Residents attend wrong meetings

By Mike Dinsdale

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Mr Smith went to the official vote.co.nz website, put his address in and it said he was still in the Hikurangi/Coastal Ward. Photo / Glenn Taylor
Mr Smith went to the official vote.co.nz website, put his address in and it said he was still in the Hikurangi/Coastal Ward. Photo / Glenn Taylor

An unanswered email to council staff about boundary changes for Whangarei District Council elections saw a group of Kamo voters get the wrong information about what ward they were in - and then waste hours attending candidate meetings for people they could not vote for.

Kamo man Grant Smith says the stuff up started several weeks ago when he and some of his neighbours off Three Mile Bush Rd realised that the ward they were in may have changed following a boundary review by the WDC.

So Mr Smith went to the official vote.co.nz website, put his address in and it said he was still in the Hikurangi/Coastal Ward. He and five or six neighbours then attended three meet the candidate events for Hikurangi/Coastal Ward candidates so they could make an informed decision.

"We went along to get a handle on who to vote for and felt we did a good job of getting informed on what the candidates were about.

"But when I got my voting papers on Monday they said I was now in Mangakahia/Maungatapere Ward and couldn't vote for a councillor anyway as our person (Sharon Morgan) had been elected unopposed," Mr Smith said.

"It feels like a complete waste of time going to those meetings to listen to people we could not even vote for. It beggers belief that the wrong information was on an official website and I would have thought it would be fairly simple to get the right information on there." Local Government On Line (LGOL) runs the vote.co.nz website and immediately corrected the information once the Northern Advocate raised it with the body.

Chief executive Cassandra Crowley apologised for the mix up and said the incorrect information was obtained from the WDC website after LGOL had requested it from the council.

WDC spokeswoman Ann Midson also apologised for the mistake, which came about due to human error in not replying to an email from LGOL.

Ms Midson said LGOL sent an email requesting the information as part of a mass email to a number of council staff around the country that was usually used for giving information only and not requests for information.

Several WDC staff got the email but she said none realised it was a request for information and did not open it.

- NORTHERN ADVOCATE

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