4 Mar 2019

Race for the mayoralty: What you need to know

9:02 pm on 4 March 2019

With only seven months to go, several candidates have already shown an interest in running for their city's top job: mayor.

Every three years, members of local authorities are elected. This includes elections of city, district and regional councils, local boards and community boards as well as district health boards and licensing trusts.

The mayor leads council and chairs the governing body.


Putting their hand up for the significantly demanding and high-paying (see $279,562) job of mayor in Auckland are a few hopefuls.

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff.

Phil Goff Photo: RNZ / Rowan Quinn

Current Mayor of Auckland Phil Goff has said he will run again. He pledged to reject unnecessary rate rises while trying to balance that with seeking revenue for the city.

Mr Goff won the mayoralty in 2016 on the back of promises to tackle issues over housing, transport, the environment and he also pledged to restore public confidence in the management of ratepayer money.

He also pledged to continue tackling traffic congestion, completing city-rail link and building cycle and walkways, as well as making sure the infrastructure for housing is in place.

Last year, however, nine Auckland councillors signed a letter of no confidence to mayor Goff, saying he was shutting them out and creating a distrustful working environment.

John Tamihere

John Tamihere Photo: Twitter

Former Labour Cabinet minister John Tamihere said one of his top changes would be addressing the culture of regulation, and said the 'public' needed to be put back into public service.

When questioned about his comments on women, the gay community and the Roast Busters, he said it was something that came with being in the public eye.

"Here's the thing, my name is JT, not JC. I'm not totally in control of the whole shooting match all the time, I make mistakes. I've indicated I own them, what do you want me to do - jump off the Harbour Bridge?"

Auckland Mayoral candidate John Palino speaking to students at Auckland University.

John Palino Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

Former Auckland mayoral candidate John Palino was runner-up in the 2013 election - losing to Len Brown by more than 50,000 votes. And in 2016, he polled fourth with just over 21,000 votes.

Mr Palino said Auckland Council had been a disaster for the past six years.

If elected, he would abolish the regional fuel tax and end plans to build a light rail network between Auckland Airport and the city, he said.

He has not received an endorsement from the National Party but said he was supported by several National MPs. If the party's endorsement did not come, he would try to avoid the centre-right vote being split between himself and another candidate.


Christchurch mayor Lianne Dalziel

Lianne Dalziel Photo: RNZ / Conan Young

Lianne Dalziel has announced her intentions to stand for a third term as mayor of Christchurch.

If she is elected, Ms Dalziel said the issues of water and chlorination would remain her priority.

She is expecting to be challenged for the position but doesn't know yet who her opponents will be.

Grey District

Man stands outside offices under  blue sky

Tony Kokshoorn Photo: RNZ / Tracy Neal

The Grey District's long-serving mayor Tony Kokshoorn announced his retirement from from politics to spend more time with his wife and family.

Mr Kokshoorn served six years on the council before running for mayor in 2004 and defeating the sitting mayor, Kevin Brown. Since then he had been unchallenged for a further four terms.

Grey district councillor Tania Gibson is believed to be interested in the job.


Current Gisborne Mayor Meng Foon, who is in his sixth term, is expected to run again this year.

Joining the race is Rehette Stoltz, who has served as Gisborne's deputy mayor for two terms. If elected, she will become the region's first female mayor since local body elections began in 1877.

Her prime focus would be on strategic direction, she said, along with aligning council decision-making with agreed community needs and values, and creating a thriving Tairawhiti.

Matamata-Piako District

Matamata-Piako's mayor Jan Barnes had been unopposed at the 2013 and 2016 elections. It is unclear if she will run again.

However, Te Aroha councillor Ash Tanner has voiced his intention to run this year.

How to vote

Rolls for the local elections close mid-August, so voters have until then to get on the roll.

A special vote may be cast if an eligible voter is not on the roll, their roll details are wrong, if voting papers are lost or damaged or the elector can satisfy the electoral officer that it would be too difficult to cast an ordinary vote.

To cast a special vote, the electoral officer must be contacted a day before polling day at the latest.

Key dates for the 2019 local government elections

1 July: Electoral Commission enrolment campaign starts.

19 July: Nominations open for candidates. Rolls open for inspection.

16 August: Nominations close at 12 noon. Rolls close.

21 August: Election date and candidates' names announced.

20 to 25 September: Voting documents delivered to households. Electors can post the documents back to electoral officers as soon as they have voted.

12 October: Polling day. Voting documents must be at council before voting closes at 12 noon. Preliminary results will be available as soon as all ordinary votes are counted.

17 to 23 October: Official results, including all valid ordinary and special votes, declared.

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