Christchurch Central is a New Zealand parliamentary electorate in the South Island city of Christchurch. The electorate was established for the 1946 election and, until 2011 had always been won by the Labour Party. Since 2008, the incumbent was Brendon Burns but the election night results for the 2011 election resulted in a tie; the special vote results combined with a judicial recount revealed a 47-vote majority for Nicky Wagner, the National list MP based in the electorate. Wagner significantly increased her winning margin in the 2014 election after having declared the electorate "unwinnable" for National earlier in the year following a boundary review. At the 2017 election Wagner lost the seat to Labour's Duncan Webb, who retained it at the 2020 election.
The 1941 New Zealand census had been postponed due to World War II, so the 1946 electoral redistribution had to take ten years of population growth and movements into account. The North Island gained a further two electorates from the South Island due to faster population growth. The abolition of the country quota through the Electoral Amendment Act, 1945 reduced the number and increased the size of rural electorates. None of the existing electorates remained unchanged, 27 electorates were abolished, eight former electorates were re-established, and 19 electorates were created for the first time, including Christchurch Central.
As the name suggests, the electorate covers the Christchurch Central City, plus several inner suburbs to the north and east of the central city. Since the 2008 election, the following suburbs, in alphabetical order, are at least partially located in the electorate: Avonside, Central City, Edgeware, Linwood, Mairehau, Merivale, North Linwood, Northcote, Papanui, Phillipstown, Redwood, Richmond, Shirley, St Albans, Sydenham, and Waltham.In the 2013/14 redistribution, the electorate lost Mairehau and Shirley to Christchurch East and gained more of Sydenham and Beckenham from Port Hills and more of Redwood from Waimakariri.
The Christchurch Central electorate was created in 1946.Labour held the seat for the next 65 years, though a high turnout for the Alliance saw Tim Barnett's 1996 majority come in at under a thousand. The incumbent, Brendon Burns, had a majority in the 2008 election of also just under one thousand.
The first representative was Robert Macfarlane, who had earlier represented the Christchurch South electorate. He held Christchurch Central until the 1969 election, when he retired. He was succeeded by Bruce Barclay, who died in office in 1979. This caused the 1979 by-election held on 18 August, which was won by Geoffrey Palmer. Palmer eventually went on to become Prime Minister.
Palmer retired at the 1990 election and was succeeded by Lianne Dalziel. At the 1996 election, i.e. with the advent of MMP, Dalziel did not contest an electorate but stood as a list candidate only. Tim Barnett succeeded her and held the electorate until the 2008 election, when he retired. Brendon Burns succeeded Barnett.
The election night results for the 2011 election resulted in a tie; Burns and Nicky Wagner of the National Party received 10,493 votes each. The outcome of the election thus depended on the special votes.This was the first time a tie result had been achieved since 1928. When the final vote count was announced on 10 December, Wagner was declared the winner with a majority of 45 over Burns, making the result the second-smallest majority after Waitakere. Due to the closeness of the results a judicial recount was held where Wagner's majority increased by 2 votes to 47.
When draft electoral boundary changes were released, Wagner declared the electorate "unwinnable" for National. Although she was expected to not contest the 2014 general election, she announced at the end of January 2014 that she would try to defend her seat.Labour chose Tony Milne as their candidate for Christchurch Central. Wagner had a 2,420 majority over Milne. The Labour Party chose Duncan Webb as its candidate for the 2017 general election. He is a prominent lawyer and earthquake claims advocate. Webb narrowly won the seat in 2017, and massively increased his majority at the 2020 election amid that year's Labour landslide.
Christchurch Central has been represented by eight MPs. Since its creation in 1946 until the 2011 general election it had been a safe seat for the Labour Party. It was then held by the National Party until the 2017 general election when it swung back to Labour.
Key Labour Alliance NZ First National
|1946 election||Robert Macfarlane|
|1969 election||Bruce Barclay|
|1979 by-election||Geoffrey Palmer|
|1990 election||Lianne Dalziel|
|1996 election||Tim Barnett|
|2008 election||Brendon Burns|
|2011 election||Nicky Wagner|
|2017 election||Duncan Webb|
Members of Parliament elected from party lists in elections where that person also unsuccessfully contested the Christchurch Central electorate.
|1996 election||Ron Mark|
|2005 election||Nicky Wagner|
|2020 general election: Christchurch Central|
Blue background denotes the winner of the electorate vote.
|Legalise Cannabis||Michael Britnell||704||1.74||+0.88||257||0.63||+0.33|
|NZ First||Mark Arneil||544||1.35||-1.76||862||2.12||−3.09|
|New Conservative||Benjamin Price||430||1.07||—||478||1.17||+0.91|
|Advance NZ||Carole Church||355||0.88||—||325||0.80||—|
|Total Valid votes||40,369||40,735|
|2017 general election: Christchurch Central|
Blue background denotes the winner of the electorate vote.
|National||N Nicky Wagner||13,760||39.27||−6.95||13,956||38.94||−5.72|
|NZ First||Phil Robinson||1,091||3.11||−0.64||1,869||5.21||−1.98|
|Legalise Cannabis||Janine Shufflebotham||304||0.86||—||108||0.30||−0.18|
|United Future||Ian Gaskin||80||0.22||—||45||0.12||−0.05|
|Total Valid votes||35,033||35,838|
|Labour gain from National||Majority||2,871||8.20||+15.49|
|2014 general election: Christchurch Central|
Blue background denotes the winner of the electorate vote.
|NZ First||George Abraham||1,245||3.75||+3.75||2,462||7.19||+2.23|
|Total Valid votes||33,203||34,264|
|2011 general election: Christchurch Central|
|Labour||N Brendon Burns||12,017||44.36||+0.52||8,240||29.40||-9.96|
|Total Valid votes||27,089||28,024|
|National gain from Labour||Majority||47||0.17||+3.08|
Electorate (as at 26 November 2011): 39,419
|2008 general election: Christchurch Central|
|Legalise Cannabis||Michael Britnell||487||1.52||–||187||0.57||+0.20|
|Workers Party||Byron Clark||164||0.51||+0.24||33||0.10|
|Bill and Ben||187||0.57||–|
|Total Valid votes||32,116||33,023|
|2005 general election: Christchurch Central|
|NZ First||Kevin Gardener||1,022||3.04||1,391||4.04|
|United Future||John van Buren||761||2.26||1,048||3.04|
|Anti-Capitalist Alliance||Byron Clark||90||0.27|
|Communist League||Annalucia Vermunt||53||0.16|
|Total Valid votes||33,639||34,469|
|2002 general election: Christchurch Central|
|United Future||Stephen Russell||1,160||3.8||2,118||6.8|
|Christian Heritage||Vic Pollard||874||2.9||430||1.4|
|Legalise Cannabis||Jeanette Saxby||469||1.5||327||1.0|
|Communist League||Appu Baskaran||99||0.3|
|Total Valid votes||30,578||31,333|
|1999 general election: Christchurch Central|
|Christian Heritage||John Bryant||689||2.11||695|
|NZ First||John Ballantyne||641||1.96||880|
|Future NZ||Daryl Gregory||481||1.47||423|
|McGillicuddy Serious||Cecil G. Murgatroyd||232||0.71||56|
|Communist League||Ruth Gray||51||0.16|
|National Democrats||Anton Foljambe||44||0.13|
|Dominion Workers||Clifford Mundy||9||0.03|
|People's Choice Party||2|
|Total Valid votes||32,918|
|1996 general election: Christchurch Central|
|NZ First||Ron Mark||3,067||10.22||2,434||8.01|
|Progressive Greens||Gillian Baillie||386||1.29||106||0.35|
|United NZ||Jacinta Grice||224||0.75||226||0.74|
|Natural Law||Raymond Cain||112||0.37||66||0.22|
|Independent||David Christopher Ball||102||0.34|
|Communist League||Patrick Brown||69||0.23|
|Superannuitants & Youth||16||0.05|
|Ethnic Minority Party||10||0.03|
|Advance New Zealand||3||0.01|
|Asia Pacific United||1||0.00|
|Total Valid votes||30,015||30,399|
|Christian Heritage||Tony Le Cren||413||2.32||+0.06|
|McGillicuddy Serious||Kieran Kelly||240||1.35|
|Natural Law||Glenda Martin||126||0.71|
|Communist League||Carmen Bain||52||0.29|
|Christian Heritage||Tony Le Cren||396||2.26|
|McGillicuddy Serious||Shane Dion Murphy||101||0.57|
|Social Credit||Neville Minchington||94||0.53|
|Communist League||Brigid Rotheram||27||0.15|
|Breakfast Party||James Daniels||235||1.29|
|Socialist Action||Felicity Brereton||196||1.08|
|Wizard Party||David Hanlon||119||0.65|
|NZ Party||Lynn Yeoman||70||0.38|
|NZ Party||Murray Ludemann||2,072||9.80|
|Social Credit||Joe Pounsford||662||3.13|
|Social Credit||Peter Admore||2,426||14.21|
|Communist League||W E C Iversen||78||0.45|
|Social Credit||Terry Heffernan||1,759||18.37||+9.02|
|Economic Euthenics||Tubby Hansen||10||0.10|
|Social Credit||R M Gyde||1,564||9.35|
|Socialist Action||M W Gourley||30||0.17|
|National||T G B Armitage||5,657||34.71|
|Social Credit||A C Easterbrook||555||3.40|
|Imperial British Conservative||C P Whealleans||37||0.22|
|Social Credit||Ray Thomas||700||4.27|
|Socialist Unity||Arnold James Cox||68||0.41|
|New Democratic||Cairn George Jensen||66||0.40|
|Social Credit||Stan Fitchett||964||6.35|
|Social Credit||Lola Thompson||1,455||10.60||+3.11|
|National||David John Patchett||5,637||38.99|
|Social Credit||Lola Thompson||1,084||7.49|
|Social Credit||W Green||851||6.74|
|Social Credit||W J Campbell||811||5.62|
|National||Oliver G. Moody||3,950||29.00|
|Social Credit||Albert E. Willyams||2,185||16.04|
|National||Alan J. Wills||3,880||31.08|
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