Revealed: The famous and interesting candidates standing in our local elections

You may think you’re not interested in the local elections. But did you know the candidate pool is a smorgasbord of celebs, oddballs, and otherwise interesting people? Hayden Donnell reports.


The Spinoff local election coverage is made possible thanks to The Spinoff Members. For more about becoming a member and supporting The Spinoff’s journalism click here.


There’s so much at stake these local elections. Our future councils will play a key role in the makeup of our towns and cities. Affordable housing. Public transport. Whether we restore the winking eye and beckoning finger of Auckland’s Giant Santa. All these issues are addressed at a local level.

This is not a story about those things. This is a story about celebs. About a man who wants to create a “Nazi nation” in New Zealand. About Denise L’Estrange Corbet. This is a story about the famous, strange and otherwise interesting candidates going for local government glory. Our running list will be updated as information comes to hand (please email your tips to hayden@thespinoff.co.nz) but in the meantime, let’s start this off at the start of New Zealand.

The Far North

As the singer for classic rock band Opshop, Jason Kerrison was responsible for the hit song “Secrets”. Perhaps his biggest secret of all was his passion for local government. Kerrison is running in the Te Hiku ward of the Far North District Council this election. He’ll be up against 14 other contenders. As the lyrics to Opshop’s biggest hit, “One Day”, go: “All I can offer [Far North District Council voters] is me / I’m all I can offer [Far North District Council voters] right now”

Sue Bradford, Green Party legend, is standing against Kerrison in Te Hiku. Bradford is promising to be a strong, progressive voice in local government. She was also a strong, progressive voice in central government, a strong, progressive voice at Auckland Action Against Poverty, and a strong, progressive voice as an activist. I rate her promise zero Pinocchios.

Jay Hepi, a former gang leader, is running for mayor in the Far North under a platform focused on reducing poverty. He’s in a contest against former National MP John Carter, who once called into John Banks’s talkback radio show pretending to be a “workshy Māori” called Hone.

Kaipara

Moemoea Mohoawhenua is challenging incumbent Jason Smith for the Kaipara mayoralty. In 1997 he smashed the America’s Cup with a sledgehammer, which is easily the coolest thing any council candidate has done.*

Auckland

Tom Sainsbury is known for his appearances on The Spinoff TV and other ventures. He is running for Auckland mayor as a funny joke.

Fasitua Amosa has appeared in The Insiders Guide to Happiness, Auckland Daze, Terry Teo, The Tattooist, and Golden Boy. If he gets his way he’ll also soon appear on Whau Local Board.

To succeed, he’ll have to beat out a range of other candidates including Paul and Kathryn Davie, the real estate agents best known for being dismissed from Ray White and Harcourts after being racist on social media. The Davies are looking to win some work via the Whau election, asking voters to back a platform which appears to lean heavily on climate change denial

Keven Mealamu was a strong ball-carrier and unerringly accurate lineout thrower for rugby team the All Blacks. Can he be a strong vote-carrier and unerringly accurate lineout thrower for local government branch the Papakura Local Board? The answer is almost certainly yes.

Denise L’Estrange Corbet is known for founding the fashion label WORLD and throwing a massive wobbly over the journalism of Spinoff writer Madeleine Chapman. She is running for the Waitematā local board, and has recently been seen reciting angry rhyming poetry about mayor Phil Goff at town meetings.

WORLD founder Denise L’Estrange-Corbet. Photo: Garth Badger

Morgan Xiao wrote an article calling New Zealand critics of the Chinese Communist Party (CCM) “sons of bitches” who should be expelled from the country. He’s running for Howick Local Board under the ticket name East Vision, which is not related to City Vision. Xiao is also not associated with the Labour Party despite having many photos of himself with key Labour Party figures on his Facebook page. I hope that’s clear! 

Whakatāne

Kay Boreham is the only candidate in the country who’s desperate for people not to vote for her. Boreham accidentally enrolled as a council candidate rather than for a second stint on the Whakatāne-Ōhope Community Board. She can’t do the job due to work commitments. “It is absolutely imperative that people don’t vote for me,” Boreham told the Rotorua Daily Post, citing the cost of a potential by-election. The Spinoff is happy to work with Boreham to come up with a campaign platform noxious enough to repel all voters.

By contrast, Hinerangi Goodman does want people to vote for her. Goodman was known for her resplendent attire and eye-catching hats during a 25-year stint at Te Karere. She’s running for Whakatāne mayor and quite frankly she rules, please consider this an endorsement I guess.

One of Goodman’s opponents is Russell Orr, who recently told Radio New Zealand he didn’t like being “dragged” onto marae to talk to Māori. Orr also did this blog post. Please do not consider this an endorsement.

Hamilton

Lisa Lewis first found fame after running onto the pitch during a match between the All Blacks and Ireland at Waikato Stadium in 2006. She was eventually escorted from the field, but she never really left our national consciousness. Her run for the Hamilton mayoralty is explained in this personal, philosophical and occasionally moving candidate bio on her website. Unfortunately Lewis has declared war on media empire The Spinoff over its association with …

Louise Hutt. Full disclosure: Hutt has written stories for The Spinoff on knitting and being evicted. That prompted Lewis to allege Hutt is harnessing our power to stop her campaign getting coverage. We deny those allegations, but can confirm we definitely have the power to do that kind of thing. In any case, Hutt is a really interesting candidate: she’s young, progressive, and in charge of a good website. All of those things make her stand out in New Zealand local government. 

Bay of Plenty

Teenage barber Stacey Rose had withdrawn from the race for the Bay of Plenty Regional Council. Then on the day before nominations closed, a call from a friend convinced him to reconsider. Rose ended up being elected unopposed. Congrats, Stacey, may your life continue to be unopposed.

Tokoroa

South Waikato District Council candidate Andrew Anderson said, “New Zealand needs to create a Nazi nation”. He meant we should restrict incomes to between $30,000 and $60,000. Use different words!

Masterton

Promising to lower rates without offering details about which council services will be cut is meaningless and hollow. Despite that, Masterton candidate Tina Nixon is still the owner of the best billboard in the countryUPDATE: Tina Nixon has responded on Twitter.

Kāpiti Coast District Council

The Spinoff journalist and On The Rag host Alex Casey is standing for Kapiti Coast District Council in the Paekākāriki-Raumati ward. Good luck Alex!**

Wellington

Sir Peter Jackson is standing for mayor bankrolling the campaign of candidate Andy Foster.

Glenda Hughes, former National MP and current Parole Board member, is standing for the Greater Wellington Regional Council. 

Christchurch

Veteran mayoral contender Tubby Hansen wrote what was easily New Zealand’s most evocative candidate blurb in 2016. It begins with a promise to be a “take it easy, completely, obnoxious and sneaky Mayor”. But its closing line has stuck with me the longest. “John Key is certain to be re-elected Prime Minister next year, while Labour faces a landslide defeat, my truck has been sabotaged again,” it reads. There’s something about that abrupt swing from impersonal partisan prediction to deeply felt, immediate concern that lingers. The vulnerability of those last six words reframes and informs the bravado of the first 17. Behind all Tubby’s political posturing, he’s just a man who’s worried about his truck. Perhaps that’s true of us all in some way.

James Dann, musician and occasional Spinoff contributor, is running for Environment Canterbury.

Zahra Hussaini is running for Waimari Community Board, while Gamal Fouda is contending for a place on the Riccarton Community Board. Both candidates are Muslim, and decided to stand in the aftermath of the March 15 terror attacks in the city. It sure would be great if they were elected.

Mackenzie District

Seven Sharp reporter Julian Lee is running for mayor of Mackenzie District under the slogan “Magnify Mackenzie”. His campaign appears to be a stunt aimed at highlighting the rising number of uncontested local government elections. But in response to questions on Seven Sharp’s Facebook page, Lee promised to move to to Mackenzie and “make a proper go of it” if he wins. He will be missed by some.

PHOTO: SEVEN SHARP

Dunedin

Former Labour MP David Benson-Pope is running for council in Dunedin. Benson-Pope was famously stood down as a Cabinet minister in 2005 after facing allegations that he stuffed a tennis ball in a 14-year-old’s mouth while he was working as a teacher.

Aaron Hawkins could be New Zealand’s first Green Party mayor. Let me clarify: Former Wellington mayor Celia Wade-Brown was affiliated with the Green Party but ran as an independent. Former Dunedin mayor Sukhi Turner was a Green Party member, but also ran as an independent. Hawkins would be the first mayor to win while running on a Green Party ticket. As always, I welcome more emails from Green Party members who wish to negotiate the finer points of this statement.

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Also Michael Laws is running for Otago Regional Council.

Invercargill

Tim Shadbolt can’t stop standing for Invercargill mayor. He won’t stop standing for Invercargill mayor. His smile is irascible. His hair color is natural. Nothing is wrong! Yes, he’s being challenged by his deputy mayor. Yes, some councillors have expressed “extreme disappointment” in him. But those things are suspiciously close to negativity and it’s best to cut negativity out of your life. As Spinoff writer Josie Adams says: “I love Tim Shadbolt!”.

*The Spinoff Editorial Board would like to make it clear The Spinoff does not condone smashing the America’s Cup again, unless it’s for a good reason.

**Correction: We have been informed it is actually Sophie Handford who is running in Paekākāriki-Raumati. Handford led the School Strike 4 Climate campaign and wants council to transition to be carbon zero. The Spinoff apologises for its error.

The Spinoff local election coverage is made possible thanks to The Spinoff Members. For more about becoming a member and supporting The Spinoff’s journalism click here.



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