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Year in review: NZ First falls, ACT soars and the Māori Party returns in colourful year for minor parties

David Seymour, a lone ACT MP no more, the Greens win an electorate seat, the Māori Party is back and NZ First is out; 2020 was certainly a big year for the minor parties of Parliament.

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The Green Party were also in the thick of all the action. Source: 1 NEWS

For New Zealand First, 2020 began the same way it ended – badly – with then National Party leader Simon Bridges ruling out any possibility of partnering with Winston Peters.

The following month, all the parties, along with New Zealand in general, were hit hard by the Covid-19 lockdown.

During that time though, National struggled to hit the right tone which gave Seymour and ACT a chance to thrive and they did just that.

Seymour was in the public domain frequently, offering “constructive criticism where necessary and helpful suggestions where possible”.

Even more wind hit ACT’s sails with Seymour’s End of Life Choice Bill, a euthanasia law change, supported at parliament and in the public referendum.

Meanwhile, after three years of the three-way Government, NZ First still hadn't learned to play nice with Peters stating his party had “opposed woke pixie dust” to hold Labour and the Greens to account.

That, however, eventually saw Greens co-leader James Shaw retaliate, stating NZ First were “a force of chaos” instead of one of moderation.

Although, those fighting words soon turned to an almighty sigh as his green school debacle surfaced near election time. He issued a swift apology to try and recover.

“The decision that I made to support this project was an error of judgement,” Shaw said at the time. 

Campaign time and the Māori Party cut all ties with National, calling out its then-leader Todd Muller as a racist. John Tamihere was also back hunting votes but in the end his son-in-law Rawiri Whaititi returned the party to Parliament, bringing in co-leader Debbie Ngarewa-Packer with him.

Elsewhere, the polls had ACT flying high and NZ First down and out and despite Peters labelling the projections “crap”, in the end Seymour's party went from one MP to 10 and NZ First went from nine to zero.

The Greens secured just as many seats as ACTt with Chloe Swarbrick winning the hotly-contested Auckland Central.

“I just want everyone to know that they told us that this could not be done,” Swarbrick said in her victory speech.

The end result was Peters, the former Kingmaker, was stripped of his crown with his party failing to make it back.

“As for the next challenge, we'll all have to wait and see,” Peters said.