Māori Party candidate Te Ururoa Flavell currently trails Labour’s Tamati Coffey in the Waiariki seat that carried the Māori Party to government in 2014.
Flavell has held the Waiariki seat since 2005, beating contenders including Mita Ririnui, Annette Sykes and Louis Te Kani to the seat and ensuring seats in parliament for the Māori Party in the process.
The 2014 general election saw Flavell win the Waiariki electorate seat and the party was entitled to one further list seat (to be occupied by the next person on the party list, Marama Fox) as they received 1.3% of the party vote.
However, Labour candidate Tamati Coffey, who trailed Flavell by 20% in Māori Television’s exclusive polling this year, appears to have harnessed the much-heralded ‘youth quake’ of rangatahi energised by Jacinda Ardern’s leadership, and is currently ahead in Waiariki by a small margin.
A generational divide appears to be behind Coffey's surge, with the majority of supporters between the ages of 18-34 years old supporting Coffey in Māori Television’s poll. Voters in the 35+ age-bracket favour Flavell, with support for the Māori Party candidate most pronounced among those aged 55+.
The loss of Waiariki would be disastrous for the Māori Party, members of which are trailing their Labour counterparts in all of the Māori electorates. The Māori Party currently has 1.1% of the party vote, well below the 5% required to enter parliament without an electoral candidate win.