9 Oct 2022

Local body elections: Changing of the guard across country

4:04 pm on 9 October 2022
Some of the mayors who have won the top job in their towns and cities around New Zealand today.

Some of the mayors who have won the top job in their towns and cities around New Zealand today. Photo: RNZ

Most of the major cities in New Zealand will have new mayors after today's local body elections.

Change is seen across the map - Auckland, Christchurch, Dunedin, Wellington, Rotorua, Whanganui, Nelson and Invercargill have all elected new mayors, among others.

In Auckland, Christchurch and Dunedin, cities have new mayors who will likely sit politically further to the right on the political spectrum than their predecessors.

Wellington was the outlier, electing former Green Party staffer Tory Whanau as mayor.

Dunedin Mayor Aaron Hawkins lost to rival Jules Radich, and said he is devastated he won't be at the helm during the next triennium.

Hawkins said there is a clear appetite for change in results seen across the country today.

"It would appear that we're seeing around the country we're experiencing a push against the establishment, whatever that looks like, and we are not immune to that. "

Local Government NZ president Stuart Crosby said the Labour government had a programme of significant reform which voters could be reacting to.

"That is quite upsetting to a large number of people. That's not to be unexpected there is that shift in political thinking."

"And it does lay a platform for the general election coming through this time next year as well."

Many familiar faces in local government took their last bow - whether through retirement like Auckland Mayor Phil Goff, or losing re-election.

Sir Tim Shadbolt.

Sir Tim Shadbolt. Photo: RNZ / Tess Brunton

Outgoing Invercargill mayor Sir Tim Shadbolt, who had been serving for 24 years, said he was shattered not to have a seat in the council chambers after losing to Deputy Mayor Nobby Clark.

"Absolutely shattered, I couldn't believe it. I planned to have a celebration for getting on council, but I never saw it coming when it came to not getting any seat anywhere."

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern congratulated the winners in a statement.

"We won't always agree, but I absolutely believe we all get into politics with very similar motivations - to do the best by our communities.

"I'm also keen to work with local government on how we make voting more accessible. Greater participation in elections is good for democracy so we need to work to increase turnout."

Many votes are still being counted, but Local Government New Zealand said it expects the number of votes cast to close to 2019's local body election - which hit just over 40 percent.

That sits at about half the votes cast in the 2020 general election.

People RNZ spoke to across the country said it is time for a change to the way we vote in local body elections.

"The current system's so antiquated and outdated, I'm surprised we got as many votes as we did through this system," one man said.

"I can't see why it can't go online, so much more efficient," another said.

However, not everyone agreed.

"I prefer them in postal," one woman said. "Online, especially as you get older, it all gets a bit complicated for a lot of people."

LGNZ chief executive Susan Freeman-Greene said the system needs to be put under a microscope.

A review should look at "the [communications], the engagement, the delivery, the way we run elections, and that review should be done in relatively short order," she said.

Freeman-Greene said the review should inform local government and electoral law reviews that are currently under way.

In four of the major centres across the motu, new mayors are ready to put in the mahi.

Auckland Mayor-elect Wayne Brown with his wife Toni at their campaign event in Ponsonby today.

Auckland Mayor-elect Wayne Brown with his wife Toni at their campaign event in Ponsonby today. Photo: RNZ / Lucy Xia

Auckland elects Wayne Brown

Wayne Brown said he is privileged and humbled to be the city's new mayor after beating Efeso Collins. In progress results, Brown was at 144,619 votes ahead of Collins by 54,808 votes. The progress results reflect about 90 percent of the votes.

"At more than 300 campaign events over the last six months, Aucklanders have made clear to me and fellow candidate Efeso Collins that you love our city, but that you know much of it is broken," Brown said in a statement.

Brown said he wants to tackle rising costs and council waste.

"During this thing I have had various people on the council tell me that debt is $11 billion, and others who say it's $16 billion. Neither of those are good figures, but we need to know what that is.

"The next thing I'm going to do is meet all the councillors one on one and discuss how we're going to get on doing what I have a mandate to do."

Tory Whanau

Tory Whanau Photo: Facebook/Tory Whanau

Wellington elects Tory Whanau

A rare highlight for progressives today was Wellington's Tory Whanau beating Andy Foster who was running for a second term as mayor.

"It was just such an amazing moment - but now the nerves have calmed it actually feels right - I've been working really hard on this campaign, and brought a lot of people on board - for a year," she said.

"So it is the exact right outcome, I feel."

Whanau said she planned to focus on uniting the council.

New Dunedin mayor Jules Radich.

New Dunedin mayor Jules Radich. Photo: Supplied

Dunedin elects Jules Radich

Incoming Dunedin mayor Jules Radich says he wants to be an inclusive leader for the whole city after he unseated first-term mayor Aaron Hawkins in a landslide in the southern city.

Radich said his landslide victory and other results in the southern city showed there was a desire for a change to the city's direction.

"I mean this is quite a reaction to what's been happening in Dunedin over the last three years and in line with democratic principles there needs to be change," Radich said.

Phil and Chrissy Mauger celebrating the preliminary Christchurch City Mayoralty results at their Avonhead home.

Phil and Chrissy Mauger celebrating the preliminary Christchurch City Mayoralty results at their Avonhead home. Photo: RNZ / Niva Chittock

Christchurch elects Phil Mauger

Phil Mauger has won the Christchurch mayoral race and is on track to be joined by seven new councillors and nine returning councillors.

Mauger said he was pleased his messages of regaining people's trust in council and getting things done had resonated with voters.

"I have consistently said during the campaign that I do not believe there is any place for party politics around the council table. I promise to be a mayor who listens to all ideas and works with people to get the best outcomes for our city,'' Mauger said in a statement.

For an exhaustive look at how events unfolded throughout the day, check out our live blog.

2022 local body election results

This is a partial list of mayoral winners according to process results, which are not final results. The most recent complete results can be found on local council websites.

Ashburton District - Neil Brown

Auckland Council - Wayne Brown

Buller Council - Jamie Cleine

Carterton Council - Ron Mark

Chatham Islands - Monique Croon 

Christchurch - Phil Mauger

Dunedin - Jules Radich

Far North - Moko Tepania

Gisborne - Rehette Stoltz

Gore District - Ben Bell

Grey District - Tania Gibson

Hamilton - Paula Southgate

Horowhenua District - Bernie Wanden

Invercargill - Nobby Clark

Kaikōura District Council - Craig Mackle

Kāpiti Coast - Janet Holborow

Lower Hutt - Campbell Barry

Mackenzie District Council - Anne Munro

Manawatū District - Helen Worboys

Marlborough - Nadine Taylor

Masterton - Gary Caffell

Matamata-Piako - Adrienne Wilcock 

Napier - Kirsten Wise

Nelson - Nick Smith

New Plymouth - Neil Holdom

Ōtorohonga - Max Baxter

Palmerston North - Grant Smith

Porirua - Anita Baker

Queenstown - Glyn Lewers

Rangitikei District - Andy Watson

Rotorua - Tania Tapsell

Ruapehu District - Weston Kirton

Selywn - Sam Broughton

Southland District Council - Rob Scott

South Taranaki - Phil Nixon

South Waikato - Gary Petley

South Wairarapa - Martin Connelly

Stratford - Neil Volzke

Tararua District - Tracy Collis

Taupō District - David Trewavas

Thames-Coromandel - Len Salt

Timaru - Nigel Bowen

Upper Hutt - Wayne Guppyr

Waimakariri District Council - Dan Gordon

Waimate - Craig Rowley

Waipā - Susan O'Regan

Wairoa - Craig Little

Waitaki - Gary Kirche

Waitomo District - John Robertson

Wellington - Tory Whanau

Western Bay of Plenty - James Denyer

Whakatāne District Council - Victor Luca

Whanganui - Andrew Tripe

Whangārei - Vince Cocurullo


Returning unopposed as mayor:

Central Hawke's Bay District - Alex Walker

Central Otago District - Tim Cadogan

Hastings District - Sandra Hazlehurst

Hauraki District - Toby Adams

Hurunui District - Marie Black