In the heart of Masterton - the Wairarapa Bush rugby clubrooms - Labour candidate Kieran McAnulty has secured the win for the Wairarapa electorate.
McAnulty said it’s a dream come true.
“This means so much to me,” he said.
With freshly caught venison on the menu and a yarn about McAnulty’s red ute on live television, the rural Labour support crowd was in good spirits.
“Wairarapa has not been won by Labour for a long time,” McAnulty said.
The seat was formerly held by retiring National MP Alastair Scott since 2014.
And in 1999, Wairarapa elected the world’s first transgender MP, Labour’s Georgina Beyer who held the seat for two terms.
Kieran’s mother, Marie McAnulty, was crying during her son’s victory speech.
“I’m so proud of him. He’s worked so hard for this,” she said.
“I grew up with stories of my great-grandfather being the only Labour voter in Eketāhuna,” Kieran McAnulty said.
His mother said his great-grandfather would be so proud.
The McAnulty family are well known in the Wairarapa, with 170 years of history in the region even going back to the first settlers.
As for Wairarapa’s National candidate Mike Butterick, McAnulty only had positive words to say after he received a phone call conceding the seat.
“Although we disagree on the fundamentals, Mike Butterick is a very decent man,” McAnulty said.
McAnulty said he invited Butterick to the Wairarapa Bush rugby clubrooms to have a beer together.
Mike Butterick showed up just before 11pm to the crowd cheering his arrival, and then had a Tui beer with Kieran McAnulty.
“Thanks for a clean campaign,” Butterick said.