Kaipara Mayor, Jason Smith

Kaipara ‘vote for stability’

by Paul Campbell

With a voting turnout of just above 42 per cent, Kaipara has elected a provisional district council, as with special votes still to be counted, positions could change to the preliminary result released following the local body elections last Saturday.

Two Dargaville Ward candidates are separated by as little as two votes, and final results will be announced on Thursday, October 17, followed by an official declaration on Monday, October 21.

However incumbent mayor Jason Smith was re-elected for his second term with a huge 5,950 votes — 94.7 per cent of those cast for the post. Dr Smith has served a partial term following his by-election in 2018. Other preliminary results were:

Councillors are: Eryn Wilson-Collins, Brian McEwing (Dargaville Ward), Anna Curnow, Mark Vincent (Otamatea Ward), David Wills, Victoria Del La Varis-Woodcock (West Coast-Central Ward), Jonathan Larsen and Peter Wethey (Kaiwaka-Mangawhai Ward).

Dr Smith said “the people of the Kaipara and the north have spoken and democracy has prevailed.” He said his own re-election was “a very clear mandate from the community for stability” and those of the mayors of the Far North and Whangarei was a vote for “stability and progress.”

Provided that special votes result in the status quo, Dr Smith will now lead a council that has four new members including the youngest councillor in first-time candidate Eryn Wilson-Collins, who is 37, and won a Dargaville ward seat. He says the four new members were “long-time locals with a deep understanding of the district, its history, make-up and future needs.

We have a lot to do in Kaipara, and there will be no time for sitting on the fence.”

Dr Smith’s mandate eclipsed his opponent for the council leadership, activist and writer Moemoea Mohoawhenua, who sought Maori language adoption and adherence to Waitangi Treaty issues in council’s consultation with the community.

Another new councillor is David Wills, West Coast/Central ward, along with Mark Vincent in the Otamatea ward who has a background as a former council manager and conservationist and Kauri Museum board member.

Kaipara’s special votes are now being assessed under the Single Transferable Vote system, and the district is the only one to use the process whereby voters select their candidate of choice by numbers, one and onwards. Thus if a voter’s first choice has insufficient support overall, the second choice has relevance.

This election was also the first time that four wards have been represented after a fourth Kaiwaka-Mangawhai ward was creating to cope with Kaipara’s population growth. The candidates there, Peter Wethey and Jonathon Larsen were elected unopposed in the poll. The new Kaipara District Council will gather at the Dargaville Town Hall at 10am on Friday, October 25, with the public invited and Mayor Smith is expecting to outline his vision for Kaipara during the new council term.

Elsewhere in these elections, Kaipara’s Penny Smart is to serve another term on the Northland Regional Council after being unopposed when nominations closed in August.

For full preliminary details of the Kaipara vote go to the KDC webpage.