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2015 Northland by-election

A by-election was held in the Northland electorate on 28 March 2015. The seat had been vacated following the resignation of Mike Sabin of the National Party from the House of Representatives on 30 January 2015. Northland was generally regarded as a safe National seat; the party has held the seat since its creation for the 1996 election. The election was won by Winston Peters of New Zealand First. As Peters was already a list MP for his party, this allowed New Zealand First an additional list member, Ria Bond, to join parliament.

2015 Northland by-election

← 2014 general 28 March 2015 2017 general →
Turnout29,590 (64.39%)
  Winston Peters cropped.PNG No image.png Willow-Jean Prime.jpg
Candidate Winston Peters Mark Osborne Willow-Jean Prime
Party NZ First National Labour
Popular vote 16,089 11,648 1,380
Percentage 54.5% 39.4% 4.7%

Northland electorate, 2014.svg
Northland electorate boundaries used for the by-election

MP before election

Mike Sabin

Elected MP

Winston Peters
New Zealand First


In December 2014 New Zealand media reported that Northland MP Mike Sabin was under investigation by police over an assault complaint. The reports were not confirmed by the New Zealand Police, the Prime Minister or Sabin himself.[1][2][3][4]

Sabin resigned from parliament on 30 January 2015 with immediate effect "due to personal issues that were best dealt with outside Parliament."[5]

Northland electorateEdit

The boundaries of the Northland electorate are largely determined by the Northland coastline. The electorate extends from a line between Leigh on the east coast and the Kaipara Harbour on the west coast (including Wellsford) to Cape Reinga, but excludes Whangarei and environs. The major communities include Kaitaia, Russell, Kerikeri, Kaikohe, Dargaville and Mangawhai Heads.[6]

The Northland electorate experienced low population growth between the censuses in 2006 and 2013 (1.2%). Among general electorates Northland had the second-largest proportion of those from the Māori ethnic group (37.1%), as well as those who could speak Māori (10.4%). It had the highest share of: those who worked from home on census day 2013 (18.1%); those affiliated with the Ratana (Māori Christian) faith (4.7%); those affiliated with the Brethren religion (1.3%). Among general electorates in 2013, Northland had the second-lowest median family income ($51,400), and the lowest proportion of wage and salary workers (31.5%).[6]


Eleven candidates contested the by-election.

The National Party confirmed that it would contest the by-election, with Mark Osborne selected as candidate.[7][8][9] National Party board member Grant McCallum also contested National's selection, along with Mita Harris, Matt King, and Karen Rolleston.[10]

Willow-Jean Prime, a Far North District councillor who contested the Northland electorate for the Labour Party at the 2014 election, was again Labour's candidate.[10][11][12]

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters contested the by-election.[13] Labour leader Andrew Little opined that Peters, aged 69 at the time of the election, would be too old for many voters to select as their new electorate MP.[14] This was rejected by 85% of respondents to a 3 News and Reid Research poll.[15] The Prime Minister, John Key, stated that Peters had "zero chance" in the National Party stronghold, but softened his stance within days when the first opinion polls came out that had Peters at 35%, whilst Osborne sat at 30%.[16]

Reuben Porter was the Mana Movement candidate.[17]

Robin Grieve was the ACT candidate. Joe Carr contested the election for Focus New Zealand while Maki Herbert represented the Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party and Rob Painting the Climate Party.[17]

Adam Holland, Adrian Bonner and Bruce Rogan were independent candidates.[17] Holland had previously stood in the 2013 Christchurch East by-election, the 2013 Ikaroa-Rawhiti by-election and in Epsom at the 2014 general election.[18]

Opinion pollingEdit

Party Candidate TV3/Reid Research
2–4 March[15][19][20]
One News/Colmar Brunton
3–6 March[21]
TV3/Reid Research
19–22 March[22]
One News/Colmar Brunton
22–25 March[23]
NZ First Winston Peters 35% 36% 54% 53%
National Mark Osborne 30% 36% 34% 36%
Labour Willow-Jean Prime 16% 20% 10% 9%
Other/Don't know 19% 8% 2% 2%
Sample size 500 500 500 501
Maximum margin of error 4.4% 4.4% 4.4% 4.4%


The following table shows final by-election results:[24]

2015 Northland 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 % ±%
NZ First Winston Peters 16,089 54.45 +54.45
National Mark Osborne 11,648 39.42 −13.32
Labour Willow-Jean Prime 1,380 4.67 −21.22
Focus Joe Carr 113 0.38 −4.41
Legalise Cannabis Maki Herbert 94 0.32 +0.32
ACT Robin Grieve 68 0.23 −0.35
Mana Reuben Porter 60 0.20 +0.20
Climate Rob Painting 39 0.13 +0.13
Independent Bruce Rogan 24 0.08 +0.08
Independent Adrian Bonner 17 0.06 +0.06
Independent Adam Holland 16 0.05 +0.05
Informal votes 42 0.14 −1.05
Total Valid votes 29,548
Turnout 29,590 64.39 −14.51
Registered electors 45,955
NZ First gain from National Majority 4,441 15.03


  1. ^ Bennett, Adam (22 December 2014). "Cloud over National MP's future". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 31 January 2015.
  2. ^ Lomas, David (21 December 2014). "National MP Mike Sabin in police assault inquiry". Retrieved 31 January 2015.
  3. ^ Bennett, Adam (22 December 2014). "Sabin in the spotlight as assault allegation surfaces". The Northern Advocate. Retrieved 31 January 2015.
  4. ^ "Police tight-lipped about assault allegation". Radio New Zealand. 21 December 2014. Retrieved 31 January 2015.
  5. ^ "Mike Sabin announces resignation as Northland MP" (Press release). New Zealand National Party. Scoop. 30 January 2015. Retrieved 30 January 2015.
  6. ^ a b "Northland electorate profile". Parliamentary Library. June 2015. Retrieved 19 December 2016.  This article incorporates text by the Parliamentary Library available under the CC BY 3.0 license.
  7. ^ Osborne wins National candidacy The New Zealand Herald, 28 February 2015
  8. ^ "Northland MP Mike Sabin resigns". The Northern Advocate. 30 January 2015. Retrieved 30 January 2015.
  9. ^ "Northland by-election date set". The New Zealand Herald. 2 February 2015. Retrieved 2 February 2015.
  10. ^ a b Hopefuls line up for Northland Radio New Zealand, 9 February 2015
  11. ^ Armstrong, John (3 February 2015). "Little joy looms for Labour in byelection". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 3 February 2015.
  12. ^ Rutherford, Hamish (9 February 2015). "Peters says Northland seat 'winnable'". Retrieved 10 February 2015.
  13. ^ "National nightmare: Winston Peters takes aim at Mike Sabin's Northland seat". The New Zealand Herald. 27 February 2015. Retrieved 27 February 2015.
  14. ^ "Winston Peters is too 'twilight' for Northlanders - Andrew Little". One News. Television New Zealand. 3 March 2015. Retrieved 5 March 2015.
  15. ^ a b Gower, Patrick (5 March 2015). "Peters on track to win Northland seat". 3 News. Retrieved 5 March 2015.
  16. ^ "Key rethinking Northland". The Press. 7 March 2015. p. A2.
  17. ^ a b c "Information for Northland Voters". Electoral Commission. Retrieved 5 March 2015.
  18. ^ "Election 2014: 11 votes later, candidate's vanished". The New Zealand Herald. 22 September 2014. Retrieved 19 March 2015.
  19. ^ "Poll puts Peters ahead in Northland". Fairfax New Zealand. 5 March 2015. Archived from the original on 6 April 2015. Retrieved 5 March 2015.
  20. ^ Trevett, Claire (5 March 2015). "Winston Peters an early favourite for Northland byelection - poll". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 5 March 2015.
  21. ^ "Q+A Colmar Brunton Northland poll" (PDF). Colmar Brunton. 8 March 2015.
  22. ^ Gower, Patrick (25 March 2015). "Northland by-election: Peters way out in front". 3 News. Retrieved 25 March 2015.
  23. ^ "One News Colmar Brunton Northland by-election poll" (PDF). Colmar Brunton. 26 March 2015. Archived (PDF) from the original on 26 March 2015. Retrieved 26 March 2015.
  24. ^ "Northland by-election official results". Electoral Commission. Retrieved 4 December 2016.