Bryce Edwards is a lecturer in Politics at the University of Otago.

Political Roundup: 20 unconventional local election candidates

Elections benefit from colourful, quirky, and dissident candidates – even distasteful ones. So who are New Zealand local government’s current crop of outsiders?
Be aware that some have criminal convictions, others have very eccentric ideas, but for what it's worth they all have something quite different to offer the competition. Photo / Getty Images
Be aware that some have criminal convictions, others have very eccentric ideas, but for what it's worth they all have something quite different to offer the competition. Photo / Getty Images

Nearly anyone can run for office in New Zealand's local government elections. And that's a good thing. It means that we potentially get to make a choice from the whole spectrum of humanity, including the mavericks, extremists, and outsiders. It also means we get some distasteful candidates standing. That's democracy. And some of these unorthodox candidates bring up new ideas and different perspectives to the same platitudes and middle-of-the-road policies we hear from most candidates. So below is a list of 20 unconventional candidates. Be aware that some have criminal convictions, others have very eccentric ideas, but for what it's worth they all have something quite different to offer the competition.

1) Angela Gill (Whangarei District Council)

Electoral authorities are telling voters not to vote for this immigrant to New Zealand, who appears on the ballot papers but is not entitled to.

It seems that Gill has been accepted for New Zealand citizenship, but because she hasn't gone to the public citizenship ceremony yet she can't stand for office - see Alexandra Newlove's Election officials: Don't vote for her.

2) Penny Bright (Auckland Mayoralty)

Bright is even directly appealing for the protest vote: "I believe I have an excellent chance of capturing that Brexit feeling, that was never supposed to happen". According to Damien Christie, Bright is battling against "Corruption, a lack of transparency, billions wasted on consultants" - see his profile of some of the marginal Auckland mayoralty candidates: When I become Auckland mayor ... yeah right. See also, RNZ's Penny Bright launches Auckland mayoralty bid and River Lin's Her Warship abides: a day with the unsinkable would-be mayor, Penny Bright.

3) John Palino (Auckland Mayoralty)

He came second to Len Brown in 2013 in a fraught campaign, but seems destined to lose badly this time around. Palino has plenty of interesting policies - such as building a satellite city in south Auckland - and is thought by some to be channeling a certain US presidential candidate - see Bevan Rapson's Has Palino got the Trump touch? One opponent of Palino is a former confidant - see Bevan Chuang's No place for Trump-ism in New Zealand.

4) David Hay (Auckland Mayoralty)

Hay explains how he's pulled out of the mayoral race, and although he doesn't want people to vote for him, he's still on the ballot paper: "You cannot withdraw from the mayoral race unless you go mad or die. I am not dead, but I might be mad" - see Dan Satherley's must-read account of the environmental activists' central role in a rather strange brawl at a mayoral forum this week: Auckland's mayoral also-rans bicker and squabble.

5) Mark Thomas (Auckland mayoralty)

It's unclear whether he wants you to vote for him, having performed "a weird half-withdrawal" from the contest - see Toby Manhire's Mark Thomas, the most tragic man in NZ politics, just became more tragic.

6) Bill Ralston (Auckland City Council)

He might be an anti-establishment maverick, but be careful before giving Ralston your protest vote - he might well win in his contest against incumbent leftwing veteran Mike Lee. In fact, according to Metro's Simon Wilson, Ralston may even get picked for Deputy Mayor, and run for the mayoralty in 2019 - see: Who will be the deputy mayor? For the case against Ralston, and for Lee, see Chris Trotter's From good guys to fall guys: The Spinoff and Generation Zero fail to endorse Mike Lee.

7) Wayne Davis (Whau Local Board)

He's running on the ticket of "Shadbolts Independent", because he's previously been on that ticket with Tim Shadbolt in the 1980s. But his ongoing use of the name is challenged by Reuben Shadbolt (son of Tim), and his conviction for domestic violence won't help his election chances - see Sarah Roberts and Evan Harding's Shadbolts at war over who owns their name.

8) Jack Gielen (Hamilton mayoralty). Aaron Leaman reports from a recent election forum: "Jack Gielen said if he could be any superhero for a day, it would be Jesus Christ and likened Hamilton to a new Jerusalem 'transfigured in light where people walk and love in harmony'. If elected mayor, Gielen would make prayer the council's top priority. 'Whenever we had a meeting in the chamber or whatever, we'd pray to God Father and then we would have a healing ceremony so we could heal one another's wounds'." - see: Hamilton mayoral candidates talk faith, morality and their favourite superhero.

9) Arshad Chatha (Hamilton mayoralty)

He says that he's a political victim due to his anti-corruption campaigning. Arshad Chatha has criminal convictions and a colourful past - see Aaron Leaman's Hamilton mayoral candidate's criminal past.

10) Murray Guy (Tauranga City Council)

The best endorsement of Guy comes from Maori politics blogger Graham Cameron, who says: "I like Murray. He's like your rude uncle who complains about PC rubbish all the time and makes jokes you cringe at... He really needs a website; his Facebook page is stream of consciousness. All of his policy announcements have been through the media and frankly I don't have time to trawl. Overall Murray hasn't changed much over the years: he doesn't want to spend money and he doesn't want you to pay rates" - see: Local body elections; not the best elections, but the only one we've got for now. Note, there are plenty of other interesting characters profiled in Cameron's blog post, which includes a warning: "I say, buyer beware: there are some very unbalanced people standing."

11) Roland Matley (Wairoa mayoralty)

He's said to be the oldest mayor candidate in the country and claims he's never had any interest in local politics before, but has had enough of rates increases - see Simon Hendery's At 85, retired teacher Roland Matley wants to be Mayor of Wairoa.

12) Ross Barber (Palmerston North mayor)

He features along with some other eccentrics in a very good feature by Henry Cooke and Laura McQuillan - see: Long shots: The quirkiest and most unlikely candidates of local government elections. This is what they say about him: "Barber is a pig farmer who leads a local group called 'Team God', and claims to be the Big Guy himself. He is the only candidate standing against the incumbent mayor, Grant Smith. Barber promises to 'speak peacefully with words that correctly settle differences'. He's been convicted multiple times for assaulting a child."

13) Alan Jefferies (Upper Hutt mayoralty)

The 65-year-old businessman has been fighting the Greater Wellington Regional Council, and now owes them $60,000 in court costs - see Chloe Winter's Upper Hutt mayoral hopeful faces bankruptcy proceedings from regional council.

14) Johnny Overton (Wellington mayoralty)

The candidate himself says "A vote for Johnny will be a thumbs up to stands being made against the establishment's globalisation agenda and for alternative views." He also describes himself as a "fringe-dwelling guerrilla gardener, artist and political activist", and doubts he even get 100 votes but is running to "spice some things up and throw in some ideas" - see Matt Stewart's Johnny Overton enters mayoralty race on Localisation Party ticket.

15) John Burn (Christchurch council)

He's got experience on the council, but has been away for a while - 27 years. But now he's back, to do the "small things that make a big difference to the community" - see Gabrielle Stuart's Former Christchurch city councillor John Burn returning for a cause.

16) Michael "tubby" Hansen (Christchurch mayoralty)

He's one of only three candidates for the job, but has hardly been visible in the campaign. You can read all you need to know about Hansen in his official Christchurch City Council information sheet.

17) Jock Anderson (Timaru District Council)

The former NBR journalist has been pushing his luck in campaigning at a supermarket, but is standing up against those clamping down on "election and democracy" - see Daisy Hudson's Timaru District Council candidate threatened with arrest.

18) Barry Timmings (Dunedin mayoralty)

His claim to fame during the race is joking to a disability-services run election forum that he was also disabled - see Hamish McNeilly's 'I feel disabled as a white 46-year-old male accountant', mayoral hopeful claims. The article reports that "wheelchair user Chris Ford, who helped organise the Wednesday event" was not impressed, saying "Let's put it out there, it was like Donald Trump".

19) Scout Barbour-Evans (Dunedin mayoralty)

As a transgender activist, Scout Barbour-Evans goes by the pronoun of "they" instead of "he" or "she", and their campaign is very interesting - see Gay NZ's Trans activist runs for Dunedin mayoralty. For more on Barbour-Evans' background and views, see 'I'm not transgender because it's popular' ( and 'Barking mad': Disgusting, stigmatising, harmful (

20) Michael Laws (Otago Regional Council)

Laws seems to be morphing into a more conservative version of Tim Shadbolt, having been mayor of Wanganui/Whanganui, he now wants to be involved in local government elsewhere. Now living in Cromwell, Laws is running on an environmental platform - see the ODT's Laws to stand for ORC.
Finally, who is missing from this list? If you know of any other candidates who need attention drawn to them, because they're quirky, bold, or bad, please leave a comment about them below.

- NZ Herald

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Bryce Edwards is a lecturer in Politics at the University of Otago.

Bryce Edwards is a lecturer in Politics at the University of Otago. He teaches and researches on New Zealand politics, public policy, political parties, elections, and political communication. His PhD, completed in 2003, was on 'Political Parties in New Zealand: A Study of Ideological and Organisational Transformation'. He is currently working on a book entitled 'Who Runs New Zealand? An Anatomy of Power'. He is also on the board of directors for Transparency International New Zealand.

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