Far North mayoral candidates in neck-and-neck race to become leader

Ann Court, pictured with her husband Warren Pattinson, has big plans for the Far North if she becomes mayor after the final votes are counted. Photo / Jenny Ling

Two Far North mayoral candidates are in a nail-biting race to become the district’s new leader.

Far North deputy mayor Ann Court was initially announced as mayor on Saturday when the progress results were released, beating Moko Tepania by a narrow margin.

But with the special votes still coming in, Tepania had taken the lead as of Sunday afternoon.

The Northern Advocate understands Tepania has taken the lead by 247 votes, based on special votes counted to date.

He could not be reached for comment.

Court said: “It’s just too close to call.”

“The STV [voting system] is new to all of us, and it’s making it a very interesting learning curve.

“We’re just not going to know until they finish counting and checking.”

Other mayoral candidates – in order of voter preference – were John Vujcich of Kaikohe, Opua’s Joshua Riley and Jaqi Brown of Ahipara, along with Cr Kelly Stratford, Kevin Middleton, Clinton Dearlove and Rachel Witana.

Election Services are expected to confirm the final tally later this week.

On Sunday morning, Court said she wasn’t counting her chickens, with the gap between herself and Tepania so narrow.

But if all went well, she said she wanted to get started on the ‘reform storm’, which is Three Waters and changes to the RMA, and work to get Far North roads up to scratch.

With the special votes still coming in, Moko Tepania had taken the lead by Sunday afternoon. Photo / File
With the special votes still coming in, Moko Tepania had taken the lead by Sunday afternoon. Photo / File

“If I’m still here after the final count, I want to focus on the ‘reform storm’ which is upon us at the moment.

“We have to navigate our way through this if the Government decides it’s going to do it.

“We’ve got to be in a position to negotiate to get the best deal for the Far North.”

Court has been deputy to two previous mayors — Wayne Brown and John Carter — and is the Northland representative on the Regional Land Transport Committee.

She is also confident she can make a difference to the district’s roads during her time as mayor.

“I’m going to make a bold statement.

“If in three years’ time, our network is not better than it is today, I won’t be seeking re-election.”

Her “passion” for fixing the district’s dire roading was initially sparked after trying to get the Waipapa intersection made safer back when she was “Jo Average Citizen”.

After making a submission to the council, who were “indifferent to the point of rudeness back then”, she researched how to get funding and how to get projects “over the line”.

“The more I got into it, the more I realised Northland wasn’t getting what it needed.”

Tepania, (Ngāti Kahu Ki Whaingaroa/Te Rarawa), was voted in as a Kaikohe-Hokianga Ward councillor at the last local government election in 2019.

If successful this time round, the 31-year-old will be the youngest-ever Far North mayor since the establishment of the Far North District Council.

During his first term, he successfully campaigned for Māori wards in the Far North so iwi/hapū could be more involved in council representation.

Far North results
According to preliminary results, which will be subject to change depending on who becomes mayor, the new general ward councillors for the Far North District Council are Ann Court, Kelly Stratford and Steve McNally (Bay of Islands-Whangaroa Ward), John Vujcich (Kaikohe-Hokianga Ward), Felicity Foy and Mate Radich (Te Hiku Ward).
The first-ever Far North District councillors elected to represent a dedicated Māori ward are Moko Tepania, Hilda Halkyard-Harawira, Tāmati Rākena and Penetaui Kleskovic.
In total, 18 people put their names forward for the Far North’s Ngā Tai o Tokerau — more than any other Māori ward in the country.
Far North community board results are:
• Bay of Islands-Whangaroa Community Board
Kawakawa-Moerewa Subdivision: Roddy Pihema
Kerikeri Subdivision: Lane Ayr, Amy Slack
Paihia Subdivision: Belinda Ward
Russell-Ōpua Subdivision: Jane Hindle (elected unopposed)
Waipapa Subdivision: Tyler Bamber (elected unopposed)
Whangaroa Subdivision: Bruce Mills (elected unopposed)
• Kaikohe-Hokianga Community Board
Kaikohe Subdivision: Chicky Rudkin, Mike Edmonds, Trinity Edwards
North Hokianga Subdivision: Harmonie Gundry
South Hokianga Subdivision: Jessie McVeagh, Tanya Filia
• Te Hiku Community Board
Doubtless Bay Subdivision: Sheryl Bainbridge
Kaitāia Subdivision: Adele Gardner, Rachel Baucke, John Stewart
North Cape Subdivision: Darren Axe
Whatuwhiwhi Subdivision: William Subritzky

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