On 26 October 2017, Jacinda Ardern became the first Prime Minister of New Zealand to be raised in a Mormon household. She left the LDS Church in her mid-twenties, stating it conflicted with many of her personal views including her support for gay rights, and she now identifies as agnostic.
I was interested to see how the most concentrated community of Mormonism in New Zealand voted in the 2017 election – the people of Temple View, Hamilton.
Would they give their support to a party led by an ex-Mormon, who in most accounts still talks positively about her experiences with the church and her upbringing? Or would they shun the former church member and her party, especially given her progressive social views that are at odds with Mormon doctrine?
For those unfamiliar with Hamilton, Temple View is a small, predominantly Mormon community on the outskirts of Hamilton, built around the Hamilton New Zealand Temple. The temple was constructed between 1955-1958 alongside Church College of New Zealand, a LDS Church secondary school that was open from 1958-2009. When the temple was completed in 1958, it was the first temple to be built by the LDS Church in the Southern Hemisphere and the second to be build outside of North America.
At the last census, 3.44% of Hamiltonians identify themselves as Mormon (compared to 1.04% nationwide), and many Mormons in Hamilton either live in Temple View or have a strong connection to the community.
I looked back over the past four elections to see how the Temple View community cast their votes.
In the past, some socially conservative parties have done much better in Temple View compared to the nationwide result. In 2014, New Zealand First got the top place in Temple View with 32.5%. Colin Craig’s Conservative Party, which received 3.99% of the total votes in 2014, managed to get 10.3% of Temple View residents’ votes! That’s despite the disastrous final week of campaigning when the Conservative Party’s press secretary resigned due to Colin Craig’s behaviour.
So how did Labour Party under Jacinda Ardern’s leadership do in Temple View this election? Very well, indeed!
The percentage of party votes from 2008-2017 are based on polling booth data from the Hamilton West general electorate and Hauraki-Waikato Māori electorate.
Labour nearly doubled its level of support in Temple View. While there could have been many reasons that Temple View residents shifted their support towards the Labour Party, it is safe to say at Jacinda’s local, Mormon connection played a part here.
I will continue to look at how Hamiltonians cast their votes in 2017 election with an in-depth look at different suburbs and communities.
Title photo credit: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints