Nervous wait for two Coastal North candidates

14 Oct 2019, 9:22 AM

The saying ‘a day is a long time in politics’ has proved true for two former Northland Regional Councillors – one the previous council’s chair – after a reversal of Election Day fortunes.

Two seats were up for grabs in the council’s sprawling Coastal North constituency, with initial ‘progress’ results giving newcomer Marty Robinson a healthy several hundred-vote majority over previous council chair Bill Shepherd who at that point held the second available seat by 61 votes over former councillor Joce Yeoman.

However, when ‘preliminary’ votes (which include votes hand-delivered to various district council offices on Election Day and special votes requiring validation) were released last night, Cr Yeoman was back in office by the narrowest of margins – just 14 votes more than Mr Shepherd.

Councillor Robinson’s final preliminary vote tally of 6465 gives him an almost 900 vote lead over Cr Yeoman, a high enough margin that he will almost certainly be representing the constituency when a final official vote is declared on Thursday.

However, with just 14 votes between them Cr Yeoman and Mr Shepherd will be on tenterhooks until that final result is released.

Elsewhere in Northland, yesterday’s preliminary votes confirmed the results of Election Day, which collectively delivered four ‘new’ faces to the nine-member regional council.  (Two councillors Kaipara’s Penny Smart and Hokianga-Kaikohe’s Justin Blaikie had already been re-elected unopposed when nominations closed in August.)

Newcomers include Amy Macdonald, whose 2148 votes saw her take out the hotly-contested Coastal Central Constituency over five other hopefuls, including the man who had previously held the seat, Paul Dimery.  On preliminary voting, Ms Macdonald managed 524 votes more than Mr Dimery, her closest challenger.

Other councillors to lose their seats included Mike Finlayson who saw Te Hiku constituency go to former Far North District Councillor Colin ‘Toss’ Kitchen whose 3405 votes were 827 more than Mr Finlayson, his only challenger.

In the Whangarei Urban Constituency, long-time councillor John Bain retained his seat – one of two positions available – with 5673 votes, 105 more than his closest challenger Jack Craw.  However, the success of Cr Craw – a former regional council employee – came at the expense of the former council’s Deputy Chairman David Sinclair who polled 723 votes fewer than Cr Craw.

Voters in the Coastal South Constituency returned Rick Stolwerk to the position he had occupied for the past three years, his 3503 votes were 1276 more than his only opponent David Lourie.

Electoral officials say a final official vote expected to be declared late on Thursday 17 October – following the counting of special votes – will theoretically confirm the final make-up of the regional council.

A powhiri for the new council – and its inaugural meeting – will be held from 9am on Tuesday 29 October and the public is welcome to attend.

One of the first orders of business for the new council will be the swearing in of councillors, then selection of council’s new chair and their deputy.

Unlike district councils, whose mayors are chosen by the public through local elections, the regional council’s equivalent – its chair – will be voted in by the councillors themselves.

Full election results are available online via

Preliminary results as of 13 October show successful regional councillors as:

  • Coastal Central constituency (one vacancy); Amy Macdonald.
  • Coastal North constituency (two vacancies); Marty Robinson, Jocelyn Yeoman.
  • Coastal South constituency (one vacancy); Rick Stolwerk.
  • Hokianga-Kaikohe constituency (one vacancy); Justin Blaikie (elected unopposed)
  • Kaipara constituency (one vacancy); Penny Smart (elected unopposed) 
  • Te Hiku constituency (one vacancy); Colin ‘Toss’ Kitchen.
  • Whangarei Urban constituency (two vacancies); John Bain, Jack Craw