< September 2022 newsletter

Local body elections – backing democratic governance and political equality

Candidate nominations for this year's local body elections have closed, and campaigning for a place at the council table is well underway. Now is the time to ask the contenders the crucial questions – before casting our votes we need to know their intentions and their stance on issues of concern. 

Democracy Action recommends supporting candidates who will stand firm in their commitment to core democratic principles and political equality. Please contact your candidates to find out if they are opposed to co-governance arrangements and/or the introduction of race-based wards. If they are opposed to such policies, offer your support. You may be able to volunteer your time and/or donate towards their election campaign.

Most councils have published a list of candidates on their websites. The Auckland City Council list is available HERE.

Or see the Spin Off’s 'Policy.NZ Guide to the NZ local elections 2022' to find out who’s running in your area and what they stand for.

If you are enrolled on the parliamentary electoral roll, you can expect to get your voting papers sometime between 16 and 21 September 2022. Voting will be open from Friday 16 September and closes at noon on Saturday 8 October 2022.

Here in Auckland, of the three highest polling mayoral candidates only Viv Beck is firmly opposed to co-governance. Efeso Collins, a Labour endorsed ‘independent’, is strongly in favour of the Three Waters reforms, and co-governance as well. And while Wayne Brown is opposed to the Three Waters arrangements, he does believe co-governance has its place in Treaty of Waitangi settlements.

Another issue to be aware of is political party affiliations in local body politics. A commentary by Historic Places Wellington chairwoman Felicity Wong - Voters beware – exposes just how much influence political parties can have over ‘their’ councillors. Chris Milne - a lawyer, businessman and Hutt City Councillor - writes in his recent commentary A Tale of Two Cities published on Breaking Views:

 “It will surprise most people to learn that the Labour Party requires that candidates using the Labour logo sign a pledge to support and implement Labour policy irrespective of the views of local residents. Further, all Labour candidates pledge to block vote on issues of Labour policy”.

Labour is supporting candidates all around the country. While it’s not known how many are being supported informally, the Party website lists those that are being formally endorsed - click here to see a list Labour candidates and here for Labour affiliated and endorsed candidates.


New Zealand Labour Party Incorporated Constitution and Rules 2019

Rule 8.53.1 Any person accepting nomination as a Party candidate contesting a Local Body election must individually sign the pledge to abide by the Party Rules and Principles.

Rule 1.3.1 (a) confirms that Labour’s primary objective in supporting candidates is to ensure their policies are enacted: “to elect competent men and women to… local bodies through free elections for the purpose of giving effect to Party policy and principles.”

Rule 12.4.1 (f) If elected, I will vote on all questions in accordance with the decisions of the Caucus of the Parliamentary Labour Caucus or, in the case of Local Body questions, a duly constituted meeting of Party representatives on such body…



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The integrity of our electoral system is critical to upholding our democratic system. However, the 2022 election exposed serious issues about the way we conduct local body elections. Continue reading

Proposed changes to our electoral system

The Ministry of Justice is currently reviewing our electoral law. The government-appointed Independent Electoral Review panel is inviting feedback on the future of our electoral system. Continue reading

Urgent judicial review of discriminatory Rotorua Council Bill

“It is premature to declare victory over the Rotorua District Council (Representation Arrangements) Bill”, writes Rotorua Councillor Reynold Macpherson.  “It has not been withdrawn, only ‘paused’. If you want to defend democracy against co-governance, please submit an Affidavit in Support of a private citizen’s application for a judicial review”. Continue reading

Locals campaign to restore democracy at Tauranga City Council

The Government has decided to extend the stay of Tauranga City Council’s commissioners for a further two-and-a-half years. The dissolution of the elected council in February 2021 was always meant to be a temporary emergency measure with full local democracy restored in 2022. However, the Wellington-appointed commissioners asked the Government to delay local elections for at least another year, which the Minister of Local Government, Nanaia Mahuta, obligingly extended until July 2024. Continue reading

Rotorua Lakes Council pushing for Māori co-governance

The Rotorua Lakes Council no longer believes in one person one vote, each of equal value. Instead, it believes that if you are not Māori, your vote should be worth less. The Council is currently pursuing a law change to enable an undemocratic representation model to be implemented. The model it prefers would consist of three Māori ward seats, three general ward seats, and four at-large seats. However, adopting this arrangement would give the 19,791 citizens on the Māori roll 2.6 times the voting power of the 51,618 citizens on the general roll. Continue reading

Further Councils Considering Establishing Māori Wards

Councils: Waipa, Hawke’s Bay, Horizons, Horowhenua, Hamilton As mentioned in last month’s newsletter, the new Local Electoral (Māori Wards and Māori Constituencies) Amendment Act 2021 extended the deadline for councils to consider Māori wards for the 2022 triennial local government elections to 21 May 2021. This has brought forward a flurry of proposals and votes.  Continue reading

Time to Vote - Local Body Elections 2019

Voting in local body elections is under way, with the poll closing noon 12 October. With the push for co-governance and partnership arrangements gathering speed, there’s a lot riding on our choices this election. The next three years will make a huge difference to our future. Continue reading

Local Body Elections 2019

The Democracy Action working group is preparing a set of questions to ask candidates. Please take the opportunity to call radio shows with guest candidates, and attend public meetings, to ask a question or two. Continue reading