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upset for kiwi-indians as national fails to send any to parliament

National's Siva Kilari with incoming Prime Minister Chris Luxon

Many Kiwi-Indian candidates are facing dejection after months of build up to an election that promised the prospect of greater representation of Indian origin members in New Zealand’s Parliament. 

The National Party is looking set to lead a coalition government with ACT, and perhaps even NZ First, but despite the blue wave none of its Kiwi-Indian candidates will make it to Parliament. 

Siva Kilari’s failure to make the cut will go down as the biggest disappointment for the Kiwi-Indian community. Placed 30 on National’s list, the first-generation entrepreneur is pretty much out of contention to make it through. 

With the last few votes still being counted as of the morning of October 15, 2023, National had 50 seats in the Parliament. With 45 electorate wins, that leaves only five list positions with Siva at the 10th spot in that waiting list, effectively keeping him out of Parliament. 

The man from Tirupati in southern India, who came to New Zealand as a student in 2002, lost the electorate vote to Arena Williams in the Labour stronghold of Manurewa, by a margin of 5,260 votes. 

Mahesh Muralidhar, who is placed further down the list than Siva, went down fighting to Chloe Swarbrick in Auckland Central. The tech entreprenuer lost by 2,074 votes to the Green Party star after trailing closely till the end.

The National Party fielded its biggest-ever contingent of Kiwi-Indians in the 2023 general election, but its decision to place all of them at a relatively lower list position was always in question.

When The Indian Weekender broached this issue with the party’s election chair, Chris Bishop in the run up to the election, he had said he was “confident” some of its Indian origin candidates will make it to Parliament. 

“We'll see some Kiwi-Indian candidates for National become Members of Parliament after the election…and I think they'll do an outstanding job for National and for the country,” he said. 

Navtej Singh Randhawa, Karuna Muthu and Ankit Bansal, the three other Kiwi-Indians from National, also lost the electorate election and are placed further down in the party list.    

The upside for the Indian diaspora comes by way of Parmjeet Parmar, the former National MP who switched to ACT this year. She could cobble up less than 1,000 electorate votes from Pakuranga, where National’s Simeon Brown swept with 21,215 votes. Placed at the ninth position on ACT’s list, Parmar is set to be the only Kiwi-Indian face in the National-led coalition. 

Labour’s Priyanca Radhakrishnan will also return to Parliament with a strong list position despite losing her electorate seat of Maungakiekie to National’s Greg Fleming by 3,650 votes. 

Labour’s Vanushu Walters could also make it but we will know only once the final votes are counted.


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