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Palmerston North Labour MP Tangi Utikere visits the Healthy Lunches project at Freyberg High School.

Palmerston North Labour MP Tangi Utikere visits a Healthy Lunches project in his electorate..

Photo/ RNZ/ Tushar Gaikwad

Politics

MP expects final election result to swing slightly in Labour's favour

Tangi Utikere is hopeful the special votes give Labour one or two more seats when results are announced this Friday.

Justin Latif
Justin Latif
Published
01 November 2023, 10:37pm
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With the final count of the 2023 general election set to be announced this Friday at 2pm, one Labour MP is hopeful one or two more of his party colleagues will be added to the parliament's opposition benches.

Cook Islands Labour MP Tangi Utikere appeared on 531pi’s Pacific Mornings to reflect on his government’s election loss and preview the Electoral Commission's upcoming election announcement, once the estimated 567,000 special votes have been tallied.

Watch the full interview below:

He says his party should pick up a couple of MPs, including the Te Atatū seat which is currently held by National's Angee Nicholas - who is also of Cook Islands descent - by just 30 votes.

“We have just a few more days now till those special votes come in, and there are a number of seats that are on tenterhooks, some really thin margins there, and so I'm really hopeful they might flip.”

Utikere, who retained his seat of Palmerston North, says voters may be concerned to learn there will be a distinct lack of Pacific representation in the new coalition, given the likelihood that none of National’s Pacific candidates will be in the final makeup of the new government - and neither NZ First or ACT have MPs of Pacific descent.

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“I’m proud to be part of a party that put Pacific representation front and centre, so this is something our Pacific communities should be aware of and attuned to," says the former Palmerston North mayor.

"Any government that does not have a direct voice into our Pacific communities is not going to be able to deliver directly into the communities for which it will serve.”

Regardless of how many special votes Labour picks up, it’s almost certain the party will be on the opposition benches for the next three years. But Utikere says that he and his colleagues will remain focused on representing their local communities.

“Yes we’ve got some work to do. But rest assured that the members of the Pacific caucus in the Labour team are absolutely dedicated and determined to engage with our communities because there is so much at risk over the next three years.

And what he's particularly concerned about is those who will be affected by National’s proposed cuts to core services.

“What’s really quite sad is when we see some of the government’s plans rolled out,” he says.

“I’m proud of the fact that in Palmerston North for the first time in decades we’re building housing that is housing for our Pacific community and others, and that will all cease under this government and so I think it won’t be until that happens that people will realise what this change is all about and it’s not a good one.”

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