Concerns over lawfulness and democracy have been raised after it emerged a local woman had written and signed off on emails as the district's mayor.

Several councillors spoke at a full Horowhenua District Council meeting on Wednesday about the need for an investigation into the allegation, which NZME understands to refer to local woman Christine Toms, although she wasn't named in the meeting.

Toms has been openly acting in an advocacy role for mayor Michael Feyen.

Horowhenua District councillor Pirihira Tukapua told the meeting that she had received information that an unauthorised person had been writing and signing off emails purporting to be from Feyen.


Neither the mayor, nor Mrs Toms were at the meeting, but in an earlier statement to Horowhenua Chronicle, Toms said any arrangements she had with the mayor as his advocate were confidential.

Media at the meeting were offered a copy of an email from Toms' email address, which was sent to mayor Michael Feyen, with HDC chief executive David Clapperton copied in.

It was written as if from the mayor, and queried the qualifications held by Group Manager Infrastructure Services Gallo Saidy, who is acting chief executive while Clapperton is on leave.

Tukapua said the writing and signing off on emails as the mayor was "straight up unlawful".

"It damages democracy, and it seriously damages confidence and good governance," Tukapua said.

Feyen said in an earlier statement that Toms had never been paid by HDC "in any form".
He said his mayoral office set-up was "separate from the executive and administration".
"I can have anyone I think appropriate to work for me," he said.

"Paid or unpaid, and that includes Christine Toms as my current advocate."

HDC group manager corporate services Mark Lester confirmed Toms was not paid by council for her time as the mayor's advocate.

He said the mayor took his powers from the Local Government Act 2002, which required the council to delegate operational control to the chief executive.

"It does not provide for the mayor to delegate his responsibilities to a non-councillor generally, or to act through an intermediary," he said.

"Council rejects any unauthorised interventions by Christine Toms as the 'mayor's advocate' and does not recognise their content."

Lester said the budget for the mayor's office was part of the Representation and Community Leadership Activity, which was funded largely by rates.

"With the exception of the Mayoral Discretionary Fund - a grant fund with a budget this financial year of $10,000 - there is no specific discretionary budget available to the mayor," he said.

"The mayor does not have the ability to employ any staff other than being involved in the employment of the chief executive, which is a matter for the full council."

Toms is believed to have invoiced HDC for her services as advocate and the invoice was ignored.

Tukapua said she hoped the mayor and her fellow councillors would support her in passing the issue on "to the appropriate authorities to investigate and solve".