Pacific M.P.s surge; Ardern to form Govt.

Pacific representation in New Zealand’s Parliament surged in Labour's re-election victory as Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was on Sunday preparing to form Government. 

A total of 11 Pacific Island kiwi M.P.s, most of them Samoan, were elected in the country's national poll, held on Saturday. 

They are now set to play their part in the process of the country forming a new Government in Parliament in the coming weeks. 

The total represents three more Pacific Members of Parliament than the last election and comes despite National Party members Alfred Ngaro and Agnes Loheni losing their seats. 

Saturday's was an historic election night, with Labour winning 64 seats - or three more to form majority Government - and holding an unprecedented majority for one party since New Zealand adopted the Mixed Member Proportional system in 1996.

"My expectation is that we will form Government within the next two to three weeks," Ms. Ardern told reporters on Sunday afternoon in televised remarks. 

The previous night Ms. Ardern said she would implement Labour's election manifesto, but would not be drawn on whether she would seek to form Government the Green Party, which won 10 seats in Parliament.

Teanau Tuiono, a Cook Islander and Maori from Palmerston North, is celebrating a landmark win too as the first ever Green Party representative of Pacific heritage.

Labour's caucus will meet tomorrow. Ardern said she wanted to "talk to the Greens" but "the mandate does exist for Labour". She said there was a range of options for agreements with the Greens.

The Labour Party has a seven-strong Samoan contingent, with incumbents Aupito William Sio, Carmel Sepuloni, and Kris Faafoi all re-elected to their electorates.

Ms. Ardern said she believed the party had exceeded her expectations insofar as the mandate it had received from the voters of New Zealand. 

"It did exceed my expectations. I think that is fair to say," she said.

They are joined by newcomers Anae Dr. Neru Leavasa in Takanini, Barbara Edmonds in Mana, and Terisa Ngobi in Otaki, wresting the seat from National by a slight margin. 

Labour may be bringing Lemauga Lydia Sosene into Parliament as a List M.P., who has had a long career in local Government in Auckland. 

Also in Labour’s team are Cook Islanders Poto Williams and Tangi Utikere, and Tongan incumbents Anahila Kanongata'a Suisuiki and Jenny Salesa.

National, though suffering its biggest defeat in more than 15 years has managed to keep 35 seats in the next Parliament. 

Neither of its two Pacific M.P.s, Cook Islander Alfred Ngaro nor MENA fashion house owner Agnes Loheni have made it into the next Parliament.

The party will meet in Wellington on Tuesday. 

Leader Judith Collins said she expected to stay on as the party's leader, despite the result. 

“It was always going to be a very big ask, particularly taking over in the circumstances that I did and the second lockdown,” Collins said.

In 2017, eight Pacific people won a seat in Parliament, most of whom kept their spots this election. 

With all votes but the special votes counted, Labour has won 49 per cent of the vote, and National 27 per cent. They will have 26 electorate seats and nine List seats. The special votes will be counted in two weeks’ time and may influence some results. 

Labour won the party vote in all but four electorates, and won the party vote across the entire South Island. 

The Green Party have 7.6 per cent of the vote and one electorate seat, with Chloe Swarbrick winning Auckland Central by just 492 votes. They will bring in nine other List M.P.s, including Mr. Tuiono. 

Act Part also won just one seat, with leader David Seymour holding his position in Epsom. But with eight per cent of the vote they bring nine more List M.P.s to Parliament, all of them for the first time.  None are of Pacific heritage.

* with James Robertson, agencies

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