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Night To Savour For National Supporters

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
John Key
John Key

By Grant Fleming of NZPA

Auckland, Nov 9 NZPA - For the 1200 National supporters gathered at the party's election headquarters it was a night to savour.

There were villains, a mythical beast, a hero and in the end a fairytale ending.

But with the ghosts of Labour's late 2005 election-night comeback still clearly fresh in National members' minds, there were no premature celebrations.

The night started slowly with supporters trickling into the spacious Sky City Convention Centre.

While the mood was hopeful, the drinking was slow and the conversation restrained.

It only started tipping into celebration as New Zealand First leader Winston Peters' came on to one of the giant TV screens to concede.

With National's vote holding up above 45 percent as the vote count crossed 80 percent the sense of victory became more palpable.

When it passed 90 percent National's campaign manager and list candidate Steven Joyce called the result and began working the floor with handshakes and congratulations.

The cheers rose another notch as the extent of Labour's bloodbath in the electorates became evident and by the time outgoing Prime Minister Helen Clark conceded in a phone call to National leader John Key, the party was in full swing.

But it wasn't always gracious.

As Miss Clark left her house to head to Labour's election-night headquarters there were loud boos.

They surfaced again as National's bogeywoman of the past decade gave her concession speech.

A special jeer was also reserved for outgoing Labour Minister Judith Tizard -- frequently ridiculed by National as an undeserving Clark crony -- who lost her Auckland Central seat to National newcomer Nikki Kaye.

As National's hero, Mr Key, left his Parnell mansion, smiling and waving, the crowd erupted.

When he arrived at Sky City there were chaotic scenes with about 10 Diplomatic Protection Squad officers having to fend off a mob of frenzied party members and media as he moved to the stage to loud drumming from a group of Sikh supporters.

Sharing the stage with his wife Bronagh and children Max and Stephie, Mr Key let rip.

"New Zealand has spoken. Hundreds of thousands across the country, they have voted for change."

With a Cheshire grin spread wide across his face he spelt out his intentions to lead a centrist government that united the country.

"Whether you voted for National or not, tonight you have my pledge -- I will lead a government that serves the interests of all New Zealanders."

With the potential Labour-Greens-Progressives-NZ First-Maori Party "five-headed monster" slain the fairytale ending was cemented and the celebrations moved into overdrive.

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