Former league star, Howie Tamati, is defying Labour’s charge on Māori voters in his electorate of Te Tai Hauāuru.
Tamati is the first to score above any Labour Party candidate in any of the Māori seats in Māori Television’s exclusive polling of the Māori seats.
The poll reveals Tamati has snatched the lead, with 52% of voters supporting him as the Preferred Candidate in the western electorate of Te Tai Hauāuru.
Labour's incumbent MP, Adrian Rurawhe, is 13 points behind on 39%.
The third candidate, Jack McDonald for the Greens scores 9.1%.
Howie says, "I'm very pleased with that it's very uplifting I'm so proud that so many people are supporting me right now."
Across the age groups, Tamati is offside with first-time voters aged 18-24 with just 16.7% but is converting the faithful with 53.5% support among ages 35-44 and 55.1% ages 55-64.
Rurawhe is winning the youth with 50% support among 18-24; but losing ground among 35-44 at 37.2% and 37.2% for 55-64.
McDonald also connects with youth at 33.3% among 18-24 but is then out of the match at 9.3% among 35-44 and 7.7% for 55-64.
The poll canvassed 400 voters between July and August with a margin of error of 4.89%.
The results are a turnover for the Māori Party who have struggled to defend against the change of Labour leadership and the rise of Jacinda Ardern.
Labour still owns the scoreboard as Preferred Party with 41.8% support in Te Tai Hauāuru.
The Māori Party are the underdogs at 24%. National and NZ First are battling at 11.2% and 11% respectively. The Greens chase at 9.1% with the Opportunities Party and Mana Movement both on 1.3%.
Labour has less than four weeks to halt Tamati’s run.
But Rurawhe has a slick campaign team on his side who operate in slow burn and are known to pull out the guns in the final quarter. For now, its man on man. The rest are becoming spectators.
Join Māori Television at 8pm tonight for Election Aotearoa’s first debates of the Māori seats, where Tamati and Rurawhe will go head-to-head for Te Tai Hauāuru.