet position with the exuberant host. Key did, however, repeat his insistence that he had the mandate to carry out the partial sales of assets. The over-riding goal, he said, was to provide the country with "economic prosperity".

He also had a bit of advice for the Labour party. Their campaign flailed, he said, because it lacked context: they were unable to "join the dots" from New Zealand's problems, such as increased unemployment, with the performance of the government. Their message was "all over the show", lacking the positivity and vision that his lot projected.

Close Up sent a reporter around some of the parties' election night bashes, but they could unearth nothing as delicious as Patrick "Devious G" Scoop's enconter with the young Nats from Saturday evening, which you can relive here. Perhaps most alarmingly, the electronic programme guide for Close Up tonight showed the following: "One News kicks off the election campaign with the first televised debate between National party leader John Key and Labour party leader Phil Goff." I'm sure I'm not the only one who stabbed myself in the hand with a fork.

6.15pm: John Banks suggests on Radio New Zealand's Checkpoint that the "Act brand has outlived its use-by date".

Appearing after him on the programme, former Federated Farmers' chief Don Nicolson, and now Act No 3, casts doubt on that idea, and chides the Act practice of discussing its business through the media.

In the interest of helpfulness, however: the John Key party? The Strange Fellows? Suggestions?

4.50pm: TV3 says its election night coverage out-rated TV One for the first time, reports the NBR.

2.35pm: BLOGGERS

Gordon Campbell has posted an extended review of the election outcomes at Scoop. On the Labour leadership, he picks David Cunliffe as best placed to succeed Phil Goff.

At the Dim-Post, Danyl Mclauchlan favours – or disfavours least, perhaps – David Cunliffe, who is “certainly arrogant, cunning and vicious enough to be leader”.

Mike Smith at the Standard urges Labour to take its time choosing a new leader, with “the widest possible consultation and discussion”.

Kiwiblogger David Farrar assesses the performances of both main parties, including this thought on the Labour leadership:

David Shearer is the dark horse, but for my money the one who would have the best chance of beating John Key (now that Shane Jones is out of the mix). Imagine this in an advertisement:

“John Key and David Shearer both left New Zealand for 20 years to work overseas. John Key worked on Wall Street to make himself $50 million dollars, while David Shearer worked to help save 50 million lives in some of the most dangerous and impoverished countries on earth.”

Maui Street’s Morgan Godfery does not believe Maori party support for National will be the “death sentence” some predict – but they need to demand deeper concessions.

And Bryce Edwards reviews the election in pictures at Liberation.

12.05pm: David Cunliffe has received a hefty endorsmeent in his bid to be the next leader of the Labour party. Sam Morgan, the TradeMe founder, Fairfax board member and much-mentioned figure in the campaign, tweets:

David Cunliffe is the natural leader of the Labour Party. Super smart, hard working and with work experience in the real world to boot.

11.20am: As John Key's cabinet regathers for the first time since the campaign began, here, via Scoop, is the new members' introduction to parliament.

Monday 28 November, 11.00am: Pining for a paper review? Philip Pinner it aint, but the RNZ site has a press roundup here.

Sunday 27 November, 9.45pm: Dan News has spliced together some amusing moments from last night's election broadcasts.


Rewind to 8am.

"The election that looked like it could be a coronation turned into a nailbiter last night," says Sean Plunket introduicng the Nation, which screened this morning on TV3, with a shade of exaggeration.

Steven Joyce is looking in decent shape in the studio, given he was no doubt tearing up the dance floor down at Wynyard. He's delighted with the performance, and points to two main achievements: the way the tribulations of the last three years were dealt with; and the economic record. "Winston Peters - why did he get back?" asks Duncan Garner. Joyce: "Some will say, Duncan, that you had a fair to do with it." Touche. Wish we could see Plunkett in the shot. He got the oxygen, and he picked up the people moving away from Labour, says Joyce. Had he been nervous. "Like a cat on hot bricks in the last 48 hours," says the National campaign manager. Nobody say Scarface Claw.

Shane Jones is next. "It's highly unlikely I'll be putting my hand up for the Labour leadership," he says. Then Hone Harawira, who professes puzzlement at the strategy of the Maori party, says he's confident he can build the Mana movement despite only having the one seat, and says he sees areas in which he can cooperate with Winston Peters. Then Don Brash: "I have no plans to be back in politics - at all."

Then Grant Robertson, Labour's campaign spokesman, who is introduced with a damning figure: Labour's party vote in 2007, 33.99%; last night, 27.13%. "Phil has got to have the space to make his call." What about the speculation this morning of a Parker-Robertson ticket? "It's pretty early on a Sunday morning to start making predictions," says Robertson, insisting Goff be given the "dignity" to make his announcement first.

Here's Winston Peters. Their success, he says, was founded in visiting small centres across the country; he knew "the surge would come". And he has a bash at David Farrar over his allegations on Friday. "We're having some bloggers on later," chirps Plunket. "Really?" says Peters. "Why would you bother?" The bloggers spend most of their time talking about psephology. True.

Finally, Pita Sharples. He's about to meet with Tariana Turia and others to discuss whether they might go with National. "Now that Act are at the table I think it's even more important that we should lean that way, but it's up to the group to decide."

After Peter Dunne, and that Goodfellow chap - the National party president - arrives Russel Norman, with two of his new Green MPs popping up on the screens, all dressed in green cardigans, spectacle and brooches. Then appears Stuart Nash, the defeated Labour list MP and great grandson of Sir Walter Nash. "Gutted," he says. He has complimentary things to say about Phil Goff, "man of huge integrity". Should Goff stay on? If he did, says Nash, it would be hard for anyone to argue they were better than him.

Later, the pro- and anti-MMP people appear, as does Gerry Brownlee, but my forehead fell on the fast-forward button.

The Nation was two hours long; not quite such a marathon effort on Q+A, which is the regular hour-long slot. A panel of five plus Paul Holmes and Guyon Espiner this morning, continuing the TV One campaign strategy: heaps of people. Their first guest is Steven Joyce, too, who has scooted like a cat on hot bricks from TV3 HQ to the TVNZ studio. Similar stuff, no surprise.

And then Tariana Turia. "The first time round we were politically naive," she says - they went for short-term gains; this time they'd be after more structural stuff, such as a treaty commissioner, and the future of te puni kokiri. Next, Don Brash. Poor bugger - seems John Banks didn't fancy it - he's probably snuggled cosily on the waterbed, moggy curled up by his feet. And I don't mean Steven Joyce. Or David Cunliffe.

Last night, John Campbell thanked Brash for being so willing to turn up, adding, after he'd gone, that he was perhaps a little too willing for his own good. And quite so - he'd have done better to sell himself as the wise, slightly cantankerous former reserve bank governor and National leader, who had little time for the infantile witterings of the political media. Surely.

The Grant Robertson again, who doesn't accept Espiner's suggestion that the result was "a disaster". He says "the soul of the Labour party's very strong". Does he want to be Labour leader? "It's way too early on a Sunday morning to be talking about that," he says. Which sounds of familiar. Still, what kind of idiot would watch both The Nation and Q+A? Oh.

Metiria Turei. Still the "highly unlikely" language on a coalition-type arrangement with National, but it seems pretty clear that the Greens will look to agree another memorandum of understanding. Then Winston Peters, who says they'll wait to see the government's programme before deciding whether to support it or not.

I was meaning to do Marae Investigates, the evening news and all that, too, but it's getting late, and I've got a bout of hay fever. Still, the tomato plants are all in the garden. Not a metaphor. Good night.

4.00pm: One thing Phil Goff did confirm this afternoon was that he would not be quitting parliament in this term.

3.30pm: Phil Goff appears to have decided he's done his time as Labour leader, but he's been careful not to make an announcement yet, insisting he must first talk to caucus. But the Sydney Morning Herald clears things up for us with a headline Goff to step down as NZ Labour leader.

Sunday 27 November, 2.00pm: Last night was the climax of the election campaign, and so, too, of this live blog. For the remainder - an epilogue of sorts - we'll chuck it all in this post. But the entries will be fewer and less immediate. There other things to be done.

Later, a roundup of the day's telly. First, a review of the MORNING PAPERS.

Spare a thought for the hardworking scribes who knocked out stories about, say, the unlikely leftwing coalition that Goff will be piecing together, or the final obliteration of the Act party. Those pieces will lie punctured by the dreaded spike, victims of the mad dash that is compiling a newspaper on election night.

And both of the main papers did pretty well, - with the Herald on Sunday giving its first 25 pages over to election coverage, the Sunday Star Times its first 10 pages.

"Back and Blue" exclaims the Herald on Sunday's front page; underneath Winston and Banks join the picture as the night's other talking points. Inside it is Winston getting most of the coverage in the early pages, his 7% share of the vote confounding the pundits.

Matt McCarten calls last night a rout and worries for the future of Labour. "Unless they clean their house out from top to bottom they won't recover from this defeat. Waiting for their turn to rule isn't going to happen under MMP." He declares the Greens and NZ First the biggest winners in last night's result and while likening Peters to Houdini says "Only the Gods could have dreamt up such a fitting punishment for John Key's cynical tea party with the assassins of Rodney Hide."

Deborah Coddington says we are mistaken if we think John "nerves of steel" Key will renege on his word not to engage with Peters. She gives Goff two thumbs up for a gutsy performance and says David Shearer is the only real prospect to replace him.

John Armstrong calls the night a real triumph for Key. National's last landslide wins of 1990 and 1975 were delivered from opposition, it is a much more difficult achievement sitting in government. The tactical error in Epsom that gave NZ First so much traction has not ended up the danger that he feared which must be a relief. The only caveat will be the expectations from the electorate being so high over him delivering economic recovery. "Key has been given a huge mandate - especially for those asset sales and welfare reform. But will he now make the most of it?"

Jonathan Milne looks at the change in relationship between Key and the electorate after the teapot tapes scandal. "No longer, it seemed, was he the warm, smiling sweetheart of the nation who was elected to government." But, in looking at the three point gain on the last result, it has obviously been the making of this relationship - though it's best that Key now drops his newfound "fear and loathing" of the fourth estate.

Kerre Woodham is glad she lives in a democracy - except when that democracy elects Winston Peters and his merry band of politicians. "John Key deserves a thorough spanking for dropping the ball on the try line," she says, laying the blame with him for the Epsom tea affair.

Deborah Hill-Cone was taking note of the TV coverage of last night's election and didn't vote for TVNZ. Too many anchors, she decided. "Who was 'Dad': Guyon or Mark or Simon? It was uncomfortable to watch." There was a "UN general assembly of commentators", too, of which hardly any got to say anything of interest. TV3 was much more clear and John Campbell, despite some of the silliness, wrangled the panel well. Just leave out the John Key impersonator.

Bill Ralston agrees, also choosing the UN for his metaphor and notes they were so busy with their panel they missed Don Brash's resignation until after TV3 had reported it.

The editorial says, like many of the pundits, that despite Labour's anti-asset-sale focus and the massive support it had they were never going to be able to wrest voters across during a time of economic uncertainty and after one term. Like John Armstrong, it warns that "National would be wrong to take this election result as an unqualified mandate". Over half of voters don't agree with the market-driven policies National is pushing. "They should beware of further betraying the values that made this country great and can do so again." Would the editorial have looked the same in a universe where Bradley Ambrose's recorder had never been left on that table? Unlikely.

Bernard Hickey says the "financial hangover" starts now as we forget the pre-election promises of economic growth and start to learn what the real costings are for the future of the country and whether there is any plan for what happens if Europe's economy implodes.

Pizza Hutt will be thrilled with the free advertising they get on the front page of the Sunday Star Times. "The usual please", goes it's gastronomical analogy - though if you hadn't been watching last night's coverage you could be a bit puzzled by the strangely mournful dark background of the page.

Inside John Hartevelt says Key's "much liked high school head boy" personality was proven too strong a barrier for Labour to break down. "In an inevitably presidential-style campaign, Goff was starting from way behind" and would have to "pull off the proverbial down-trou on Key. He got nowhere near it". The attacks on Key dominated the positive message Labour was also trying to portray for its own policy.

In a piece presumably filed well before the result, Michael Laws gives his condolences to all the losing candidates who awoke this morning in the knowledge they had no job in government. "You entered the fray. You didn't spectate. Don't give up." he says riding his horse back and forth in front of the troops. He predictably reserves some column inches to tell us that this campaign will be remembered for the frenzied political media and their sensationalism. "They don't understand the New Zealand people."
Rob O'Neill says Labour must woo some new talent and regain the trust of business for the next fight.

Like Bernard Hickey, the editorial looks past the finished campaign of "half truths and fierce irrelevancies" at the huge challenge we face for the economy considering the difficulty so many of our major trading partners are facing. Not to mention our high rate of youth unemployment and a growing underclass. "We face the prospect of continued relative decline, especially in comparison with our neighbour Australia, and continued social trouble."

Anthony Hubbard surveys the spin through the campaign. He notes it was Winston - a man who loathes the media - who did the media's job for them in exposing and sabotaging the tea party for the spin. The worst bit of spin, he says, was the chief ombudsman's decision to uphold the government's decision on suppressing Treasury advice on asset sales. "Her action got the government off the hook, a disgraceful decision but one that will be seen for what it was: a cop-out and a cave-in."

And an online editorial for the Dominion Post asks, given the low voter turnout, if it is time for four year terms.


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