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Oct 8 2022

Tory Whanau celebrates mayoral win, urges ‘reconnection’

Tory Whanau could be electorally vulnerable if she loses support from the left. Photo: Ollie Neas

Speaking to a jubilant victory crowd in Wellington this evening, mayor-elect Tory Whanau said the election had seen a lot of anger directed at candidates by “groups that seek to divide us.” The challenge was to find means of connection with those lost to misinformation and hate, she said. “I will always find a way to reconnect with those who we may have lost to questionable causes.”

Whanau, a former Green chief of staff standing as an independent endorsed by the party, was elected in a landslide today, beating out incumbent Andy Foster and Labour-backed Paul Eagle by wide margins.

Tory Whanau speaks to supporters in central Wellington. Photo: Ollie Neas

At least one member of the crowd was weeping with what one can only assume was joy as Whanau declared that “Wellington has said they’re ready for change”, and that it was time to “look to a future in which our tamariki can own their own home” and “don’t need to worry about the quality of their water.”

In thanking her supporters, she gave special credit to Metiria Turei, Marama Davidson, Golriz Ghahraman, Celia Wade Brown, Chlöe Swarbrick, and James Shaw. “It’s never about power; it’s always about representation,” she said. “That’s the thing about us progressives, right.”

Multiple Greens candidates elected to Greater Wellington regional council


Four Green candidates have been elected to the 12 seats of Greater Wellington Regional Council. Yadana Saw and incumbent Thomas Nash in the Poneke constituency, incumbent Quentin Duthie in the Lower Hutt constituency, and Robyn Smith in the Tawa constituency have all promised urgent climate action as regional councillors. Green candidate Asher Wilson-Goldman lost out to incumbent Penny Gaylor in the Kāpiti Coast constituency.

Other councillors include Simon Woolf and incumbents Daran Ponter and David Lee, for Poneke; David Bassett and incumbent Ken Laban in Lower Hutt; incumbent Ros Conelly in Upper Hutt; and incumbent Chris Kirk-Burnnand in Porirua-Tawa.

A bus in Wellington (Photo: RNZ / Emma Hatton)

Greater Wellington, responsible for transport in the region, holds a significant degree of responsibility for the Let’s Get Wellington Moving plan, a collaboration with the city council and government to revitalise transport in the region, as well as emergency management and the climate crisis.

The major mayoral results, in sum 


After an afternoon flurry, let’s draw a breath and take stock. Here’s the lay of the local body land with progress results (representing around 90% of the overall vote) in. 

In Auckland, Wayne Brown has beaten Efeso Collins to the mayoralty, by a whopping margin on a low turnout, to become the first right-leaning leader of the Super City. Paula Southgate has been re-elected mayor of Hamilton, though was run close by rival Geoff Taylor. In Wellington, Tory Whanau is the elected mayor – the Labour MP finished up fourth, with incumbent Andy Foster second and Ray Chung third. 

In Nelson, veteran MP Nick Smith saw off closest challenger Matt Lawrey to become mayor. Phil Mauger will be new mayor of Christchurch, defeating closest rival David Meates. In Dunedin, Aaron Hawkins has been deposed by councillor Jules Radich

Vince Cocurullo goes from councillor to mayor in Whangārei. Veteran councilllor Ann Court does the same in the Far North, probably: she reports “its too close to call yet with specials still to be counted”. Craig Jepson becomes mayor of Kaipara.

In Rotorua, Tania Tapsell has been elected mayor. In Whakatane, Nándor Tánczos’ mayoral bid has fallen short, with Victor Luca taking the job. Gisborne has re-elected Rehette Stoltz. Kirsten Wise has been elected to a second term as mayor of Napier. In Hastings, Sandra Hazlehurst was re-elected unopposed, as was Alex Walker in Central Hawke’s Bay.

New Plymouth mayor Neil Holdom has won a third term. Hamish McDouall’s re-election bid has failed in Whanganui, with Andrew Tripe the new mayor. Weston Kirton is mayor again in Ruapehu District after a break of 20-odd years. He didn’t find out immediately because he was officiating a wedding.

Grant Smith was easily re-elected mayor in Palmerston North. Bernie Wanden has been re-elected as mayor of Horowhenua. Janet Holborow goes from deputy to become the new mayor of Kapiti. In Porirua, Anita Baker was re-elected mayor by a landslide. Wayne Guppy is re-elected as Upper Hutt mayor, as is Campbell Barry in Hutt City

Tim King has been re-elected mayor of Tasman, as has Nigel Bowen in Timaru. Councillor Glyn Lewers has won a tight race in Queenstown. In Invercargill, the deputy becomes the mayor, with Nobby Clark defeating broadcaster Marcus Lush and sitting mayor Tim Shadbolt finishing well down the field. 

Turnout running hot at Eden Park

A strong start and it’s only going to build into the night ahead of the Black Ferns’ first game in the Rugby World Cup. Toby Morris sends the following words and picture from the stands:

Stadium seems well over 35% full halfway through the second of three games. Great atmosphere, a good buzz building. Strong vote for Women’s rugby.

New mayor of Ruapehu officiates wedding before hearing result

Mount Ruapehu (Photo / Getty)

In Ruapehu District Council, Weston Kirton, who was previously mayor from 1995-2001, has been elected with preliminary results showing a lead of 369 votes over his nearest rival, Elijah Pue. Kirton, who also works as a celebrant, didn’t hear the news for a few hours, as he was officiating a wedding. “I didn’t want to turn the wedding down and disappoint people just because it was election day,” he said, when The Spinoff called him to ask how he was feeling. “They’re delighted that I’m the mayor who officiated their wedding.”

Kirton, who has been a representative on Horizons District Council this year, told The Spinoff that his priorities are housing and infrastructure. “There are lots of issues to deal with,” he said. “But I’m just one of the team – we’ll deal with them one at a time and I’m sure it’s achievable.” He was confident putting his name down for election, he said, because he had the support of his son Andrew Kirton, who was the campaign manager for the Labour Party’s 2017 central election.

Mount Ruapehu (Photo / Getty)

Environment Canterbury candidates include two former city councillors


Candidates elected to regional council Environment Canterbury include former Christchurch City Councillors Deon Swiggs (in Christchurch West/Ōpuna) and David East (in Christchurch North East/Ōrei). Swiggs, an entrepreneur who became visible across the city following the 2011 earthquakes. He was ousted from the city council in 2019 after being investigated for sending “grossly inappropriate” messages to young people.

In North Canterbury/Ōpukepuke Claire McKay and Grant Edge have kept their seats, as have John Sunckell and Ian McKenzie in Mid Canterbury/Ōpākihi. Nick Ward has replaced Elizabeth McKenzie in South Canterbury/Ōtuhituhi, joining incumbent Peter Scott. The People’s Choice, a left-leaning local ticket, has candidates Joe Davies in Ōrei and Craig Pauling in Ōpuna. In Christchurch South/Ōwhanga, Vicky Southworth returns, joined by newcomer Paul Dietsche. Greg Byrnes and Genevieve Robinson are fresh faces in Christchurch Central/Ōhoko. These councillors will be joined by two Ngāi Tahu representatives with full voting powers after a piece of new legislation in August guaranteed Māori representation on the council.

pin on map in canterbury, local elections sign and braided river
Braided rivers are iconic to Canterbury. (Image: Getty/Tina Tiller)

Environment Canterbury, responsible for disaster management and transport as well as biodiversity and environmental policy, faces a number of challenges this term. Among them is managing the braided rivers that carry water and gravel from the Southern Alps to the ocean, prone to flooding as the climate crisis changes patterns of rain and snowmelt. With the council agreeing to a trial of $2 bus fares and the idea of passenger rail floated by a number of candidates, transport is a key issue too.

Jacinda Ardern sends congratulations, raises turnout concerns

PM Jacinda Ardern in San Francisco (Photo by JOSH EDELSON/AFP via Getty Images)

The prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, has released a statement sending congratulations to those elected today, saying: “The government works closely with local government, and as we move forward with our economic recovery we’ll keep doing that, especially as we both face the long-term challenges of needing to grow our housing stock, keep investing in transport, public transport and our ageing water infrastructure. And as the challenges of climate change and the severe weather events it brings continue, we need to join forces to reduce its impact, prepare and recover.”

She offered “special congratulations to the new mayors in our major centres” but made no particular mention of the defeats for the Labour-endorsed candidates in Auckland and Wellington, Efeso Collins and Paul Eagle. She said: “The government works closely with local government, and as we move forward with our economic recovery we’ll keep doing that, especially as we both face the long-term challenges of needing to grow our housing stock, keep investing in transport, public transport and our ageing water infrastructure. And as the challenges of climate change and the severe weather events it brings continue, we need to join forces to reduce its impact, prepare and recover.”

With turnout likely to end up on par or below last election, at a little over 40% across the country, she added: “I’m also keen to work with local government on how we make voting more accessible. Greater participation in elections is good for democracy so we need to work to increase turnout. I look forward to catching up with the new local government leadership over the coming weeks and months.”

Southgate reelected in Hamilton with a narrow margin

Paula Southgate: ‘Start it, make it successful, walk away. That’s what you should do as a politician.’ (Photo: Facebook / Design: Archi Banal)

Incumbent Paula Southgate has been provisionally reelected in Hamilton, receiving 13,693 votes to current deputy mayor Greg Taylor’s 12,395, a difference of 1,298 votes. The city was holding its first election via the STV system. In a profile on The Spinoff last month, Southgate describe herself as “positive and collaborative”; on Policy, she says that her priorities are making Hamilton more safe, improving transport option for the city, and facilitating sustainable growth.

In the city’s Eastern ward, Ryan Hamilton, Anna Casey-Cox, Maxine van Oosten, Mark Donovan, Andrew Bydder and Kesh Naidoo-Rauf have been provisionally elected as councillors. In the Western ward Greg Taylor, Angela O’Leary, Ewan Wilson, Sarah Thomson, Emma Pike and Louise Hutt will be sitting at the council table.  Moko Tauariki and Te Pora Thompson are provisional councillor’s for the city’s first Māori ward.

Paula Southgate: ‘Start it, make it successful, walk away. That’s what you should do as a politician.’ (Photo: Facebook / Design: Archi Banal)

Luxon congratulates winners, takes aim at Three Waters

QUEENSTOWN, NEW ZEALAND – FEBRUARY 01: National Party leader Christopher Luxon addresses members of the Queenstown Chamber of Commerce and media during the annual New Zealand National Party caucus retreat on February 01, 2022 in Queenstown, New Zealand. The retreat brings all National Party MPs together ahead of the new parliamentary year. (Photo by James Allan/Getty Images)

National Party leader Christopher Luxon has issued a statement congratulating today’s successful candidates in mayoral and council contests. “I look forward to meeting as many of them as possible in the coming months,” he said.

Luxon said his party, which does not stand candidates in local body elections, would “work with local government to build more liveable cities and regions and support them to tackle issues like infrastructure, housing and water.”

He pledged National would overturn Three Waters legislation should it win next year’s vote. “With Labour tearing out the heart of local government with its Three Waters reforms, the role of local democracy has never been more important,” he said. “National will repeal Labour’s Three Waters reforms and ensure water assets remain in local ownership.”

Wellington elects Labour and Green aligned councillors, independents


Election results for Wellington City Council show five Labour-aligned candidates and two Green-aligned candidates (in addition to new mayor Tory Whanau) have been elected at a table of 16. Long time councillor Iona Pannett, whose Green Party support was removed after she failed to support rezoning for Wellington’s heritage areas, has been reelected as an independent, while Green candidates Tamatha Paul and Laurie Foon have also returned to the table, along with Labour’s Rebecca Matthews and Teri O’Neill, current deputy mayor Sarah Free and the more conservative Diane Calvert and Nicola Young.

For the first time in 30 years, Andy Foster won’t be at the table. The outgoing mayor was a nine term councillor before being elected in 2019. Councillor Fleur Fitzsimmons, rumored to have stood down to stand in Rongotai if Paul Eagle had become mayor and triggered a by-election, is gone as well.

New councillors include Ray Chung (who also ran for mayor), Ben McNulty, Tony Randle, John Apanowicz, Nureddin Abdurahman, Tim Brown, and the city’s first Māori ward councillor, Matthew Reweti.

Auckland Council sees return of many familiar faces


When Wayne Brown takes his seat as the new mayor of Auckland, joining him at the table will be 14 councillors reelected to another term.

Councillors Richard Hills, Christine Fletcher, Josephine Bartley, Chris Darby, Shane Henderson, Desley Simpson, Daniel Newman, Angela Dalton, Alf Filipaina, Sharon Stewart, Greg Sayers, Wayne Walker, John Watson, and Daniel Newman have all been reelected. (Is that 14? It’s difficult to count when you’ve been looking at a lot of election results).

Pippa Coom, Paul Young and Linda Cooper have all lost their seats, with Cooper missing out in Waitakere by only 538 votes. Bill Cashmore, Cathy Casey and mayoral hopeful Efeso Collins were not standing again for their council positions.

The new faces? Will McKenzie, a Communities and Residents candidate, in Albert-Eden-Puketāpapa, has less than a 300 vote lead on City Vision candidate Julie Fairey, the kind of margin that might change with special and late votes. Elsewhere, Lotu Fuli, a Labour candidate, has been elected in the Manakau ward; council veteran Mike Lee in Waitemata and Gulf, returning to unseat Pippa Coom; Ken Turner, who replaces Linda Cooper in Waitākere; former National minister Maurice Williamson in Howick; and Andy Baker in Franklin.

Andrew Tripe elected mayor of Whanganui


First-time candidate Andrew Tripe has won the Whanganui mayoralty, ousting Hamish McDouall, the city’s mayor since 2016.

Tripe, a management consultant, has 6,901 votes according to preliminary results, with Labour-backed McDouall on 4,981.

Tory Whanau claims victory in Wellington

Tory Whanau. Photo: Toby Manhire. Image: Archi Banal.

Tory Whanau will be the next mayor of Wellington.

While no official results have been released, the independent candidate has tweeted an image declaring “Wellington, we did it”.

“The preliminary results are in, and I am incredibly humbled to confirm that I will be Wellington’s next mayor,” Whanau said in a statement.

“Every day I will do what I can to make this the best city it can possibly be. A city with thriving communities that we can get around using reliable, low carbon public transport options, and where more of us have safe, affordable places to live.

“I would like to acknowledge and thank the current mayor, Andy Foster, for his dedication and service to this city.

“When we started this campaign, I was an unknown. But thanks to an awesome grassroots campaign, positivity, a progressive policy platform, and most importantly the people of Wellington, we have come out of nowhere to beat two high profile politicians. This shows people are ready for change.

“I am looking forward to working with everyone who has been given the privilege of representing our communities. Wellingtonians expect us to rebuild from the last three years and work together for the good of our city. I look forward to hearing everyone’s ideas about how we deliver the change people deserve.

“My promise to Wellington is this: as your mayor, I will listen. I believe we can build trust in our system and bring our city on board. Together, Wellington will work towards a climate resilient city that looks after its community.”

Former MP Nick Smith elected in Nelson

Nick Smith: ‘Our council has lost its way – I would encourage electors to vote for change’. (Photo: Toby Manhire / Design: Archi Banal)

Progress results show that former National MP Nick Smith has been elected as mayor of Nelson in the city’s first STV election. In an interview with The Spinoff last month, Smith said that his experience as a minister would help him be an effective mayor.

Nick Smith: ‘Our council has lost its way – I would encourage electors to vote for change’. (Photo: Toby Manhire / Design: Archi Banal)

Councillor Matt Lawrey, who wasn’t contesting his seat in order to run for mayor, is gone from the council table, but younger candidate Rohan O’Neill Stevens has been reelected as councillor, despite not making it as mayor. Candidate Kahu Paki Paki was elected in the first Māori ward that the city has had.

Although a number of candidates stood as part of right-wing Nelson Citizen’s Alliance, only incumbent councillor Tim Skinner and James Hodgson were elected. The Citizen’s Alliance group came under fire for a misinformation riddled attack ad they ran in the Nelson Weekly newspaper earlier this week.

This term has seen devastating floods in Nelson and a divided council, with multiple councillors subject to a Code of Conduct process that has been identified as unhelpful for building council relationships. Smith told The Spinoff that he could manage relationships in the council, despite previously being investigated in Parliament for his treatment of staff.

Jules Radich beats incumbent Aaron Hawkins to become Dunedin mayor


One-term councillor Jules Radich has unseated Aaron Hawkins to become the new mayor of Dunedin.

Hawkins did not stand for council alongside his mayoral re-election bid, so will be leaving local politics entirely when he departs the mayoralty.

Preliminary results have not yet been released, but Hawkins has conceded the race, tweeting “Alas it wasn’t to be.”

Glyn Lewers elected as new Queenstown mayor

Queenstown mayoral candidates are focused on tourism and housing pressures. (Image: Shanti Mathias/ Design: Tina Tiller)

Glyn Lewers, a former engineer, has been elected mayor of Queenstown Lakes District Council, replacing outgoing Jim Boult. Lewers received 3,678 votes, ahead of challenger Jon Mitchell (3,105) and lawyer Olivia Wensley (2,110) votes. While fourth candidate Neeta Shetty only recieved 432 votes for mayor, she was comfortably elected as a councillor for the Arrowtown-Kawarau ward.

Visitor management, proposed airport expansion, and housing are key issues for the incoming council, as well as responding to the ever-present climate crisis. In debates in September attended by The Spinoff, Lewers said he would be supportive of Queenstown introducing a visitor levy to fund infrastructure in the region.

The overall voter turnout was 37.25% for the district.

four queenstown mayoral candidates sit in a row, olivia wensley is blonde with a jacket, glyn lewers is short and stocky and wearing a grey suit, neeta shetta has dip dyed hair and a blazer, jon mitchell is a bald white man with long legs in jeans
Queenstown mayoral candidates are focused on tourism and housing pressures. (Image: Shanti Mathias/ Design: Tina Tiller)

Phil Mauger elected mayor of Christchurch

Phil Mauger thinks that Christchurch communities aren’t feeling heard. (Image: Shanti Mathias/Tina Tiller)

Phil Mauger has been elected as Christchurch’s new mayor with 50,086 votes, according to early results. His closest rival, former health board boss David Meates had 46,315 votes.

Mauger takes over from Lianne Dalziel, who announced last year she would not be standing for a fourth term.

In a statement, Mauger said he was “humbled and excited” to be the new mayor.

“I am very pleased that my message of regaining people’s trust in council and getting things done has resonated with so many people.”

An election billboard with phil major (white man in suit) on it. background is a fence
An election billboard for Phil Mauger (Image: Shanti Mathias)

Tania Tapsell elected mayor of Rotorua


National’s Tania Tapsell has won the mayoralty of Rotorua by a convincing margin.

With 90% of the vote counted, Tapsell is on 6,254 votes, around double the numbers of each of her three closest challengers, Fletcher Tabuteau, Ben Sandford and Reynold MacPherson.

New Auckland mayor Wayne Brown ‘proud to succeed as an independent’

Wayne Brown speaks to media at Ponsonby Central, Auckland. Photo: Shanti Mathias

The mood was celebratory at Ponsonby Central, where successful mayoral candidate Wayne Brown addressed supporters and the media before opening some champagne. He said that progress results showed that he had 145,000 votes – apparently more than 50,000 more than main challenger Efeso Collins.

After months of campaign events together, Brown said he considered Collins a friend and that his competitor  “he has something to offer Auckland”.

Wayne Brown speaks to media at Ponsonby Central, Auckland

In a brief speech, Brown said that he was “proud to succeed as an independent candidate not endorsed by anyone”. While Auckland Council would be “a whole new challenge” it would not be “the first thing I’ve had to fix”. He said his campaign success was due to clear messaging and not making promises he couldn’t keep. His priorities on Monday morning would be to confirm election numbers, meet fellow councillors, and “get on with it”.

When asked by The Spinoff whether he had a mandate considering low turnout numbers – barely 10% of eligible Aucklanders voted for him – Brown said that “no government has ever had as large a mandate as I have.”

Wayne Brown has been elected mayor of Auckland


Update, 2.30pm: Progress results for the mayoralty are currently as follows:

Wayne Brown 144,619

Efeso Collins 89,811

Craig Lord 18,293

Wayne Brown has defeated Efeso Collins to the Auckland mayoralty by what his campaign is calling a “significant margin”. Brown, former mayor of the Far North, was standing on a pledge to “fix Auckland”. 

“Auckland voters have sent the clearest possible message to Auckland Council, and central government in Wellington, and I promise you that you’ve been heard,” said Brown in a statement. “At more than 300 campaign events over the last six months, Aucklanders have made clear to me and fellow candidate Efeso Collins that you love our city, but that you know much of it is broken.”

Despite a turnout that suggests only around a third of eligible voters cast a ballot, Brown said he had a strong mandate.

“It is now up to me, the new governing body and the local boards to act on our mandate, fix what is broken and deliver the change you demand.” He said the number one issue was transport, followed by crime, “unfinished projects and endless red cones, rising costs and council waste”.

He said: “Under my leadership, Auckland will make clear what our region wants and needs without any so-called ‘help’ setting our priorities from central-government politicians and bureaucrats in Wellington. Let me be very clear: Wellington’s job is to listen to what Aucklanders say are our priorities, and to fund them – not impose ideological schemes like the $30 billion airport tram, untrammelled housing intensification and Three Waters on a city that doesn’t want them.”

Brown thanked his family, campaign team and supporters, and acknowledged Efeso Collins, “who I have come to regard as a friend and would like to work with over the three years ahead.”

He said he would speak on his plans for reform of Council-Controlled Organisations tomorrow then take the rest of the day off before receiving a full economic and financial briefing on Monday morning from senior council officers.

Collins is expected to speak in the next hour. More detailed results to follow.

Nobby Clark beats Marcus Lush and Tim Shadbolt to Invercargill mayoralty


Nobby Clark, formerly deputy mayor of Invercargill, has won the mayoralty with 6,537 votes in the progress results with about 90% counted. Broadcaster Marcus Lush is second with 3,785 votes.

Invercargill City Council Deputy Electoral Officer Michael Morris said with only 2104 ordinary votes and a number of special votes still to be counted, the result was clear. “We are delighted to see yet another strong voter turnout from our passionate Invercargill community,” he said. “There were a large number of candidates for Mayor and it was a tight race but our city has spoken and we are pleased to announce Nobby Clark will be our new Mayor.”

Nobby Clark with Tim Shadbolt (Photo: ICC Facebook)

Shadbolt, who had acknowledged victory was beyond him, got just 874 votes. Morris said: “Sir Tim Shadbolt is New Zealand’s longest-serving mayor. His mayoralty spanned over 24 years and we know the Invercargill community has a strong affection and gratitude for his hard work and commitment to the role and the city over the past two decades. On Tuesday, I was coming home from Wellington, I told my taxi driver I was going to Invercargill and he immediately asked ‘how is Mayor Tim?’. He had been in his taxi once, and I think that’s the impact of Tim.”

Campbell Barry set to return as Hutt City mayor; STV rejected

(Photo: Getty Images / The Spinoff)

We have our first numbers. Hutt City’s incumbent mayor, Campbell Barry, is on the brink of victory. The margin is far from overwhelming, but with 90% counted a lead of more than 1,000 is enough to call it: the Labour candidate, elected to the mayoralty in 2019 at the age of 31, will be back for another term.

Barry has 12,537 votes to Tony Stallinger’s 11,272. Falgoon Patel trails on 937.

Voters also had a say on a change in the electoral system. Did they want to shift to STV. Nope. 16,105 voted to stick with FPP, versus 6,635 keen to change.

The full progress results, including the council race, can be found here.


Endorsements and tickets contribute to candidate campaigning

Endorsements are great for campaigning, but what do they mean after the elections? (Image: Tina Tiller)

One element we’ve been watching during these local elections is the role of party endorsements and candidate tickets. Speaking to The Spinoff last month, local government academic Julienne Molineaux said that central party involvement in local government has traditionally been confined to Auckland, Wellington, and Christchurch. However the last few local government terms have seen endorsements beyond these places; the Green Party has endorsed candidates in Dunedin, Nelson, and Palmerston North, for instance. “Endorsements make it easier for people in those parties to use their resources to support [a candidate’s] campaign,” Molineaux said. 

While there are some differences in language (a “Labour” candidate will likely be using more party resources than a “Labour endorsed” candidate), one intention of endorsements is to give elected members common ground for policy. Since local governments don’t caucus, or agree to vote along certain lines, as happens in central government, the success of a policy depends on an ability to work with others and convince them to support motions and budgets. 

Some candidates use party endorsements to signal their politics to voters and sow seeds of cooperation before an election. Others use tickets, agreeing – usually with no formal arrangement – to share some of the same policies and perhaps a slogan. In Christchurch, mayoral hopeful Phil Mauger has explicitly supported 13 other candidates for Christchurch City Council, and donated to four of them. In Wellington, incumbent mayor Andy Foster has a loose arrangement with six other candidates, some of whom are running against him or each other, while Labour candidate Paul Eagle has denied supporting a range of candidates using suspiciously similar branding. 

Polls close as voting queues reported

Bong! The clock has struck 12 and ballot boxes are being sealed shut around the country. Just over an hour ago Stuff journalist Dileepa Fonseka offered a glimpse of the queue to special vote in Auckland. Fittingly, perhaps, there is a hint of Salvador Dalí about the image.

Councillor Richard Hills commented: “One of only 3 places where you can special vote before 12, in a city of 1.7m people. THREE.”

Antivax group urges supporters to get out and vote

Getty Images / Archi Banal

The antivax, misinformation-spruiking outfit Voices for Freedom has issued a late appeal to its supporters urging them to cast a vote today in the local elections. “Make it count, vote this morning,” it urges in an email newsletter directing readers to candidates sympathetic to their cause. I advises: “Voter turnout is at an all time low. This means your voice will have more weight than ever before. Make it count. Vote this morning. And call your friends too.”

As first reported by the Spinoff in early August, the group has mobilised to take advantage of low engagement in local body elections. “We can really sway the results, throw our weight around,” said one organiser in a video briefing. VFF has since run several more online seminars, surveyed candidates and sent more than 20 emails encouraging supporters to vote.

Fact Aotearoa has a useful collection of the many published media stories about candidates with misinformation or conspiracy theory links.

Polls close at noon.


Beyond elected members: the firsts at the 2022 local elections

Voters will be using  Single Transferable Voting and Māori wards for the first time (Image: Tina Tiller)

As well as finding out who has been elected to represent their communities in local government for the next three years, the results announced this afternoon will reveal how new systems of voter organisation are working. Four councils, including Hamilton and Nelson, are using the Single Transferable Vote system for the first time, meaning voter preferences are taken into account even if their first choice doesn’t get past the threshold. Hutt City Council is also holding a referendum about whether to use this system next time around – we’ll let you know the results of that when we have them. 

With legislation introduced in 2021 and 2022 designed to make it easier for councils to create Māori wards, 32 councils are joining Waikato and Bay of Plenty Regional Councils and Wairoa District Council in having Māori wards in the 2022 elections. This includes councils for Wellington, Hamilton, Porirua, Whakatane, and New Plymouth. Like the Māori seats used in central government elections, Māori wards represent voters who are registered on the Māori electoral roll at a council level. Creating a Māori ward is the decision of an individual council, which may mean Māori wards will be introduced in other centres by 2025.

Still on the ballot is the option to vote via the ratepayer roll, which allows people who own property in council areas where they don’t live to vote twice. A petition to remove this option, hosted by advocacy group Renter’s United, has over 1,000 signatures. Changing the law that allows ratepayer voting would require an amendment of the Local Electoral Act 2001.

When will local election results be announced?

At the 2019 local elections, 235 people won seats unopposed. Image: Tina Tiller

A number of people are asking, very reasonably, what time we will know the results in local elections around New Zealand. Here’s what we have to go on. Polls close at noon today, and the earliest of the “progress results” are likely to start arriving from a little over an hour later. The process is this: the election services provider (most councils contract to one of two private companies) informs the council; the council in turn informs candidates and then publishes the results on their site. This count will include votes that have arrived by the end of Friday (see turnout latest here), but not those cast today.

Warwick Lampp, electoral officer for, told me it differs across the country but “about 2pm” today was the best estimate. Dale Ofsoske of Election Services said “we expect to send [progress results] to councils by 3pm”. Auckland Council is also going with “approximately 3pm”, but our bet, based on previous years (see below) is we’re likely to have an idea earlier than that.

Preliminary results, including votes cast on Saturday, will follow, with timing varying around the country. In Wellington, they’re aiming for first thing Sunday (or maybe even very late on Saturday). In Auckland, it will be about noon on Monday. That count will still not include special votes, meaning tight contests may not be resolved until the final count and results are declared later in the week.

In 2019, Hutt City and Horowhenua set the pace, with results posted around 1.10pm. Invercargill wasn’t far behind, so that might be the first high-profile contest today. Both Auckland and Christchurch results for the mayoral and council elections were published shortly after 2pm last time. STV contests take longer to count, assuming no candidate gets over 50% on the first tally. Dunedin was around 3pm in 2019 and Wellington, well, Wellington was so close that the preliminary result, putting Andy Foster on top, wasn’t announced till Sunday.

A whole lot of people have already been elected

A beach in the remote Chatham Islands, where 8 councillors have been elected unopposed (Image: Shanti Mathias)

Some elected members – more than 200, in fact – can rest easy today, with their seats at the local government table guaranteed by dint of a lack of competition. 

In Central Otago District Council, incumbent mayor Tim Cadogan has been reelected unopposed, with incumbent councillor Stuart Duncan also elected without opposition. Cadogan, who has been mayor for six years, says that dealing with infrastructure like bridges and water supply issues is a crucial challenge for the region. (Incidentally, Cadogan’s brother Bryan Cadogan is mayor of Clutha District Council, where he’s seeking a fifth term). With housing shortages a major problem, this term the council rejected a proposal to give ratepayer land to an affordable housing trust and will need to manage the potential development of Tarras airport in their district. The four governing members of Central Otago Health Incorporated, which runs the community owned hospital in the area, have also been returned to their positions. 

a long empty beach with streaks of shiny gold clouds. very veautiful and peaceful looking
A beach in the remote Chatham Islands, where 8 councillors have been elected unopposed (Image: Shanti Mathias)

In the Chatham Islands (which this reporter visited earlier this year), the eight current councillors have been re-elected without opposition, although current deputy mayor Greg Horler is vying for the mayoral chains against incumbent Monique Croon. The tiny population of the islands means that there is a citizen:councillor ratio of nearly 70:1 (Auckland, in comparison, has a citizen to councillor ratio of approximately 78,600:1). For the Chathams, housing provision and income support is a major concern, as the cost of transporting materials makes living much more expensive than elsewhere in the country. 

Hurunui District Council, Kawerau District Council, Central Hawkes Bay District Council, Hauraki District Council, Hastings District Council, and Stratford District Council have all also elected mayors unopposed, while many council and local board candidates have won seats in wards or areas with no other contesters. 

How is turnout tracking?

Image: Archi Banal

Right then. With four hours to go till polls snap shut like an angry clam, the picture on turnout looks, well, not so much different to last time. In Auckland, the number reported last night was 29.4%, as compared with 31.5% in 2019. (A list of drop-off locations across Auckland is here.)

In Wellington, 35% of votes had arrived, bettering the 31.9% at the same stage last time. (Here's a list of places to cast your vote today.)

In Christchurch the line has flattened a little to 39.2%, but is still tracking for a higher turnout that 2019. (Voting boxes around Ōtautahi this morning are listed here.)

Elsewhere, Dunedin sits on 40%, compared with 39.8% at the same stage last time. Invercargill is at 42.2% (47.8% last time), Queenstown 35.5% (42.4%), Nelson 41.9% (45.1%), Hutt City 32.3% (36.5%), Hamilton 24.2% (33.1%), Rotorua Lakes 40% (39.4%)

Contests to watch today

Image: Archi Banal

Top of the list is the place you live and, hopefully, vote (the best place to compare candidates, as the minutes tick down is of course, but here’s a quick rundown of some of the elections we’ve been paying attention to, from south to north.

In Invercargill, a prominent broadcaster, the deputy mayor and a former MP are among the frontrunners. Tim Shadbolt, first elected mayor in 1992, is standing for re-election, but, in light of this interview with Stewart Sowman-Lund, does he really want it? Shanti Mathias visited Queenstown, where at least four people are in the running for the mayoralty, and the impact of tourism, for better and worse, is centre stage.

The Otago Regional Council is fascinating; is it Slime for change? In Dunedin, Aaron Hawkins faces at least three serious challengers who currently sit on council: his old foe Lee Vandervis, Jules Radich, and Sophie Barker. There’s no polling, but it feels like it could be close. Shanti also spent time in Christchurch, where she spoke to both of the frontrunners, David Meates and Phil Mauger. The only public polling put Mauger out in front, but that was a good month ago.

An intriguing race is shaping up in Nelson, too, with veteran politician Nick Smith seeking the mayoralty, with three viable alternatives hoping to deny him. A fracas over an attack ad run in a local newspaper added some late heat to the contest.

Wellington sees Tory Whanau and Paul Eagle seeking to unseat Andy Foster. The three of them gathered during the campaign for a lively Spinoff-hosted debate at Meow (warning: contains poetry). Eagle was ahead in the only public poll, but by a whisker over Whanau.

Stewart also headed to Rotorua, where some familiar faces are offering a fresh start in a region under pressure. Aimie Cronin interviewed the two frontrunners in Hamilton: incumbent Paula Southgate and challenger Geoff Taylor.

Then there’s Auckland, of course: the battle of attrition. Leo Molloy is gone. Viv Beck, gone (she’s on the ballot but doesn’t want your vote). Polls put Wayne Brown a few points ahead of Efeso Collins; it may come down to who can best convert their support into actual votes in a low turnout contest. There are some compelling battles for council places, too.

Other contests we’re keeping a close eye on: the Far North, Bay of Plenty, Gisborne, Whanganui, Palmy, Hutt City, the Wellington Regional Council.

What did we overlook? Let us know what to keep an eye on by emailing

It’s not too late to vote, even if you don’t have your papers

Why does the orange voting guy have no fingers?

By now you’ve very much left it too late to bung your democratic envelope into a post box, but all is not lost. Voting boxes can be found in a range of places this morning. Check your council website for details. But move swiftly: those ballot boxes will be sealed shut at noon today.

If you don’t have your papers, whether it’s because, like many, many people including the literal minister for local government, you didn’t receive them at your home, or because you mistook them for crepe paper and ribboned into bunting to mark the passing of the Queen, you can cast a special vote. Same story: look up locations on your council site.

If you’re not yet enrolled, the news is less bright. Midnight was the cut-off. But you might as well enrol now while it’s on your mind. There’s another election next year.

Brown wins in Auckland, Whanau in Wellington – local election live updates


It’s Saturday October 8. Welcome to our live coverage of local elections across Aotearoa. Most of the progress results are in now, representing around 90% of the vote. Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin all have new mayors.  Scroll on for all the information as it lands, from our team throughout the day and into the night. We might even take a glance at the opening day of the Rugby World Cup, just to cleanse the palate.

The Spinoff’s local elections coverage is made possible by the Public Interest Journalism fund via NZ On Air.