Māori party gets biggest poll win in decade

By Will Trafford

Te Pāti Māori has had its highest poll result in over a decade, making it a potential kingmaker at the next general election, as support erodes for a National/ ACT coalition.

A Roy Morgan poll released on Tuesday has Te Pāti Māori landing four percent of the vote (up from 2.5 percent in June), amid a slump in support for National, down four percentage points (to 35 percent) in July .

“This is the highest level of support for the Māori Party in well over a decade since April 2010 when John Key was the prime minister,” Roy Morgan chief executive Michele Levine said.

“Support for the Māori Party is strongest among young people, with 9% of women aged 18-49 and 4% of men aged 18-49 supporting the party.”

National’s drop comes as leader Christopher Luxon was critiqued for social media posts claiming he was working in Te Puke, while he was in fact holidaying in Hawaii. 

To become prime minister, Luxon and National would need Te Pāti Māori or Greens' support.

Closest since November

“The lead for a potential National/Act NZ (46%) coalition over the governing Labour/Greens government (44.5%) is now at just 1.5% points – the closest the two sides have been since Christopher Luxon took over as National leader at the end of November 2021,” Levine said.

“The mishandling of Luxon’s family holiday and the related social media posts brings to the fore the key issues of trust.”

Levine says if the recent weeks’ ‘missteps’ result in people distrusting Luxon, that’s likely to again be pulled into focus leading up to the next election.

“Jacinda Ardern has built her leadership on being the person New Zealanders can trust to deal with challenges as varied as the Covid-19 pandemic, the Christchurch shooting and various natural disasters to strike the country such as the eruption of the White Island volcano," Levine said.

“He [Luxon] will come under renewed scrutiny as an alternative Prime Minister heading towards next year’s election.’

Long drop for Labour

Levine cautioned against complacency in the current government, saying while confidence in its abilities rose two percentage points in July, it is down 31.5 points from a year ago.

“In July only 40.5% (up 1.5% points) of electors said New Zealand was ‘heading in the right direction’ compared to 51% (down 0.5% points) who said New Zealand was ‘heading in the wrong direction’.”

Labour rose just 0.5 of a point in the latest poll of voters, while ACT rose 1.5 points.

Support for parties outside Parliament dropped 1.5 points to 5.5 percent.

New Zealand First was unchanged at 1.5 percent, the Opportunities Party was up 0.5 of a point to 2.5 percent and support for the New Conservative Party was up 0.5 of a point to 1 percent.

Public Interest Journalism, funded through NZ On Air