Kaikōura shows the way with huge voter engagement

1:17 pm on 13 October 2022

By David Hill, Local Democracy Reporter

Will Doughty.

Kaikōura District Council chief executive Will Doughty says there was a good field of candidates and some healthy competition. Photo: David Hill / North Canterbury News via LDR

Kaikōura has bucked the national trend with a 62 percent voter turnout for the local body elections.

Voter returns in Waimakariri and Hurunui also exceeded expectations with 44.39 percent and 43.38 percent respectively.

The results overshot the national average of 40 percent, with special votes still to be counted.

It was also the highest return for Kaikōura in recent elections, beating 61.37 percent in 2019.

Chief executive Will Doughty said there was a good field of candidates and some healthy competition.

''I think a lot of it comes down to getting communications out and reaching people by all means possible," Doughty said.

''It is a testament that people are engaged with what people are doing around council, and want to have a say.''

There were questions around how to engage people in local government, and how to attract more diversity and different demographics, he said.

Electronic voting should be considered for future elections, he said.

Engaging younger people was an issue, even in Kaikōura.

''I don't think it is an easy thing. We had a few people who were interested, but said it would not be possible [to stand] because of their work commitments," Doughty said.

''The requirements have grown significantly in recent years, particularly in Kaikōura post-quake, so it is not something you can just dabble in.''

Craig Mackle was returned as Kaikōura mayor with more than two-thirds of the vote.

There will be two changes around the council table, with former mayor Kevin Heays and former deputy mayor John Diver winning seats.

Deputy mayor Julie Howden and fellow sitting councillors Vicki Gulleford, Tony Blunt, Robby Roche and Lisa Bond were re-elected.

In Waimakariri, Dan Gordon won a second mayoral term after receiving 87 percent of votes cast.

The voter turnout of 44.39 percent was just 2 percent down on the 2019 election, when there were nine mayoral candidates.

It was higher than the 2016 and 2013 elections.

''We would always like to see a higher turnout, because local democracy is important, but 44 percent is a good result,'' Gordon said.

''Anything that can be done to encourage higher turnouts should be looked at.''

He suggested giving voters a choice of postal and electronic voting.

Gordon will welcome three new councillors, Tim Fulton, Jason Goldsworthy and Brent Cairns.

Deputy mayor Neville Atkinson and fellow sitting councillors Niki Mealings, Robbie Brine, Paul Williams, Joan Ward, Al Blackie and Philip Redmond have been re-elected.

Voter turnout in the Hurunui district was well down on the 57.18 percent in 2019, when there was a mayoral contest.

But the return of 43.38 percent was higher than the 2016 and 2013 elections.

Mayor Marie Black, who was elected unopposed, will be joined by new councillors Vanessa McPherson, Tom Davies and David Hislop.

Former mayor Gary Jackson also won a seat and will be joined by returning councillors Robbie Bruerton, Pauline White, Karen Armstrong, Ross Barnes, Fiona Harris and deputy mayor Vincent Daly.

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