Nau mai, haere mai.

It’s a quirk of fate that the all-important Rugby World Cup quarterfinal between the All Blacks and Ireland will kick off at 8.00am on the morning after the general election. It’s hard to say which result will matter most to more people, but at least a rugby game only lasts 80 minutes.

An election campaign, on the other hand, can seem to go on a very long time – perhaps especially so for an electorate that’s tired already from a pandemic and its after-effects, extreme weather events and the daily cost-of-living grind.

But to deploy the rugby analogy once again, it’s also been a campaign of two halves. As Richard Shaw writes today, what looked for a while like a relatively predictable contest has become in the final weeks and days a panicky affair about uncertain outcomes, potential “chaos”, and the spectre of a second election.

Behind the politicking and jostling for power, Shaw points out, there are longer-term trends at work: declining voter turnout and a steady drift away from the two major parties. On current polling, roughly one in three voters will choose a party other than Labour or National.

The extraordinary single-party majority won by Jacinda Ardern’s Labour in 2020, driven by COVID and her own brand of charisma, was surely an exception. Like it or not, we are back to close elections and unpredictable outcomes.

“Yet,” writes Shaw, “this is what MMP was intended to do: to blunt the ability of a single political party (generally elected with a minority of the vote) to impose its policy agenda, and to reflect – in the composition of both parliament and the government – our increasingly fluid voting behaviour and changing demography.”

Mā te wā – and don't forget to vote!

Finlay Macdonald

New Zealand Editor

NZ Election 2023: from one-way polls to threats of coalition ‘chaos’, it’s been a campaign of two halves

Richard Shaw, Massey University

The final days of the campaign have seen both major parties warn of instability if the other wins. But behind the jockeying for power, other forces are shaping the future of New Zealand politics.

Romantic heroes or ‘one of us’ – how we judge political leaders is rarely objective or rational

Suze Wilson, Massey University

Personal bias, upbringing and even popular dramas can influence the way we evaluate political leadership. As election day nears, how might we make more balanced judgments?

New Zealand’s carbon emissions are on the way down – thanks in part to policies now under threat

Robert McLachlan, Massey University; Ian Mason, University of Canterbury

Policies and funds to decarbonise high-emitting industries and electrify transport are already delivering emissions cuts. But they are at risk of being disestablished or weakened.

Campaign trail threats and abuse reinforce the need to protect NZ’s women politicians – before they quit for good

Cassandra Mudgway, University of Canterbury

Ugly incidents in the run-up to the election mirror the rise of online violence against women in politics. The next government needs a plan to tackle the problem before it’s too late.

Record immigration will put pressure on NZ’s population, infrastructure and productivity – where’s the election debate?

Paul Spoonley, Massey University

With immigration soaring, warnings about its impact on population distribution, housing and business innovation have gone largely undiscussed during the election campaign.

NZ’s political leaders are ignoring the mounting threats from AI – and that’s putting everyone at risk

Andrew Lensen, Te Herenga Waka — Victoria University of Wellington

AI technologies have been left largely unregulated in New Zealand – and barely discussed during the election campaign. The country needs a clear plan for the brave new digital world.

From our foreign editions

The Israel-Hamas war: No matter who loses, Iran wins

Aaron Pilkington, University of Denver

The Palestinian fighters who launched deadly attacks into Israel on Oct. 7 are not Iranian puppets – but they are doing the work Iran wants done.

Farmers are bearing the brunt of big food companies’ decarbonisation efforts – here’s why

Albert Boaitey, Newcastle University

Big name food brands are pursuing decarbonisation – but they are squeezing farmers in the process.

Jon Fosse wins the 2023 Nobel Prize in Literature for giving ‘voice to the unsayable’

Alexander Howard, University of Sydney

For Jon Fosse, the fourth Norwegian to win the 2023 Nobel Prize in Literature, writing has been a way of surviving.

A short history of insomnia and how we became obsessed with sleep

Philippa Martyr, The University of Western Australia

Insomnia is torture, literally, and getting enough sleep a modern obsession. Here’s why.

‘I can’t argue away the shame’: frontier violence and family history converge in David Marr’s harrowing and important new book

Julianne Schultz, Griffith University

Killing for Country does brilliantly for one group of families what a robust, locally grounded truth-telling process might do for the whole nation.

I’m a microbiologist and here’s what (and where) I never eat

Primrose Freestone, University of Leicester

You’ll never look at bagged lettuce the same way again.

The Tony Blair Rock Opera features bagpipes, Lady Macbeth and a wrestling match with Gordon Brown

Tim Bale, Queen Mary University of London

Written by comedian Harry Hill, it’s a hectic hour-and-a-half of high-energy songs and skits.

Hamas has achieved what it wanted by attacking Israel: terror, escalation, and disruption to the international order

Michele Groppi, King's College London

The incursion into Israel was textbook terrorism and the response appears to be exactly as Hamas and its backers will have hoped.