Wellington mayoralty race: Tory Whanau breaches election advertising rules

3:04 pm on 3 August 2022

Another Wellington mayoral candidate has put election posters up earlier than is allowed and will not be taking them down, despite criticising a fellow candidate over early election advertising.

Tory Whanau campaign poster

Candidate Tory Whanau says the posters had gone up in error this week but she won't be taking them down. Photo: RNZ / Samuel Rillstone

The first was Wellington mayoral candidate and Labour MP Paul Eagle, who got into hot water over election advertising in June and refused to remove electronic billboards which he claimed were lawful.

Now, candidate Tory Whanau has posters up nearly a month before they allowed, between 27 August and 7 October.

But they had gone up in error this week and were meant to be installed on 28 August, Whanau said. Fifteen are set to be up by the end of the week.

"It was just an oversight. These things happen," she said, without saying whose oversight it was.

"I'm not the sort of person to play the blame game.

"This is my responsibility and I have made the call to keep them up."

Whanau admitted she criticised Eagle over his election advertising. At the time, she also told RNZ a survey which Eagle sent to residents in his Rongotai electorate was "concerning".

Despite that, Whanau was not taking her posters down.

"I kind of had to have a bit of a reality check. We are at that part of the campaign where I am up against two people that have very public profiles so I made the call that I'm going to lean in, I'm going to level the playing field," she said.

She notified Wellington City Council of the installation of the posters, and the council confirmed the move breached its election hoardings rules.

Council spokesperson Richard MacLean said other than speaking to Whanau, there was not more the council could do as its own rules were not actually enforceable.

That is an issue the council was looking to address.

"What we are going to have to do is look at whether we can make some changes under the district plan to see if we can introduce some rules that are enforceable," MacLean said.

Social media users were urging the council to pay the same level of attention to Whanau's breach as it did in its response to Eagle's digital billboard, MacLean said.

Wellington Mayor Andy Foster is also running for the city's mayoralty.

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