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Longtime Councillor’s Resignation Over Māori Constituencies Forces Byelection

Northland Regional Council is being forced into a byelection after longtime councillor John Bain resigned over Māori constituencies.

Former Northland Regional Council (NRC) deputy chair John Bain resigned and walked out of NRC’s October monthly council meeting during debate on Māori constituencies. He said he could not support the ‘broken democracy’ of their creation.

The roughly three-month long byelection process will see a new person elected in NRC’s Whangarei urban constituency by mid-February.

NRC chief executive Malcolm Nicolson said he could not say how much this byelection would cost.

A 2017 Whangarei District Council byelection cost $35,000 after then councillor Jayne Golightly had to resign because she was not a New Zealand citizen.

Bain presented his shock resignation letter to NRC chair Penny Smart at NRC’s October 21 meeting.

But she would not accept his resignation at the meeting, instead saying it would ‘lie on the table’ for two weeks. That would have been up roughly at the end of this week.

Bain’s letter wasn’t valid however. Under the Local Electoral Act it needed to be sent to NRC chief executive Malcolm Nicolson. He delivered an updated letter to Nicolson yesterday (SUBS: Monday November 2).

Nominations for a new councillor in the Whangarei urban constituency open on November 24 and close on December 22.

Voting opens on January 26 and closes on Wednesday February 17, results announced publicly a few days later.

The last NRC byelection was in 2015 after the death of NRC councillor Kaitaia’s Dennis Bowman.

Bain chaired the Northland regional transport committee – the region’s most heavyweight local government sector entity after individual councils themselves.

Nicolson said councillors would hold informal discussions about who would helm this committee – and others on which Bain had sat – before making a formal decision on these positions at NRC’s November council meeting.

Bain was an NRC councillor for 14 years.

Dale Ofsoske, Electoral Officer, said the byelection was a statutory process that had to follow designated timelines under the Local Electoral Act and Local Electoral Regulations.

© Scoop Media

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