Was there an election?

With only three exceptions (one rather notable), across the councils a smaller turnout of HB voters simply rubber-stamped the incumbents.

Here are the preliminary results, with official results not certified until 13 October. However, none of these races are close enough that the results reported here are likely to be overturned.

In the only strategically important contest, the HB Regional Council saw Will Foley and Jerf van Beek returned unopposed, and incumbents Neil Kirton, Martin Williams and Hinewai Ormsby re-elected. Only Craig Foss failed to ride the incumbent re-election wave … not ‘The Right Balance’ after all. He was beaten out by newbies Jock Macintosh, Sophie Siers and Xan Harding.

Other new faces on HBRC are Di Roadley from the Wairoa constituency and Thompson Hokianga (unopposed) and Charles Lambert from the two new Māori constituencies. So HBRC will have 6 new faces, a majority of the 11 councillors.

Now, much more interesting than the rest of today’s results, will be who is elected by their peers to become Chair of the Regional Council.

In Central Hawke’s Bay the exact same team of Mayor Alex Walker and 8 councillors will serve for another term. Said Mayor Walker: “This is a hardworking team that has brought diverse skills and experience to the Council table. Their collaborative decision-making and commitment to putting the community first meant we were able to successfully deliver a broad and challenging programme of work during the last triennium…”

The CHB voter return stands at 39.6% compared to 54.6% in 2019.

In Napier, Mayor Kirsten Wise was re-elected by nearly 2000 votes, but still needs to absorb the ‘protest’ represented by main challenger Nigel Simpson’s 6,499 voters. All incumbent councillors seeking re-election won their seats again. With two seats open, those were won by newbies Juliet Grieg (Nelson Park ward) and Chad Tareha (Taradale ward). A BAU result.

The Napier voter return was 37.7% compared to 50% in 2019.

In Hastings, Mayor Sandra Hazlehurst was unopposed, as were Councillors Tania Kerr, Alwyn Corban and Ann Redstone. All other incumbents who stood were re-elected. New faces include Michael Fowler (Hastings-Havelock), Henry Heke (Flaxmere), Marcus Buddo (Kahuranaki) and Ana Apatu, Kellie Jessup and Renata Nepe (from the new Takitimu Māori Ward). All in, 6 new faces out of 15 councillors. Another BAU result.

The Hastings voter return was 31.3% compared to 43.6% in 2019.

In Wairoa, Mayor Craig Little handily won re-election, rejoining the region’s other three returning mayors. All of WDC’s six councillors stood for re-election, with four winning. The two newbies will be Benita Cairns and Roz Thomas.

Adding it all up, leaving aside newly-created Māori wards/constituencies for HDC and HBRC, across the region only 11 new faces were elected and 8 of those in cases where incumbents chose not to re-stand.

Explanation? You pick …

General voter apathy.

General voter satisfaction with status quo.

Lack of high profile, exciting challengers.

Huge built-in incumbent advantage – only three who stood lost.


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