28 Jun 2022

Wellington mayoral candidate refuses to remove billboards, despite being ordered to

8:25 pm on 28 June 2022

Wellington mayoral candidate and Labour MP Paul Eagle has been asked to remove digital billboards until the formal election hoarding period starts in two months.

Paul Eagle Mayoral Campaign Billboard

Paul Eagle Mayoral Campaign Billboard Photo: RNZ / Samuel Rillstone

But Eagle says he will be keeping them up for a few more days yet.

The large digital billboards telling people to 'vote Eagle' appeared around the city yesterday, the same day he announced his tilt at the mayoralty.

A Wellington City Council spokesperson said officials investigated the signage after receiving "10 or 20 complaints on social media" about the electronic billboards.

The spokesperson said its legal team would look at various legislation that might apply, including the Electoral Act and the Resource Management Act.

Now, the council's Electoral Officer Warwick Lampp has asked Eagle to remove the signs until the formal election hoarding period starts in two months.

Lampp said there was a long standing policy that meant candidates could only put up advertising signs for six weeks prior to any election - this year the signs are permitted between 27 August and 7 October, which is the day before the election.

"The policy is designed to create a level playing field for candidates and has been generally respected for many years," a council statement said.

But Eagle would not remove them immediately.

Local councillor Paul Eagle says the community has gentrified and may not understand the marae philosophy.

File photo: Wellington mayoral candidate and Labour MP Paul Eagle Photo: RNZ/Daniela Maoate-Cox

Eagle did not respond to RNZ's request for an interview but in a statement said he received his own legal advice and believed the billboards were lawful.

"I have not received any information that contradicts the opinion I have received, nor supports the proposition that Wellington City Council's appointed Electoral Officer has the right to require any people challenging for the mayoralty not to do what I, and others, have done," Eagle's statement read.

Eagle said he had always planned to take the billboards down this weekend, after running them the week of his mayoral announcement.

"I'll be sticking with my original plan, which was to take the billboards down this weekend," he said.

Eagle has faced criticism over a survey of people in his electorate in his capacity as a local MP asking what local issues he should make a priority.

Yesterday, Eagle told RNZ "no Parliamentary resources will be used for this campaign".

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