Whakatau 2023 | Hauraki-Waikato

Election’s youngest candidate has Labour stronghold under siege

An exclusive Whakaata Māori poll has revealed Te Pāti Māori newcomer, Hana-rawhiti Maipi-Clarke is just four percentage points behind Labour’s workhorse, Nanaia Mahuta.

The poll, conducted by Curia Market Research last week, had Mahuta on 36% and Maipi-Clarke on 32%. Undecided were 14%.

The poll has a margin of error of 4.4%, which means the election result could go either way.

If the numbers of undecided or refusing to say are left out, Mahuta had 42% of the decided vote and Maipi-Clarke had 37% last week.

Whakaata Māori released the poll results during a live debate between Mahuta and Maipi-Clarke from its new studio, Hawaikirangi, in East Tāmaki.

The results showed marked differences by age groups, with younger voters opting for Maipi-Clarke and older voters for Mahuta, the second most experienced Māori parliamentarian at 27 years.

If elected, 21-year-old Maipi-Clarke would become New Zealand’s youngest MP in 170 years. She is No. 4 on her party list, so could potentially get to Wellington even if she doesn’t beat Mahuta.

Mahuta, the country’s longest-serving female MP, isn’t on the Labour party list.

Older voters aged 60+ supported Mahuta as the preferred candidate at 43% compared to Maipi-Clarke on 12%. Older voters were also far more likely to vote.

But the lead flipped among those aged under 40, who backed Maipi-Clarke at 43% compared to Mahuta at 30%.

Divided by gender, 37% of men favoured Mahuta to 34% of women; Maipi-Clarke was favoured by 34% of women and 29% of men. However, more women were unsure at 17% than men at 11%.

Which voters turn up at the polling booths is likely to determine the winner, with 77% of voters saying they will definitely vote and 14% very likely – but that is lower than some of the other Māori electorates polled so far.

The poll respondents favoured Labour and Te Pati Māori in various combinations, one of the reasons the race is so tight. For example, if Labour were to form the next government 50% of the respondents thought it should go into coalition with Te Pāti Māori, well ahead of the Greens on 39%.

Te Pati Māori was favoured by voters aged 18-39 and voters from 40-59 at 47% while voters over 60 favoured the Greens as a coalition partner at 44%.

Some 48% of respondents thought they would be better off under a Labour-Greens- Te Pāti Māori coalition.

Perhaps hankering for the days when an earlier version of Te Pāti Māori worked with National, 40% of voters wanted National to go into a coalition with Te Pāti Māori, followed by NZ First on 29%. National’s current leadership has said it won’t form a coalition with Te Pāti Māori if that option comes up.

Almost half of the respondents (47%) thought they would be worse off under a National-ACT government.

And, if Te Pāti Māori held the balance of power, 59% of these voters wanted it to choose Labour against 20% for National.

The poll also raised the stakes on the preferred party.

Labour and Te Pāti Māori are neck and neck, both polling at 26% followed by National on 14%, Green Party 8%, New Zealand First 6% and ACT 5%. Undecided were 7% and 2% refused to say.

Cost of living has been the most important issue across the polling of four Māori electorates to date. In Hauraki-Waikato, cost of living at 30% was followed by economy 10%, jobs 9%, housing 6% and health 5%.

The preferred prime minister was Chris Hipkins 33%, Christopher Luxon 12%, Winston Peters 9% and Rawiri Waititi, 8%.

Polling was completed on Wednesday, September 27. A total of 500 registered voters in Hauraki-Waikato were polled by landline, mobile and online with a margin of error of plus or minus 4.4 per cent at the 95% confidence level.

More Māori electorate debates will be held on air and online, MĀORI+ and