Election 2017: 12 electorate races to watch

The battle for Northland could prove pivotal if NZ First struggle to make five per cent of the party vote. NZ First's ...
JO MOIR/STUFF

The battle for Northland could prove pivotal if NZ First struggle to make five per cent of the party vote. NZ First's Winston Peters (left), Labour's Will-Jean Prime (centre) and National's Matt King are the leading candidates.

There are 71 electorates to be decided in the 2017 election.

Some are tighter or more intriguing battles than others.

READ MORE: Live - Election night in New Zealand

Here's the latest on 12 of the hottest races:

AUCKLAND CENTRAL


This was the closest electorate race in 2014, with National minister Nikki Kaye pipping now-Labour leader Jacinda Ardern by 600 votes. Ardern isn't standing in Auckland Central this time around, but given a likely increase in support for Labour, it should still be a close race.

Nikki Kaye: 8822, Helen White: 7314.

National: 7715, Labour: 6844.

Te Kāea

Incumbent Waiariki MP Te Ururoa Flavell was first elected to Parliament in 2005.

NORTHLAND

With NZ First flirting with the 5 per cent threshold in the polls, the Northland seat, held by Winston Peters, is their back-up plan for getting into Parliament. Keep a close eye on this one if the party-vote support for NZ First is soft. Peters' biggest threat here is National candidate Matt King.

Matt King: 13,686, Winston Peters: 12,394.

Nikki Kaye is battling it out for the Auckland Central seat during this election.
FIONA GOODALL/GETTY IMAGES

Nikki Kaye is battling it out for the Auckland Central seat during this election.

National: 16,839, Labour: 10,059, NZ First, 4776.

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ALL VOTES COUNTED.

WAIARIKI

Maori Party co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell has faced strong competition from Labour's Tamati Coffey in the Waiariki seat.
HAGEN HOPKINS/GETTY IMAGES

Maori Party co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell has faced strong competition from Labour's Tamati Coffey in the Waiariki seat.

The fate of the Māori Party could hang on whether leader Tu Ururoa Flavell can overcome the challenge from Labour's Tamati Coffey. A leaked Labour internal poll had the race neck-and-neck in late July, but a more recent one put Flavell ahead comfortably. 

Tamati Coffey: 9847, Te Ururoa Flavell: 8526.

Labour: 10,843, Māori: 3752.

Chloe Swarbrick is making a run for the hotly contested Maungakiekie seat.
DAVID UNWIN/STUFF

Chloe Swarbrick is making a run for the hotly contested Maungakiekie seat.

ALL VOTES COUNTED.

TE TAI HAUĀURU

If Flavell fails to take Waiariki, the Māori Party may have a fallback in Howie Tamati, in Te Tai Hauāuru. The former rugby league international led in a poll in late August over incumbent Labour MP Adrian Rurawhe.

Hamilton West Labour candidate Gaurav Sharma. He's up against National incumbent Tim McIndoe in the most bellwether ...
CHRISTINE CORNEGE/FAIRFAX NZ

Hamilton West Labour candidate Gaurav Sharma. He's up against National incumbent Tim McIndoe in the most bellwether electorate from the last three elections.

Adrian Rurawhe: 8038, Howie Tamati: 6903.

Labour: 10,399, Māori: 2665.

HUTT SOUTH

The second-closest race in 2014 saw Labour's Trevor Mallard get up over National's Chris Bishop. Long-serving MP Mallard isn't standing this time, so the race between Bishop and Labour's Ginny Andersen should be one to watch.

Chris Bishop: 17,392, Ginny Andersen: 15,387.

National: 15,276, Labour: 13,909.

ALL VOTES COUNTED.

MAUNGAKIEKIE

National's Sam Lotu-Iuga won a small majority here in 2014, but isn't standing this time around. Denise Lee will defend the seat in his place with competition from Labour's Priyanca Radhakrishnan and the Green's former Auckland mayoral candidate Chloe Swarbrick.

Denise Lee: 12,276, Priyanca Radhakrishnan: 10,376.

Labour: 11,839, National, 11,532,

CHRISTCHURCH CENTRAL

National's Nicky Wagner won this by about 2500 votes last time, and it should be a close race again in what has been a fairly bellwether electorate over the last three elections.

Duncan Webb (Labour): 13,838, Nicky Wagner: 11,573.

Labour: 11,592, National 11,471.

ALL VOTES COUNTED.

WHANGANUI

This is another bellwether seat where National candidate Chester Borrows had a comfortable, but not huge, margin in 2014. Borrows is not standing this time around. The race between his replacement, Harete Hipango, and Steph Lewis could go down to the wire.

Harete Hipango: 15,376, Steph Lewis: 13,535.

National: 15,474, Labour: 12,085.

ALL VOTES COUNTED.

HAMILTON WEST

Hamilton West is the most bellwether electorate from the last three elections so any swing from National to Labour is likely to be registered here. National incumbent Tim McIndoe could be pushed closer than his majority of 6000 from 2014 by Labour candidate Gaurav Sharma.

Tim MacIndoe: 13,252, Gaurav Sharma: 7534.

National: 11,772, Labour: 8902.

NELSON

National minister Nick Smith should hold his seat here, but as this is the only electorate where the Greens' candidate (Matt Lawrey) has any realistic chance of victory, it could become pivotal if their party is flirting with the 5 per cent threshold.

Nick Smith: 14,966, Rachel Boyack (Labour): 10,956, Matt Lawrey: 8324.

Labour: 15,030, National:  14,690.

ALL VOTES COUNTED.

PALMERSTON NORTH

In 2014, National won the party vote by a slim margin, and Iain Lees-Galloway took the candidate vote by a similar margin. This is another bellwether seat in which the outcome should be tight.

Iain Lees-Galloway: 15,866, Adrienne Pierce (National): 10,547.

National: 12,608, Labour: 12,271.

ALL VOTES COUNTED

TE TAI TOKERAU

Hone Harawira's return to Parliament depends on his beating Labour deputy Kelvin Davis in the northern-most of the Māori seats. Polling has Davis comfortably ahead, but there are always questions over the reliability of polling in electorates. And if Harawira can run Davis close, it could be en exciting contest that has a major bearing on the make-up of Parliament.

Kelvin Davis: 10,438, Hone Harawira: 6176.

Labour: 11,152, NZ First: 2328

ALL VOTES COUNTED.

HERE'S ONE MORE TO WATCH: ŌHĀRIU 

This is the seat former United Future leader Peter Dunne held for years - so it'll be interesting to see who picks this one up.

Greg O'Connor (Labour): 14,486, Brett Hudson (National): 13,807.

National: 15,697, Labour: 11,713.

ALL VOTES COUNTED.

 - Stuff

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