Fifth win the toughest yet
AFTER her most difficult campaign so far, MP Anne Tolley was delighted to retain the East Coast electorate seat for National.
Speaking at the Emerald Hotel on Saturday night, she said it had been a challenging contest for both her and the party.
Mrs Tolley, husband Allan and supporters celebrated a win that took her into a record-equalling fifth term in government for an electorate MP for this district.
Mrs Tolley said she loved representing the East Coast but because of its geographical spread, it was one of the most difficult electorates in the country.
The win gave her the opportunity to continue working for it and she believed National had the policies that would enable it to go forward.
Things had looked bleak for National earlier in the campaign but she had always felt people believed the country was on the right track, a feeling that was reinforced as she campaigned through the electorate.
While her personal majority had fallen, she was delighted the party vote for National was so strong.
“I said to people if you are only going to give me one vote, give me your party vote.
“People did not really feel that the opposition had good reason to change and that was really what I saw when I was campaigning here.”
Nervous waitEarlier in the night it was a nervous wait for Mrs Tolley, with East Coast being one of the slowest electorates for results. Scrutineers told her that was probably because of a high number of special votes in the Eastern Bay of Plenty area.
In the end she had a winning margin of 4653 for the night over Labour’s Kiri Allan, down 3281 votes from a 7934 margin over Moana Mackey in 2014.
This gave her five wins for the electorate and took her past Esme Tombleson, National’s previous most successful woman MP here.
Those were “big boots to fill”, Mrs Tolley said.
Her victory equals the five-term achievement of David “Billy” Coleman, who was first elected as the Gisborne electorate MP in 1931 and was re-elected in 1935 as part of the first Labour government. He won subsequent terms in 1938, 1943 and 1946.
The longest-serving MP from this region was Sir James Carroll, representing Eastern Maori, Waiapu and Gisborne, who won 10 elections from 1887 to 1914. Sir James served twice as acting prime minister in the 1891-1912 Liberal government.
Mrs Tolley acknowledged National had got a bit of a fright and felt that Labour’s leadership change to Jacinda Ardern had an impact, but it also galvanised the National Party.
“I think there was a bit of complacency. It looked pretty boring and Jacinda changed that.
“I think that's a good thing. It's good that it was a contest.”
She was disappointed the Maori Party would not be in Parliament after the election. She had enjoyed working with them.
Mrs Tolley, who has been in Cabinet since 2008, was non-committal on what her role might be in a new government.
She would wait for a phone call from the Prime Minister.
She had a lot of praise for Mr English. She had known him for a long time. People had realised what sort of man he was and she was proud to be part of his team.
Mrs Tolley agreed with her leader that the 10 percentage point majority over Labour gave National the moral authority to form the next government.