2011 Te Tai Tokerau by-election

The 2011 Te Tai Tokerau by-election was a by-election in the New Zealand electorate of Te Tai Tokerau that was caused by Hone Harawira's resignation from the seat. He chose to re-contest it with the Mana Party in order to seek a new mandate for his views.[1] After generating several days of media interest and criticism[2][3] Harawira announced on 4 May 2011 that[4] he was delaying his resignation in order to consult his supporters in his electorate.[5] On 11 May 2011 Harawira wrote to the Speaker of the House to resign from Parliament, with effect from 20 May 2011.[6] On 12 May 2011 the Prime Minister John Key announced that the by-election would be held on 25 June.[7]

2011 Te Tai Tokerau by-election

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  Hone Harawira (cropped).jpg Kelvin Davis, Labour party MP (cropped).jpg
Candidate Hone Harawira Kelvin Davis Solomon Tipene
Party Mana Labour Māori
Popular vote 6,065 4,948 1,087
Percentage 49.28 40.20 8.83

Te tai tokerau electorate 2008.png

MP before election

Hone Harawira

Elected MP

Hone Harawira


Many politicians and political commentators criticised the by-election because it would occur so close to the 2011 New Zealand general election. Under New Zealand law, a by-election will not be held if there will be a general election within the next six months and 75% of MPs agree not to hold the by-election. So if Harawira had resigned later than 26 May then the by-election may not have occurred.

Harawira defended the by-election, which cost an estimated $500,000, by saying "It's hardly an expense in terms of democracy."[8]


The New Zealand political blogging community viewed some aspects of the by-election as being very similar to the 1993 Tauranga by-election. That by-election was held on 17 April and the subsequent general election on 7 November, after Winston Peters resigned first from the National Party, following disagreements with its leadership, and then as an MP in order to seek a "fresh mandate" for his views.[9] The Tauranga by-election was labelled by media and opposing parties as a 'Publicity stunt',[10] as was this by-election.[11]

Claire Trevett of The New Zealand Herald saw Harawira's resignation to force the election as "a direct echo" of Tariana Turia's resignation to force the 2004 Te Tai Hauauru by-election.[12] However, Turia called her by-election 14 months before the 2005 New Zealand general election actually took place at a time when the election date had not been set. Harawira's by-election took place within six months of a general election.


Five candidates stood in the by-election. Besides Hone Harawira standing for the Mana Party, the Māori Party selected Solomon Tipene as its candidate[13][14][15] (choosing him over Waihoroi Shortland and Mere Mangu for the nomination[16]). Kelvin Davis stood for the Labour Party. Kelvyn Alp contested the by-election for the OurNZ Party while Maki Herbert stood for the Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party.[17][18]


Counting commenced at 7:00pm on election day, with preliminary results due by 10:00pm. Official results were declared on Wednesday 6 July 2011. With 32,855 people enrolled to vote, turnout was 37.56%.[19]

2011 Te Tai Tokerau by-election

Notes: Blue background denotes the winner of the by-election.
Pink background denotes a candidate elected from their party list prior to the by-election.
Yellow background denotes the winner of the by-election, who was a list MP prior to the by-election.
A  Y or  N denotes status of any incumbent, win or lose respectively.

Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Mana  Y Hone Harawira 6,065 49.28
Labour Kelvin Davis 4,948 40.20
Māori Solomon Tipene 1,087 8.83
Legalise Cannabis Maki Herbert 135 1.10
OurNZ Kelvyn Alp 72 0.59
Informal votes 32
Total Valid votes 12,307
Mana gain from Māori Majority 1,117 9.08


  1. ^ "Hone Harawira launches new party". Stuff. 30 April 2011. Retrieved 2 May 2011.
  2. ^ "Financial windfall if MP re-elected". New Zealand Herald. 4 May 2011. Retrieved 4 May 2011.
  3. ^ "Harawira's resignation a 'stunt' - PM". New Zealand Herald. 2 May 2011. Retrieved 2 May 2011.
  4. ^ "Harawira seeking advice on by-election". Scoop. 4 May 2011. Retrieved 4 May 2011.
  5. ^ "Harawira delays resignation". New Zealand Herald. 3 May 2011. Retrieved 3 May 2011.
  6. ^ "Harawira resigns from Parliament". 11 May 2011. Retrieved 11 May 2011.
  7. ^ "Te Tai Tokerau byelection date announced". The New Zealand Herald. 12 May 2011. Retrieved 12 May 2011.
  8. ^ Powley, Kathryn (1 May 2011). "Mana Party's $500,000 bill". The New Zealand Herald. APN News & Media. Retrieved 1 May 2011.
  9. ^ "Practical Considerations". Retrieved 2 May 2011.
  10. ^ "Tauranga lost but Peters still there". TVNZ News. TVNZ Interactive. 17 September 2005. Retrieved 2 May 2001.
  11. ^ "Harawira delays resignation". The New Zealand Herald. 4 May 2011. Retrieved 8 May 2011.
  12. ^ Trevett, Claire (28 April 2011). "Harawira weighs up forcing early vote". The New Zealand Herald. APN News & Media. Retrieved 1 May 2011.
  13. ^ Chapman, Kate (10 May 2011). "Harawira seat likely three-way contest". Stuff.co.nz. Retrieved 19 November 2011.
  14. ^ Solomon Tipene : A Man who can deliver for Te Tai Tokerau Press Release: Māori Party (via Scoop.co.nz), 25 May 2011
  15. ^ "Candidate keen to stabilise electorate". Waatea603am.co.nz. 25 May 2011. Retrieved 11 December 2011.[permanent dead link]
  16. ^ Maori Party Close to Announcing Candidate for Te Tai Tokerau scoop.co.nz, 22 May 2011
  17. ^ "Kelvyn Alp To Contest Te Tai Tokerau By-Election". Press Release: OurNZ Party (via Scoop.co.nz). 14 May 2011.
  18. ^ Te Tai Tokerau by-election candidates announced Archived 6 June 2011 at the Wayback Machine elections.org.nz, 31 May 2011
  19. ^ "2011 Te Tai Tokerau by election stats". New Zealand Electoral Commission. 6 July 2011. Retrieved 14 July 2011.