Local body elections 2022: where it will heat up

8:07 pm on 5 April 2022

It's local elections year, and politicians up and down the country are hoping to be re-elected or pick up a seat for the first time on local bodies.

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Mayoralty chains throughout the country will be up for grabs in local body elections later this year. Photo: RNZ / Todd Niall

Auckland's mayoralty is up for grabs this year, with Phil Goff bowing out to head to the UK.

University of Auckland political scientist Dr Lara Greaves said Auckland was easily one of the most interesting races.

"I think a lot of people will be looking at the rest of Auckland, giving that the incumbent mayor Phil Goff is moving along and we've seen Efeso Collins be very vocal about wanting to be mayor," she said.

Collins is not the only candidate running. Among those vying for the super city's mayoral chains are Heart of the City boss Viv Beck, former Far North mayor Wayne Brown and hospitality businessman Leo Molloy.

Greaves thought the race could cause ripples on the right.

"I think that we've seen candidates in the Auckland race that are potentially in that more disgruntled right-wing side of things. I think the effect of that likely to be a splitting of the right vote."

RNZ spoke to two dozen Aucklanders. Most were struggling to engage in the elections just yet.

"The candidates seem pretty anonymous. I actually saw someone in a vote Malloy t-shirt earlier on today, but that's about as much as I've seen," one man said.

Greaves said Auckland was not the only one to watch, with a race in Wellington also set to be interesting.

In the capital one candidate is officially running for mayor so far: Former Green Party chief of staff Tory Whanau.

Labour MP for Rongotai Paul Eagle has told RNZ he was considering a mayoral bid, while current mayor Andy Foster has yet to make an announcement.

"Andy Foster has faced people kind of accusing him of various things. For example, he recently met with the protesters and around Parliament. The councillors on the council have kind of not been particularly happy with some of his actions," Greaves said.

People in Wellington RNZ spoke to were not keen on the idea of Andy Foster running for mayor again.

"It doesn't appear that he's done much and so he seems to be disintegrating before our eyes. But I don't know if you can pinpoint that on one person. Do I think he should run again? Possibly not."

Another man told RNZ he thought Foster had promised a lot but not delivered.

Greaves said Invercargill was worth keeping an eye on too.

Southland District mayor Gary Tong is challenging long-standing mayor Tim Shadbolt.

"Tim Shadbolt has been mayor since 1998. He's also faced a few minor-level scandals and councillors speaking out about him. He's had a few public health issues that he's been quite vocal about," Greaves said.

In Tauranga, there will not be an election this year.

The council was sacked a few years ago and commissioners were brought in and the local government minister is leaving them there for now.

Christchurch will also get a new mayor with former cabinet minister Lianne Dalziel hanging up the chains this year.

Voting across the country takes place in early October.

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