28 February 2024

Pendulum swings in National’s favour as Tama Potaka wins Ham West seat

National Party’s has wrested back Hamilton West seat that the party lost in 2020 general elections to Labour with their candidate, Tama Potaka cruising to victory scoring 6,433 votes with 13,990 (97.1 per cent) of the vote counted.

Potaka’s nearest rival, Labour party’s Georgie Dansey’s secured 4,230 and lost by a margin of 2203 votes.

Tama Potaka
Win for Tama Pataka

Act Party’s James McDowall, and former Labour MP, Gaurav Sharma secured 1420 and 1136 votes respectively when the last reports came in.

Voting closed today at 7pm, and preliminary results started trickling in immediately thereafter. Right from the start, Potaka was in the lead.

There were 12 candidates vying for the by-election seat, but towards the closing days of the campaign, it was becoming clear that the race was mainly between Red and Blues.

Tama Potaka, who is based in Auckland, was the chief executive of Ngāi Tai ki Tāmaki. Before starting this role, he worked as a senior advisor to the NZ Super Fund. He spent more than seven years as a general manager at Tainui Group Holdings in Hamilton. He played a pivotal role in many of Tainui’s developments in the city and driving results for Waikato.

National has won this seat 10 times so far, and Labour eight. Gaurav Sharma won 53% of the vote in 2020 with a margin of 6267 votes and Labour won 52.2 percent of the party vote in this seat.

A Curia poll had indicated a win by National’s Tama Potaka, yet the party leader, Chris Luxon was non-committal at that time, saying “It’s going to be really, really close,” he said.

With dwindling popularity due to rising crime, living costs, etc, a victory for Labour was essential, to boost its image – especially with general elections looming ahead.

But today’s victory for National would now enhance Chris Luxon’s popularity as a leader.

Now as Potaka heads to Wellington to represent Hamilton West constituency, time will tell whether he is able to consolidate his gain and emerge victorious again in the next election.

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