'I know I made a difference' Mojo Mathers says as she's ousted from Parliament
Rangitata Labour Party candidate Jo Luxton has won a list seat in Parliament, but her Green Party counterpart, Mojo Mathers, known for her work around disability issues, has lost her own list place after Saturday's election.
The preliminary election results came in late on Saturday night, with National Party candidate Andrew Falloon winning the Rangitata electorate.
Luxton, number 29 on the Labour Party list, said the party had confirmed her seat, and the prospect of going into Parliament was both exciting and daunting.
She was still optimistic about Labour's chances of being in government on Sunday, with more than 384,000 special votes yet to be counted.
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"We could still potentially form a Government.
"I'm absolutely rapt with what we've achieved here in this electorate, anyway."
Luxton said she was "devastated" to hear Mathers would not be returning, as she had achieved so much in Parliament, particularly for people with disabilities.
With the special votes still to be counted, the Greens are set to have seven seats, halving the 14 they won last election, with Mathers missing out at number nine on the party list.
"I was so sad when I read that," Luxton said.
Mathers, who has been an MP since 2011, admitted she was "disappointed" with the Green Party's result, the party only securing 5.9 per cent of the party vote.
"I'd very much hoped we would get 7 per cent. I'm also sad not to be back in. I really wanted to be able to continue the work I've been doing on disability issues, including accessibility, captioning and [New Zealand Sign Language].
"I'm proud of the gains I've made in my time in Parliament though. I know I made a difference, which is more than most MPs can say."
With about 384,000 special votes yet to be counted, it is possible the result could change. The Greens received another seat due to special votes in the last general election.
Mathers said it would be "quite unheard of" for a party to win two seats on special votes.
She was unsure what her next step would be, but on Monday she was travelling to Wellington to sort out her office and her flat, which had been a home away from home for the last six years.
Being an MP had been a privilege, Mathers said.
"I'm really proud of everything that I achieved.
"I've opened people's eyes to what deaf people can do."
When you grew up with a disability you were "put in a box", Mathers said.
"It's hugely hard to get out of that box, and to get other people to see you outside of the box."
There was huge public debate when Mathers first became an MP about the help she would need – since Parliament's TV was not captioned, she needed note takers. It led to an inquiry as to how accessible Parliament was for people with disabilities.
She hoped other MPs would continue to work on disability issues such as captioning. The Green Party had taken "huge steps" and was the only party that captioned all of its Facebook videos.
"I'm sure much of that will continue."
Despite feeling she had made a difference when it came to how people with disabilities were regarded, Mathers pointed out it was still hard for deaf people to find employment.
It would be different now there was not a deaf MP in Parliament, as Mathers had first-hand knowledge of the communication difficulties the deaf community faced.
"[There's] nothing quite like somebody actually there."
When it came to projects she was particularly proud of, one of them was her eight-month campaign which resulted in a ban on animal testing of cometics. She was awarded the international Lush Prize her work in 2015, and travelled to London to receive the award.
Now the campaign was over, she was looking forward to spending more time at home in her garden, she said.
Luxton said she spent the evening celebrating with her family, and there was a "household full of sore heads" on Sunday morning.
One of her focuses as an MP would probably be education, due to her background in the field.
As a list MP she was in a different position to Falloon, as she did not have the same responsibilities to a particular electorate.
It was really too early yet to consider what her priorities would be, she said, and she had to get through the induction process first.
Mathers, who moved from Christchurch to Peel Forest, outside Geraldine, in 2016, was New Zealand's first deaf MP, and one of only five worldwide.
She joined the Greens in 2002, prompted by her concerns over environmental issues. Her portfolios included conservation, animal welfare, and disability issues.
The Green MPs who have definitely got into Parliament in this election are leader James Shaw, Marama Davidson, Julie-Ann Genter, Eugenie Sage, Gareth Huges, Jan Logie and Chloe Swarbrick who, at 23, will be New Zealand's youngest MP.
Iranian-born human rights lawyer Golriz Ghahraman also missed out on a seat, at number eight on the Greens list.
The vote will not be finalised until October 7.
- The Timaru Herald