Whakatāne Council acknowledges 'profound hurt', calls for hui with Mahuta

By Regan Paranihi
Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta and Hinerangi Goodman.  Photo/File

Whakatāne District Council wants to meet with Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta to discuss flaws in the local electoral legislation. This comes after veteran Māori journalist Hinerangi Goodman was declared the winner of last month’s Galatea-Murupara Ward election and sworn into council, only to later be declared unsuccessful after a recount. 

In a recent interview, Goodman told Te Ao her mana Māori had been trampled on by the flawed process.

“This is a big insult to the people who voted for me and my own people who came down and took part in the pōwhiri at council,” she said.

In a media statement today, Whakatāne District Mayor Judy Turner acknowledged "the profound hurt caused to both candidates, their supporters and whānau through the election process."

Mayor Turner says changes are needed to legislation that determines when results are declared, inaugural council meetings are held and how close contests such as this are managed.

The council has sent a letter to Minister Mahuta outlining its concerns and requesting a face-to-face meeting with the minister and her advisers. 

Mayor Turner says it is particularly concerning to council that legislation guiding elections does not adequately address Te Ao Māori requirements.

“We believe there are some adjustments that can be made that better reflect the way modern councils, iwi groups and communities work together and we’re confident of a positive outcome from this," Mayor Turner says.

Goodman originally tied the election with fellow candidate Alison Silcock, after both received 262 votes each. After her name was drawn out of a box, Goodman was declared the winner but Silcock won by one vote on recount. Silcock has now been appointed councillor for the Galatea-Murupara Ward.