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Labour sweep to victory in East Coast and Ikaroa-Rawhiti

"Too much whanau" - is how new East Coast MP Kiri Allan started her victory speech tonight.

It was 10.24pm when she said, "It's 82 percent (of the vote is in) and we have won.

"East Coast is Labour's again".

National started the day defending the East Coast electorate with a 2017 majority of 4807.

But Deputy Speaker of the House and former cabinet minister Anne Tolley, who held the seat since 2005, retired from politics, with newcomer Tania Tapsell running against locally-based Labour List MP Kiri Allan who stood against Mrs Tolley three years ago.

Ms Allan, who stood unsuccessfully against National's Anne Tolley in 2017, said she had run a two-election cycle with the aim of turning the East Coast to Labour.

The campaign had started four-and-a-half years ago.

She said she had had established herself and run a "hard on the ground' campaign.

She paid tribute to her campaign team based across Opotiki, Whakatane and Gisborne .

There had been more than 20,000 direct voter contacts including 6008 in the final week and 2540 on election day.

The election, with a postponement because of the second outbreak of Covid-19, had been a hard slog".

With 93.3 percent of votes counted Ms Allan is 4547 votes ahead of National's Tania Tapsell

Ms Allan is also celebrating the re-election of the Labour Government.

The victory was due to the strong leadership of Jacinda Ardern, she said.

There had been a spectacular turnout, which reflected what she had been hearing on the ground.

"People are pleased with the way she has been leading our country."

The electorate wanted stability during uncertain times.

"They are confident that (Finance Minister) Grant Robertson can do his numbers," she said with a laugh.

"And his numbers add up."

Ms Allan said Covid-19 had been a game change for the world.

"You need a strong team who could pull you through that."

Her supporters in Labour's headquarters, named The Hub, (the former Dollar Dream shop) were jubilant because of the party's performance across the country.

Tapsell said the result was a surprise and it hurt, but she was more disappointed for the constituents in the electorate.

"We've seen how much the Government hurt the East Coast in the last three years and I don't believe they will deliver in the next three years."

She said she would take the time to recharge the batteries and reflect on the campaign before being back at it.

"I'm not going anywhere."

In the Ikaroa-Rawhiti electorate Labour's Meka Whaitiri has a 4975-vote lead over the Maori Party's candidate Heather Te Au- Skipworth, with 95.5 percent of votes counted.

RED TIDE: Kiri Allan and supporters in Gisborne. Picture by Paul Rickard
National candidate Tania Tapsell in Whakatane. Picture by Zizi Sparks