Labour's new Te Tai Tonga MP, Rino Tirikatene, says it is "personally very satisfying" to claim victory over the incumbent Maori Party MP, Rahui Katene, given his party's election results.
Mr Tirikatene won the seat, covering much of Wellington and all the South Island, by 1445 votes.
It came as a surprise to many as polls in the election leadup placed him behind Ms Katene who took the seat from Labour in a close-fought battle in 2008.
"It didn't deter me at all because I knew we'd put the work in," Mr Tirikatene said. "It proved the only poll that counts is the one that happens on the day."
Mr Tirikatene led throughout the night as votes were counted so is confident the result will not change in coming days. "I expect to at least maintain the lead or even grow it once specials are counted."
Having had only three hours' sleep on Saturday night, Mr Tirikatene said his win was still just sinking in yesterday.
He is having his first get together with other Labour MPs in Wellington tomorrow.
"I'm brand new. I don't how the whole set up works. I'll get inducted then I guess."
Mr Tirikatene also has plans to visit all the main centres in his electorate before Christmas.
Nelson and Tasman was a wonderful part of the country, he said, and, coming from an economic development background, he was keen to support strong growth in the region's industries.
"For me it's also about just getting into the neighbourhoods like Stoke and connecting with families and community groups."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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