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Legal action possible in Northland election

5 October 2004

Legal action possible in Northland election

Trouble is brewing in Northland local politics as Far North District Council candidate David Rankin faced a volley of hostility from council employee, Rick McCall, over the plans for Kaikohe’s Hone Heke marae.

Mr Rankin had been in negotiations with the council for a year to determine the location of the planned marae. Members of the Council and Community Board held a teleconference with him in August to finalise options for the site. Mr. Rankin was posted a map and letter which had two locations highlighted as the ones the Council favoured.

Mr. Rankin kept minutes of the meeting, and has announced that he will release these if the matter is not speedily resolved.: ‘I am very saddened by this turn of events’, he says. ‘I have received tremendous support from the business community, tourism bodies, and Maori and Pakeha alike. Moreover, the Council’s representatives not only agreed to two locations, they even marked these out on a map for me’.

‘What is even more staggering’, says Mr. Rankin, ‘is that the person who has made these allegations was not even present at the meeting where the agreement was made. Mr. Rankin suspects the current elections may be behind these events.

Mr. Rankin has also raised the issue of Council staff deliberately interfering in local body elections. ‘There is no doubt’, he says, that what has happened here in Kaikohe – with a Council employee openly criticising and potentially libeling a candidate for Council – is highly inappropriate, and may breach the relevant legislation covering these elections’.

‘I have been forced to seek legal advice on the propriety of the comments made against me,’ he says ‘and will obtain an opinion as to whether the relevant legislation governing Council elections has been breached. If it turns out that the law has been transgressed, I will pursue the Council to ensure that the appropriate action is taken to rectify the situation.

ENDS

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