Last-minute scramble sees every seat filled on Ruapehu, Whanganui, Rangitīkei and Horizons councils

Posted 12 August 2022 by Moana Ellis

A last-minute flood of nominations has filled every seat on Horizons Regional Council and district councils in Ruapehu, Whanganui and Rangitīkei – but not every vacancy will be contested.

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Local body elections voting papers (file image). Photo: RNZ

Nominations for some of the region’s new Māori ward and community board seats matched the number of vacancies, meaning no election will be required for those constituencies and boards.

Horizons Regional Council has declared Turuhia (Jim) Edmonds elected unopposed for its new Raki Māori seat, and Allan Benbow for the single Tararua vacancy. Its remaining 12 seats will be contested.

Horizons has two nominees for its Ruapehu constituency with one seat to fill, five for Manawatū-Rangitīkei with two seats, five for Palmerston North’s four seats, three for the two seats in Horowhenua and two for the new Tonga Māori seat.

Horizons electoral officer Craig Grant said this year’s candidates were from a variety of backgrounds, which was important for providing communities with the choice of diversity across the council.

In Whanganui, the mayoralty and 12 council seats will be contested but nominations for its three rural community board divisions will go through unopposed. There are three candidates for Mayor, 27 for 12 council vacancies, and seven for seven seats on the Whanganui Rural Community Board.

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The council said the number of nominations for council was down from 29 received in 2019 and 33 in 2016.

In Rangitīkei, four candidates will contest the mayoralty, and seats in the council’s northern, central and Taihape Community Board will be contested. No election will be required for its southern ward, two new Māori ward seats, or Rātana Community Board.

In Ruapehu, every council and community board seat will be contested, including its three new Māori ward seats and 15 community board seats.

There are four candidates for mayor, 12 for six General Ward council seats, six for three Māori Ward seats, nine for five Taumarunui-Ohura Community Board seats, seven for five Waimarino-Waiouru Community Board seats and six for five Ōwhango-National Park Community Board seats.

Ruapehu mayor Don Cameron, who is standing down after three terms, said it was fantastic to see so many people putting their hand up to help lead communities forward at such a pivotal time in local government.

He said the successful candidates will have to make decisions on a raft of challenging issues important to the future.

“The fact that we have had such a strong turnout is in large part a credit to the work of the current council and community boards and council staff, who have done an amazing job over the past term.

“These are incredibly important jobs that don’t get the recognition or reward that they deserve. It is now up to the rest of us to support everyone standing by voting.”

Voting papers will be sent out in the mail between September 16 and 21. They must be returned by midday Saturday, 8 October.

* Local Democracy Reporting is Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air