Elections last year in other English-speaking countries got me thinking about the urban implications of political geography. The US presidential election and the UK’s Brexit vote both featured large divides in voting patterns between big cities and rural areas and small towns.

As the Economist observed, the US electoral map actually consists of a whole bunch of Democratic-voting urban areas and Republican-voting rural areas, rather than red and blue states. Even in Texas, which votes consistently Republican, Houston voted massively for the Democratic candidate. The red areas in this map are mostly empty:

And as the BBC observed, the vote against Brexit was strongest in London, a few other large cities like Manchester, and Scotland, while smaller towns and rural areas went the other way.

As much as anything, this speaks of a cultural and political divide between urban and non-urban areas. Many people have written tedious articles on this issue, implicitly claiming that this area or that represents “Real America” or “Real Britain”. (My perspective: If you have a definition of “Real America” that excludes large cities, you’re doing it wrong because most Americans live in large cities.)

I don’t want to get into that debate here. Instead, I want to ask: Is the same thing happening in New Zealand? Are our large cities – Auckland, Wellington, and Christchurch – diverging from the rest of the country?

Demographically, Auckland is different. It’s faster-growing than the rest of the country, as is Christchurch. It has more young people, and more people who were born overseas. (Many of whom have come to identify as New Zealanders and share New Zealand values.) But is there evidence that Aucklanders think differently than people elsewhere?

Electoral returns provide valuable information on peoples’ preferences and values. Peoples’ votes reflect, to a degree, how they see the world and what they value. Consequently, I’ve analysed data from the last six New Zealand general elections (1999-2014) to understand how big-city New Zealanders compare to the rest.

Over this time, political parties’ fortunes have swung dramatically. The National Party’s share of party votes has been as low as 21% and as high as 47%, while Labour’s has been as low as 25% and as high as 41%. The Greens doubled their vote share over this period, from 5% to 11%, while NZ First came back from a brush with death due to a 4% party vote. Other parties – the Alliance, ACT, United Future – have ceased to exist or survived only as single-MP zombie parties.

Consequently, I’m most interested in changes in party vote shares in different places. That will tell us whether big-city Kiwis are responding to changes in parties’ perceived competence, policies, and the general economic and social environment as rural and small-town Kiwis.

The following chart summarises the share of party votes that National received in Auckland (23 electorates in 2014), Wellington (6 electorates), and Christchurch (5 electorates). I’ve started with National as it got the most party votes in the most recent election. This graph shows that:

  • Auckland tends to vote for National at a similar rate to small-town and rural New Zealand
  • Wellington, on the other hand, has diverged – it has been substantially less National-leaning than non-urban parts of the country since 2005
  • Prior to 2011, Christchurch also seemed to be less National-leaning, but this gap has closed since the earthquakes.

Here’s a similar graph for the Labour Party. This time, Auckland has matched the “Rest of NZ” trend less closely, with the result that it is now somewhat more likely to vote for Labour than non-urban parts of the country. Wellington, again, has usually voted for Labour at substantially higher rates.

The Green Party is where things start to get interesting. Both Wellington and Christchurch give a substantially higher share of their party votes to the Greens than the rest of the country, and this gap has widened in every election since 1999. Auckland, by contrast, continues to vote for the Green Party at a rate that’s similar to small-town and rural New Zealand. This data doesn’t allow us to understand why – it could be due to policy preferences, or simply to the fact that the Green Party hasn’t historically had many Auckland-based MPs to campaign for the vote here.

Finally, New Zealand First. This is the only area where we can observe large divergences between how Aucklanders vote and how small-town and rural New Zealanders vote. Over the last six elections, there has been a consistent gap between the NZF party vote in the three big cities and in rural areas. This is likely to reflect NZF’s political positioning, including its opposition to immigration and advocacy for policies to support small towns rather than big cities.

The broad lesson from this data is that Auckland’s political preferences do not not seem to be diverging from small-town and rural New Zealand. Across the city as a whole, Aucklanders vote much the same as other New Zealanders. This is very different than the trend observed in the UK and US, where recent elections have brought differences in preferences and values into sharp relief. And it’s also different to the trend observed in Wellington, which is substantially more left-leaning than non-urban NZ.

A provocative hypothesis

Without getting into the rights and wrongs of different political parties – Transportblog is a nonpartisan endeavour – I would argue that this data is good news for Auckland and New Zealand. The way we vote suggests that we are less likely to suffer from the same ills as the UK and the US. And, over time, it should mean that we get better urban and transport policy from central government.

First, in spite of the demographic differences between Aucklanders and New Zealanders living outside the big cities, voting data suggests that we broadly share the same values and preferences. On the whole, Aucklanders have responded the same way to parties’ electoral appeals, suggesting that they too are bound by common interests and respond to the same economic and social trends.

This reduces the risk that we end up in a similar place as the US or UK – unable to agree on basic aspects of how our society should operate, with sharp divisions between people in different places.

Second, because Auckland sits in the political centre, political parties must pay attention to its needs if they want to get elected. As the past six elections show, Aucklanders’ votes are available to centre-right parties and centre-left parties, provided that they make a good case for themselves. And, unlike in the US where you can win the presidency while losing New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Boston, Denver, Seattle, inner Atlanta, etc by 50 percentage points, it’s not possible to lose big in Auckland and win the national election.

This is a very good thing for Auckland, as the city has some unique needs as a result of its rapid population and economic growth. It needs policy support to enable it to build more housing, especially in the existing urban area, and transport investments that are fit for purpose, including greater attention to its rapid transit network and urban cycling. These ideas are broadly popular with Aucklanders:

Local government can address some of this, but central government needs to come to the party as well as it is an important source of funding and policymaking. The politics of Auckland create strong incentives to do that. Over time, this will mean a city that gets more of its problems fixed, and more of its opportunities realised. And New Zealand as a whole will benefit from having a more productive, dynamic city that can, say, pay taxes to fund comfortable retirements in Whakatane and Timaru.

What do you think about the way Aucklanders vote?

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80 comments

  1. What this also shows is National shouldn’t panic to much about the provinces since they are competitive in Urban areas, if English can announce some solid PT projects like NW Busway Te Atatu – Westgate & possibly accelerate extension to Kumeu, third main, as well as AMETI Pak – Botany & solid SH20B PT this year, he doesn’t need to fully fund all of them this year, that will please Auckland voters while not stirring up the anti-rail cabinet members to much, as well as solid reforms on housing (Not sure when final Productivity Commission Report comes out) may keep a lot of swing voters from thinking about alternatives.

    1. Agree, it is to English’s advantage here but also his to lose with Auckland given if South Auckland fully mobilises as it did in 2005 it can easily deny a conservative government power and either install or retain Labour.

      However, bagging English is a rather dumb move given it was him as the primary Government push that got the Unitary Plan through (17-3 in the final Governing Body vote) after that disastrous Feb 24 vote last year. So then what should English do.

      Given the Government is tone deaf on housing, transport becomes the next big one. English could put through all those project mentioned above plus some Southern Motorway widening from Papakura to Drury and he pretty much secures Auckland especially South Auckland. Ironically the NW Busway, SH20B PT, AMETI all feed into National areas so put two and two together and you get…..

      1. The issue for English is perception on housing, people in “middle NZ” tend to blame investors/immigrants, or blame the RMA, the former would require policies he doesn’t want to touch, the latter he does but will take time. The other issue is a large part of his electorate are home owners so he obviously doesn’t want to do to much.

    2. Will be interesting election this year. Hopefully Labour will refrain from just bagging everything National does and actually campaign on their policies this year. Focusing on National bashing has lost them votes over the last couple of elections (we are not America).

      I agree that it would be a good opportunity for National to introduce a more balanced transport investment portfolio for the elections, but they are always to concerned with losing their core support and still have Joyce and Brownlee providing advice, that I’m not confident we will see that. Could be proven wrong though.

      1. The options I listed above are not rail, are in someways Greenfield focused, and are not billion dollar projects which is the type of projects Pro-PT National Cabinet Members can really successfully push. I think Pak-Botany Busway for example AT are around 100m short, all English would need to do is this year grant a 100m odd loan from a (insert fancy sounding fund here) to AT over the next few years and the project can move.

  2. Transport is seen as one of Auckland’s biggest problems to fix by Auckland voters and the Greens have by far the most balanced and sensible urban transport policy of any party, yet they don’t seem to poll well in Auckland… I wonder whether that’s because of some of the “other policies” that one has to swallow if one votes Green? The next election will be interesting, as “voting for National” has for many really been “voting for that nice smiley Mr Key”. When my 10 year old sees a news interview with Bill English, with the “Prime Minister” caption underneath, he always comments that TVNZ have stuffed up the caption and got the wrong name!

    1. Never vote on a single issue. Vote for what’s best for NZ, not you.

      Well, that’s the ideal, but I know for many people that colours their voting – National or the Greens may have some “9” and “10” policies but the rest are “2s” (for particular voters)

      It’s why NZ First does fairly well (considering everything); nothing stands out, but most people can at least nod their head to most of their policies.

      And why Act is now dead.

    2. I think Peter was right with the Greens not having a traditionally well known Auckland bench, as this changes their votes should increase. The Greens really need to have Genter on the media more.

    3. I don’t think the John Key effect is as big as we might have first thought. His preferred Prime Minister ratings had steadily been dropping in the last year or so, while National’s overall polling was staying reasonably similar.

      The counter argument is that there is growing evidence that the right couldn’t organise a piss-up in a brewery when it comes to campaigns (Northland and Mt Roskill by-elections, and 2016 Council elections), so we might only become aware of his value for campaigning later this year. The person best positioned to take advantage of any campaigning weaknesses is of course Mr Peters.

      1. I’d tend to agree. I’d also suggest that Mr English will make for a similar type of PM, such that the “loss of Key” effect will be minimized.

        On the other hand, if Joyce or Collins had risen to the top of National’s leadership baking tin then I think the effect on poll ratings would have been larger.

      2. I’d like to know what, if anything, gets Mr English excited. No evidence that anything much stirs his bones at all. He’s taking that laconic, laid-back southern man schtick to new levels. Is that a good thing or not? Obama spoke with passion, and it seemed genuine. Mr Rump speaks also with passion and yet it just seems to be invective and hatred. Key at least did seem to get excited by some things in life (mincing down catwalks and hacking down Andrew Little, mostly), but English? I just dunno.

  3. “Transportblog is a nonpartisan endeavour ”

    I think it’s worth unpacking this a little. While TB does not take particular *party lines*, to paraphrase: everything is politics. As such, when we unpack what TB advocates for, we can indeed see a particular political ideology emerging (even though it is problematic to say there is a single monolithic TB line). I think we can be rather certain that TB is not libertarian and we can also be sure it is not communist, for example. Personally if I were forced to be exact, I’d say that TB’s ideology is what I might call “21st century blue-greenism” that (if we borrow a Marxian lens or two) reflects the interests not of the worker class or the rentier class but rather the “white collar worker” class. My 2c; feel free to criticise. In fact I’d almost be inclined to think that old word “bourgeoisie” hits the nail rather well.

    PS with the graph above showing National’s vote share in major cities, it’d be marvellous to have the rural shares shown side by side (perhaps by changing to a column graph)
    PPS the other thing that makes NZ better is the lack of gerrymandering

    1. Sounds like something Bomber on TDB would write himself…..

      Is Transport Blog one of the white collar working class, the middle class, the blue collar class, the elites? Does it matter? Does it matter when Auckland as a whole benefits from such advocacy? What improvements could TB make in your opinion. Does areas of Auckland miss out from their coverage if so where and how would you improve them?

      Questions!

      1. He’s welcome to label and categorise, if he wants to. I didn’t particularly get the sense that the intent was to dismiss or denigrate us.

        In the past I’ve written about the need to have a more diverse conversation about cities. I’m definitely aware that there are limits to my own experience that may lead me to miss certain problems or opportunities.

        1. RNZ Insight asked from program ideas yesterday on Twitter to which I replied that we need to have a very good chat about cities. RNZ did reply they will look into it while Todd Niall will cover Auckland more in depth through the year so I think we just might get that conversation 🙂

          As for limitations – agree as I also know my own limitations as a Geographer with urbanism, cities and the geo-political environment. But hey this is why we blog and discuss right? Exchange of ideas.

    2. It’s possible to have ideas, or even ideologies, without being partisan. In my experience, political parties tend to be bound together by common values, interests or outlooks, but often people within parties have different ideas about what to do in order to realise their values. Hence there are usually opportunities to find common ground with people who vote differently from you.

      And yes, I fully agree that the absence of gerrymandering in NZ is a great thing. MMP is even better, as it means that everyone’s vote counts evenly regardless of whether they live in a deep-red or deep-blue electorate.

      1. I agree (and disagree); to be partisan means to align with a particular party, so if there was a “Nunnsian ideology”, in the absence of a Nunnsian party it’d be impossible for you to be partisan. But you’d still not be apolitical.

    3. Criticisms:
      – You talk about TB as if it were a unified entity. I think aggregation (de-humanization?) is a bad place to begin such an analysis, given that we’re only talking about ~5 people or so.
      – Transport and land use are about the only areas of policy where individual bloggers more or less seem to agree, and even then there’s a lot of disagreement — usually on technical grounds.
      – A better place to start, I’d suggest, would be to analyse normative statements made by individual bloggers, and then see if there were common ideological threads/influences.
      – I *suspect* you are correct to note that none of the bloggers are libertarian or Marxist; I honestly don’t know much about the political views of my fellow bloggers.
      – Beyond narrowing the ideological range, however, I think you’re perhaps guilty of intellectual masturbation and/or projection.

      P.s. I’d advise against general characterisations of the political and ideological views of people who you don’t know well; it comes across as presumptuous to the point of being rude.

      1. There’s a quote in a policy book I remember “Even the technical is political”

        For example, when we set technical standards for (say) the tensile strength of structural steel, it is a political process involving discussions of “what is safe” and “what isn’t.”

        That’s what I think is sometimes ignored; that what you see as purely technocratic is not. I’m not being negative or critical, I’m saying unpack what you’re saying and what underlies it. Even a statement like “of maximum benefit to Auckland” (as used above) is utilitarian, which is a political lens.

    4. The US has gerrymandering through the redistricting process but 48 states give their electoral votes at the whole state level so the gerrymander has no influence on the Presidential election. The other two states award two of their votes at the whole state level as well so redistricting has little or no impact on the result. In this election Trump got 304 votes to Hillary Clinton’s 227 so it was more complete than many Presidents have achieved. The fact she won the popular vote just indicates her campaign was really inefficient. She was making speeches in Arizona and Texas where she had no hope and didn’t visit Wisconsin where she needed to win.

        1. Interesting link. I think they call unequal weighting malapportionment. The framers apparently supported democracy but didn’t want too much of it.

          1. I think gerrymander implies an active desire to create bias. The Constitution was written by people from the east coast who probably never dreamed there would be states ranging from 586,000 to 39 million people. The problem as you say Patrick is they get two senators each regardless of size and that then gives them too many electoral votes (3 instead of 1). But it is even worse for Washington DC- no senators and 3 electoral votes as they are not allowed more than the smallest state. But here is the rub- even if they sorted that out Trump would still probably have got in as they use first past the post in each state. But nobody can fix the US as the little states won’t let them.

          2. No but there was an active desire to create bias, with the best of possible intentions of course,: it was fear of the city, the idea that the ‘true’ american, or person of soul, is to found in the countryside. It was a deliberate move to maintain a permanent dictatorship of relatively unpeopled places over those fallen places; cities. Fear of the mass, belief in Arcadia, denial of the idea of Utopia, nature over culture…. They expressed it the other way round of course; it was to prevent a dictatorship of the urban majority over the honest toiling farmers, backbone of the country etc & etc, at least in the upper house, one of the checks and balances. The founding fathers never imagined the other obscene Gerrymander that the Republicans have now permanently fixed in the lower house too. So it is now not a check or balance, but an echo chamber for fraud and graft… as we shall now see writ large with the narcissist enabler at the very top of the pile too… oh happy days.

          3. This happens in NZ as well with the Canterbury Regional Council (except they are all commissioners at the moment but that’s another story). When fully elected there are equal numbers of rural and town councilors as there are urban councilors even though 3/4 of the regions population lives in Christchurch. Quite possibly the same with other councils as well.

            It also happens in Australia incidentally where there are equal numbers of Senators from each state.

    5. I get the impression that TB promotes a multi modal transport policy. Walk to the shops, kids cycle to school, get a train to work, take the car to Grandma’s. None of which screams bourgeois to me, or National or Labour either.

      1. That’s basically the concept. If anything, I’d expect that providing good PT, walking and cycling throughout the city will be quite a progressive policy, in terms of its impacts on social equity, as people without a lot of money are most likely to value those added choices.

        1. Absolutely, *if* the PT is designed for the working class. It’s easy to design PT that favours the already favoured

          I’d say truly progressive PT would involve massive increases in western and southern line frequency, building the NW busway, and would probably avoid spending $ on isthmus LRT (which already serves the relatively-rich). This is based simply on looking at local board demographics.

          The northern busway is brilliant BUT it favours the rich(er).

          1. Any further investment should only go to areas that will be intensified. Where locals have resisted that, they can suck a kumara.

    6. HSB1 Alumnus has nailed it.

      as for “…Is Transport Blog one of the white collar working class, the middle class, the blue collar class, the elites? Does it matter..?”

      Oh boy, what cotton wool petty bourgeoisie box did you gently fall out of?

  4. Peter I think Local Government should have been brought into the mix here as well as Auckland goes full Gemini on us with its tendencies.

    Central Government wise we vote National apart from South Auckland (referring to Party vote).
    Local we install Centre Left Councils apart from the deep South which sends in conservatives. Nowhere is this more pronounced than the North Shore which is Blue in central politics but Red and Green at local level.

    So why the Gemini split?

    1. Ben i think there are three issues at play in this:

      1. People largely believe that the Mayor/Council can deliver Transit and Housing, they see these as local issues that should sit at that level of gov., so they vote at this level on those issues, but on other broader issues at Central Gov level. This isn’t really the case, central governments of all hues have jealously controlled the budgets for these areas. It is true that Mayor/Council can do a great deal to advocate for better outcomes, as we have seen with the CRL, but it is very very hard.

      2. They may well be aspect of checks and balances at play too; with one hue in at one level then perhaps voters are more happy to the other lot in at the other level…? (we have quite often had opposing colours in at each level: Clarke/Banks, Key/Brown etc)

      3. Talent. The right has served up some very poor mayoral and councillor candidates this century in AKL. In turn I think there are two reasons for this: With a strong National gov, Nat Councillors of even the slightest achievement have rushed to step up to central gov level, stripping the local level of whatever talent they possess. But also because the old C&R policy of do nothing/spend nothing, just doesn’t work anymore outside of some of the gated communities of the most wealthy. The majority of even that small group who vote actually want Council to do things, ie exist, rate, and invest. C&R’s central philosophy has become a consistently a loosing ticket in AKL now, even in places such as the North Shore, as you observe. Anyway it is a contradiction like the Tea Party, or UKIP in Europe; vote for us because we don’t believe in this institution!

      1. Yes, I think that’s right, Patrick.

        However, it is worth noting that although the big-city mayors and many of the councillors are Labour- or Green-aligned, the governing majorities on councils tend to be bipartisan.

        Still haven’t totally got my head around the implications of this. I’ve speculated in the past that a weak party system at local government level may make it harder for voters to figure out what they’re voting for, thus contributing to lowering voter turnout.

      2. So the question then is the following:

        Given we have a lack of a powerful Planning Ministry like New South Wales and Victorian State Governments do should Auckland be granted de-facto City State powers and have control of its own internal affairs similar to the State-Federal divide in Australia?

        1. That’s a good question. It would mean a significant constitutional change in NZ as NZ has had a very strong unitary system of government (all powers and rights reserved for central government, unless they decide to get generous) rather than a federal system (powers and rights distributed between levels of government.

        2. Well I have a different picture here. On the surface it’s clear we lack a third federal level of gov. I would argue two things about this: 1. yay! I don’t think we need another layer gov. and 2. By comparison with Australia in practice what we really lack is the top nation state level. In other words our whole country is more like an Australian state than a whole nation. Wellington runs police, education, and big transport infra, like NSW or Vic, sure we have a little navy and army [more like customs and disaster relief outfits really], and seat at the UN [which is great], but otherwise NZ is like a medium sized Aussie State. 4.6m people, one primary city [which weirdly isn’t the capital]… The pressing question at the moment I think is about the balance between central and local institutions, as its pretty clear that NZ is very very centralised in terms of tax and budgets, kinda like a democratic commie state…

          1. Democratic Commie State aka Joycery.

            4.6m? Err not so much a medium State but all of Greater Sydney more like it (oooo City State) 😉

            Because of the balance issue is the reason why I asked should Auckland be afforded NSW State like powers – to balance out Wellington.

    2. Isn’t the Gemini split just a rational outcome. Large numbers vote Labour in the local elections because they want lots of public services but they don’t get stuck with a rates bill. So it makes sense to vote using the child-like “I want a pony!” model. On the other hand few Aucklanders want to be poor so at the national elections they avoid the Greens and to some extend Labour as well.

      1. mfwic were you living under a bridge during the recent Council election when rate increases were the big issue?

      2. Your theory doesn’t fit the data. For one thing, as others note, winning politicians in Auckland have tended to promise moderation in rates increases. For another, your theory doesn’t explain why Auckland and Wellington have diverged – surely an explanation that rested upon ‘beggar thy neighbour’ policies at the local level and ‘fiscal prudence’ at the national level would need to account for both outcomes.

        Have you considered revising your dim view of human nature?

    3. I think the difference between the centre-left doing better in local elections but the centre-right doing better in national elections probably illustrates that people would like the government to do more on public transport, but that they need reassurance Labour/Greens would be financially responsible.

  5. In a lot of ways Auckland is one of the more conservative cities I have lived in. There are a lot of families, a lot of religion (compared to the rest of the country), a lot of road users, a lot of anti change mob, and not so many pro-progress people around. There doesn’t seem to be a big youth presence (at least politically).

    1. I think you’re probably correct in a historical sense, if you consider the fact that C&R ruled the local government roost for several decades.

      Yet one gets the feeling that the views of the median Aucklander are perhaps shifting to the centre over time? Such that local politics at least is a fairly even contest. You could even make a case that Auckland’s centre-left has been winning it’s fair share of battles in the last decade or so.

      I think also that the population is diversifying, partly due to NZ’s decent run of economic performance since ~1995, which has tended to reduce the exodus of young brain and brawn that characterised the couple of decades prior.

    2. Auckland is getting more conservative. Most new immigrants stay in Auckland and very few of them have much sympathy for either the Greens or Labour. I suspect that is the reason National has let so many people in when we have a shortage of houses.

    3. New Zealand on the whole is a pretty conservative country, but in a ‘small-c’ kinda way. The ‘yeah-nah, no worries mate’ attitude towards change. Which is to say that we’ll change, and often change quite fast once things get going, but we don’t want to rush into it.

      1. Yes but NZ is not at all conservative in say a US context. Basically the National Party aligns with the Democrats, and we have no Republican Party equivalent, except perhaps for various failed christian party attempts, so I rest my case. Conversely, the US has no Labour Party equivalent, nor Green Party of similar scale. Their Libertarian Party is bigger than ours, although our ACT Party is such a jumbled mess of some Libertarian policies plus a mix of crony capitalist/status quo support ones that it barely qualifies for that definition. And anyway is merely a creature of the National Party as it only exists at their fiat.

        This is even more the case now as the US seems to be lurching into isolationist fascism; no party here, with the possible exception of NZF, is anti international trade. We are a trading nation and isolationist and autarkic tendencies are now very very rare since the days when we fooled ourselves that we were really the British Empire…

  6. Interesting post.
    Auckland’s leanings (or lack of) can probably be best explained in that the wealthy are very much mostly pro-national (since National doesn’t seem to want to do anything to disrupt the property investment bubble. National also picks up the vast majority of votes from wealthy migrants (particularly Asian migrants) – which explains why they are so pro-immigration (especially from Asia).
    Labour on the other hand picks up mostly the working class and immigrants from non-Asian countries (Pacific Island, UK etc but also from poorer Asian countries like Philippines).
    NZ First as can be seen doesn’t do so well in Auckland (no surprises when they want to restrict immigration and since Auckland has the most immigrants in NZ by an overwhelming margin this would affect their vote count).
    Yes these are generalisations and there will be variances.

  7. I don’t think anyone votes nationally on transport. I’d say most people vote based on “Am I angry enough at the government to be bothered getting to the polls” 28% of people didn’t vote, which is basically 694,000 people saying the current government is ok and another 1.1m (47%) voted for National. So 75% basically were not unhappy with the current government.

    NZ is a tiny country with a tiny population where everyone knows everyone via someone else. Because of MMP we arent as clearly divided as Rep/Dem like the US.
    We are still a fairly socialist “fair go” society. Both our major parties are far left than the US Democrats. We are more similar than we are different. We just tend to vote what our families do.
    I live in a Labour stronghold and people just vote Labour because thats what they have always done, not because it may/may not be in their best interests. I see similar trends in my friends for the most part.

    I support policies from almost every party, but I also dislike policies from them as well. If I were voting for my best interests I’d vote ACT, but I’ve never voted for them because I’m not a rich old white guy. I also don’t vote on one issue. If I were voting on transport only, I’d vote greens hands down, but I abhor their social policies. I just tend to vote for the party that may do the least damage. When in doubt, I just vote Winston. Always good for a laugh.

    1. I think no one votes on transport because no party actively campaigns on transport. Maybe because it is too polarising?
      I think if Labour for example put out billboards around Auckland saying they would implement decent public transport in Auckland they would encourage quite a few people to vote for them – but people who will never use PT might decide not to vote for them.

  8. One thing that your post hasn’t explored is: voting for ACT and United Future. I’d expect United Future voting to be by now almost 100% concentrated in Ohariu Valley, home to Peter Dunne, and similarly, voting for ACT to be primarily restricted to Epsom for David Seymour. Would that skew your patterns for Auckland and Wellington? Or are they both actually really just totally irrelevant to politics??

  9. Three things:

    1. In Politics historically in NZ at a national level parties have typically been voted ‘out’ rather than ‘in’.
    2. Outside Auckland most people don’t care much for us Aucklanders and consider our issues not theirs – ask around – some even have actual contempt for the perceived moneys being thrown at Auckland.
    3. Voting for Labour in South Auckland has also been pushed via the churches

  10. Interesting post. I was wondering whether the voting preferences were influenced by considering “Auckland” as a single city. In other words, is it possible that voting preferences differ across the different areas of Auckland, specifically when comparing the more urbanised electorates with the less urbanised ones, such as Franklin and Rodney?

    1. I took a look at it – that’s a good question. The definition of Auckland I used included the Hunua and Rodney electorates as well as the Tamaki Makaurau (Maori) electorate, while the other cities didn’t include their rural periphery or Maori electorates. The reason for this is that the rural and Maori electorates around Auckland are much smaller in size than the ones around the other cities. For instance, the Te Tai Tonga Maori electorate includes Wellington *as well as* the entire South Island.

      Taking these electorates out didn’t change the overall result. For instance, in 2014, using the broader definition of Auckland including the rural periphery and Maori seats, I found that Auckland gave 48.2% of its party votes to National, compared with 47.5% in the “Rest of NZ” category. Excluding those three electorates brought the Auckland total down to 47.8% – ie basically the same story.

  11. The support difference of PT and Road make sense because:

    Rural area and smaller city do not need PT yet, because the size of the town does not have the population density to support PT, and a car based development is still more efficient.

    In larger city like Auckland, car based transport are no longer a sustainable way to develop.

    Therefore the central government need to cater its PT/Car funding policy differently depending on the city.

  12. A quick glance at last election’s results show Labour and the Greens doing much better than their national average in Dunedin and much worse in Tauranga. Hamilton’s general electorates returned a result very close to the national average.

    Calling averages for the country outside Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch “small-town and rural” hides the fact some cities vote in very different ways. That Auckland in aggregate votes in ways fairly close to the national average is interesting. But the world outside the three named centres is not homogeneous.

    1. Big numbers of uni students in Dunedin, whereas Tauranga is basically one big retirement village.

      (Slight exaggeration, but you know what I mean right?)

  13. I’m surprised you have to ask the question, so in turn I’ll ask a question back – have you ever lived outside Auckland, within New Zealand?

    It’s blatently obvious that Aucklanders think (and behave) differently. I’ve lived in many locations around the North Island, so have experienced the difference first hand.

    The difference in Auckland is not a positive one though. There is no cohesive vision in Auckland, and people always seem to be in a hurry. Auckland’s suburbs are bland, as are its town centres. Pedestrians in the city walk with a fast pace, and on the roads people drive at 60km/h. But mostly, and this really stands out to anyone who has lived in small town NZ – Aucklanders are not in control of their city. The city is driven by business, not people. And therefore it has become all about consumerism and growth. And because business wants to grow, the city itself is treated as a product that is expected to generate profit.

    And so the immigration floodgates are locked in the open position, because more people means more consumerism and growth of profits. Prices are encouraged to go upward, in line with what the international market will bear. The city is locked into endless economic challenge, as business growth and profits demand public expenditure on more infrastructure provision in a perpetual cycle.

    You don’t see this happening elsewhere. Our towns and smaller cities are for people primarily, with the local populace firmly in charge of the direction their town or city is to take. Napier is a good example – the majority don’t want the sort of problems Auckland has, so they ban concepts like malls, to protect locally owned small businesses. They ban high-rise apartments so as to not cause transport issues. On weekends most businesses close, and people spend time with family. The streets stay pretty quiet.

    The reason Auckland is being taken over by corporate control, is because of the diversity of the city’s populace. New Zealanders who valued the quieter kiwi lifestyle, and recognised that cities are supposed to be for people, not money, have become a minority. Put another way – those who don’t give a crap have become the majority.

    Auckland’s future is not a good one. It is now the world’s 22nd most expensive place to live – out of hundreds of thousands of towns and cities world wide – and New Zealanders are now leaving Auckland faster than they are arriving, because frankly, they just don’t like it. It’s appeal is to foreigners, not kiwis.

    1. I’ll ask this again, although you’ll no doubt respond again with deafening silence: Why do you live in Auckland?

      I’m genuinely interested as to why someone who seems to dislike Auckland culture, lifestyle and conditions, and someone who reports a bleak outlook for Aucklands future… and someone who waxes nostalgic for the lifestyle in other New Zealand cities, chose to move to and keep living in Auckland?

      What is the special factor that makes you ignore everything you hate about the AKL and everything you love about elsewhere, and keep living here anyway?

    2. Geoff, this comment is largely irrelevant to the post at hand, as it mostly consists of your usual moaning about immigrants being bad and agglomeration economies being a pro-business conspiracy. As such, it violates user guidelines 6 (opinions are not facts) and 8i (no obsessive arguing in a thread or threads).

      Furthermore, statements like “The reason Auckland is being taken over by corporate control, is because of the diversity of the city’s populace… those who don’t give a crap have become the majority” are derogatory to many New Zealanders and as a result violate user guideline 1 (“Treat other members of the community with civility and respect”).

      You have been warned about this sort of behaviour in the past. Any further comments along this line will result in your comments being placed in moderation.

      FYI, my family’s been here since the 1840s, I’ve lived in several NZ cities, and I have relatives and friends up and down the country. And you’ve never explained why you choose to live in Auckland if you hate it so much.

    3. “They ban high-rise apartments so as to not cause transport issues.” – That comment shows such a lack of understanding of how transport works that it boggles the mind. Even after all these years of trolling this blog and being presented with lots of facts and information to challenge your preconceived ideas, you haven’t changed your ideas at all.

      I suppose that could be called consistency but I think that is too kind. It is just close minded.

  14. You are being a bit harsh on Geoff. While I don’t agree on everything he has said, most of his points are correct. I lived in Auckland, and then went and lived down country, where as a journalist I covered both national and local body politics, and then shifted back to Auckland, and on paragraphs 3, 5 and 7 he is spot on. As for paragraphs 4 and 6, they are his personal opinions but everyone else has expressed their personal opinions here, so why shouldn’t he. The next election will be interesting. At least with MMP we don’t have the gerrymandering of votes as they do in the US where a farmer’s vote in Iowa is worth about three city dwellers’ votes. But you are right, he has wandered a bit off topic, but so have some of the others.

    1. I’d be more patient if he didn’t have a record of making similar comments, often with needless digs at other Aucklanders, and failing to back up his reckons with facts. He’s welcome to personal opinions, but if he can’t express them without denigrating others then he’s not welcome to comment here.

      On the whole issue of “corporate control” overriding other priorities, I would note that, while Auckland’s environmental quality has generally improved over the last 20 years, or at least gotten no worse, dairy farmers throughout the country have turned their rivers and streams toxic in search of greater profit. People in rural areas and small towns generally vote for this to continue. So it’s not clear, at all, that Aucklanders are the ones who “don’t give a crap”.

  15. Yeah, to be fair though I think Geoff’s post would have read a lot better if he’d only deleted the last two paragraphs, but he makes some interesting observations about the way Auckland is changing as it grows.

    For me he’s spot on about corporate control over Auckland. Just look at this week’s monolithic Ryman plan in Devonport, where corporate profits just steamrolled local opposition, safe in the knowledge that the cost of the legal system locks out local citizens from being able to fight back, and safe from the lack of a local council that could represent local views in the deciding on what happens to public green spaces. That’s what is missing in Auckland politics – the ability of residents to have a say in protecting their public spaces, and also a council that is geographically remote, therefore over-representing the old Auckland Council and under-representing the rest of Auckland.

      1. Yes, which is what we should be seeing gradually develop rather than these massive blocks. But there’s also a wider issue to me in that there seems to be no effective pathway for communities to have a say on such impactful developments, nor is there sufficient protection for public spaces. Are our green spaces (some Council-owned) really safe from private developers; is the Council going to step up or are public spaces now fair game for private interests?

    1. There’s many things I don’t understand about these retirement villages.

      First, that block appears to be zoned mixed suburban. It’s interesting how those retirement villages are allowed over there anyway. If the same building would be built for the general public rather than the elderly only, it would be illegal. And probably the prospective tenants of that retirement village would fight that tooth and nail. I find that quite weird.

      Second, what’s with the inward facing? There is one at Smales Farm, and from the street it’s essentially walled off. Not just the apartments, but also the recreational space in between. Is it that undesirable to have both the people living in the retirement village and the rest of the people in the area using the same public spaces, going to the same shops, etc?

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