Whanganui backs first-timer as new mayor

Posted 9 October 2022 by Moana Ellis
Andrew Tripe

Local government newcomer Andrew Tripe is Whanganui’s new mayor. Photo: RNZ / Robin Martin

Local government newcomer Andrew Tripe has ousted two-term mayor Hamish McDouall and will lead a Whanganui council that has gender equality, according to progress results.

With 90% of votes counted, progress results published less than two hours after voting closed showed management consultant Tripe ahead by nearly 2000 votes with 6901 votes. McDouall’s count was 4981.

The third mayoralty contender, DC Harding, was trailing with 545 votes.

Tripe told Local Democracy Reporting some good groundwork had been laid by Whanganui District Council and the city was poised for the next stage of growth.

“I’m humbled by the support I’ve had. There’s clearly been a mood for change. Whanganui is poised for the next stage of maturity and growth, and I’m excited to take our district forward with clarity and purpose, and a really good team behind me.

“There’s a fairly long list of things I need to start both thinking about and acting on before the first council meeting in a couple of weeks. There’s a fair bit of preparation to get to that point, and to close out my previous jobs and work I’ve been involved in.”

Tripe said his campaign had been a massive undertaking.

“It’s been hard work – 12- to 15-hour days virtually every day to get this result.

“The first thing is to take some time to enjoy and share in the moment, to congratulate those that are also sitting around the table, pending some results, and to acknowledge respect for Hamish and DC Harding.

“I’m conscious that there’ll be some disappointed people. Anyone that stepped up to run to serve our district needs to be congratulated.”

Whanganui mayor Hamish McDouall

Hamish McDouall. Photo: RNZ / Robin Martin

McDouall said he called Tripe at 1pm to acknowledge the result.

The 1990 Mastermind champ was elected to Whanganui District Council in 2010, served the following term as deputy mayor, won the mayoralty in 2016, and was re-elected unopposed in 2019.

He said he was surprised by Saturday’s result but did not read it as a mandate for change.

“It’s not necessarily a referendum on my performance – even my opponent said I’ve been a good mayor and got a lot done. Democracy is like that: you always know the guillotine could be around the corner at any stage.

“It has been an asymmetrical campaign – being an incumbent has its advantages, but it has its disadvantages as well. You campaign on the hard, pragmatic reality of things, rather than a wish list that could founder on the rocks of reality.”

McDouall said the new mayor has a good council to work with.

“It’s not racially diverse, but the gender equality is great. With a strong council, I think the vector we’re on will continue.”

The voter return was 42.26% (14,206 votes). The progress result does not include some special votes or votes that are still in transit to the processing centre.

The final declared result, including all special votes, is expected to be available on Wednesday.

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