Whakatau 2023 | Waiariki

Poll: Rawiri Waititi takes clear lead to hold Waiariki

Often controversial and dramatic Te Pāti Māori co-leader Rawiri Waititi is looking likely to keep his Waiariki seat despite a strong bid by first-time Labour candidate, Toni Boynton.

Waititi has taken a secure lead in an exclusive Whakaata Māori poll of the electorate late last week, with 50%, well ahead of Boynton on 22% and Vision NZ’s Charles Hunia at 1%, with 15% unsure.

Polling of the previous five Māori electorates revealed similar or larger undecided numbers (Ikaroa-Rāwhiti has 29%) but in those cases, the candidates are so close that their elections will depend on how many undecided vote.

Boynton led the fight to win Māori seats on local bodies but this is her first foray into national politics.

Waititi beat Labour’s Tamati Coffey in the 2020 election, then made a name for himself as the first tāne with a moko kanohi in Parliament, then fighting the parliamentary dress code of ties in the House, in favour of taonga.

He gets much of his support from younger voters; 63% of 18 to 39-year-olds favoured him over Boynton at 23%. He also picks up 49% from 40 to 59-year-olds to Boynton’s 15%. But voters over 60 were less keen, offering only 33% support to Waititi and 31% to Boynton.

On the party vote, Waiariki voters followed the same trend as the other five Māori electorates, mostly supporting Labour. In this case, with 37% but with 29% for Te Pāti Māori. Some 8% of Waiariki voters were unsure, followed by the Greens on 7%, National 6%, New Zealand First 4% and ACT 3%.

Unsurprisingly, given the Labour trend, 67% said if Te Pāti Māori held the balance of power, it should support Labour. Only 15% chose National, 13% said neither and 5% were unsure.

If Labour were to form the next government, Waiariki voters opted for Te Pāti Māori as a coalition partner at 54% but also wanted the Greens at 44%. NZ First was a distant third at 13%. Women were keener (62% and 50%) than men (44% and 37%) for both Te Pati Maori and the Greens.

By age group Te Pāti Māori most appealed to 18 to 39-year-olds (65%), 57% to 40 to 59-year-olds and 31% to over-60s. They were more evenly split on the Greens, with 48% for the younger voters, 42% for the over-40s and 42% for the over-60s.

Asked if they would be better or worse off under a Labour- Greens-Te Pāti Māori government, 55% thought they would be better off, 20% worse off and 18% saw no difference.

If National forms the next government, respondents chose Te Pāti Māori as a coalition partner at 36%, followed by ACT at 22%, Greens 20% and NZ First 18%. In the other Māori electorates, most have rejected ACT as a coalition partner for the Nats, so this 22% stands out.

But 61% of respondents thought they would be worse off under a National-ACT government and 17% better off.

The other Māori electorates all rated Chris Hipkins as their preferred prime minister but Waiariki, polled last Thursday, may be offering him a Covid-sympathy card at 30% compared to Chris Luxon’s 11% and Rawiri Waititi’s 21%.

The most important issue for Waiariki respondents is cost of living at 34%. Other major issues were poverty at 9% and housing at 6% each.

Polling was conducted by Curia Market Research completed on Thursday, October 5. A total of 500 registered voters in Waiariki 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.

The final Māori electorate poll, Tāmaki Makaurau, will be released tomorrow when four candidates go head-to-head in an extended one-and-a-half-hour special on Whakaata Māori tomorrow night, Tuesday 10 October, at 7pm.

WHAKATAU 2023 runs on Whakaata Māori on election night from 7pm on October 14 on air and online, MĀORI+ and, and post-election highlights will feature at 11am on Sunday, October 15.