Attacks, social media sledging, harsh hoardings: When did local government elections get so nasty?
Electoral officers Warwick Lampp and Dale Ofsoske have both noticed an increase in negative campaigning in this year's battles for seats on local councils.
Ofsoske said he had mainly noticed it in Auckland, while Lampp - electoral officer for Tauranga and Rotorua - said he was seeing it all over New Zealand.
Lampp suspected candidates were trying to emulate the success of negative strategies in international political campaigns like those that elected Trump and brought about Brexit.
Tauranga-based University of Waikato political science lecturer Justin Phillips studied the influence of negative political communication in the 2012 and 2016 United States presidential elections.
He said negative campaigning can be a winning election strategy, but it can also harm voters' confidence in the political system - an outcome worth worrying about.
"Going negative" as a campaign strategy had a long history, Phillips said.
But it was possible the success of campaigns such as Brexit and Trump's had "normalised negativity" for voters.
He said the influence of those campaigns was one of any number of factors that could be contributing to a rise in negative campaigning in local elections.
"There's some evidence to suggest new media might accelerate this trend - at least in national elections - but it might also be a result of candidates merely capitalising on a frustrated electorate."
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An attack ad might motivate people already aligned against a candidate to get out and vote, and scare those with weak support for the target away from the polls, he said.
But it could also backfire.
"Generally, candidate-endorsed negativity tends to lower voters' opinions of all the candidates, including the attacker.
"Strategically it can, therefore, be used to win elections, but it also seems to harm voters' confidence in the political system and depress civic engagement, which is something we should all be concerned about."
There was growing evidence, however, that candidates benefited when they "outsourced" their attacks to others.
"This makes sense logically. If voters are presented with an attack from a seemingly apolitical outside group, they might be more inclined to deem it credible, in contrast to a self-serving attack from the candidates themselves."
Candidates had to ensure, however, they stayed within election financing laws.
Dr Olli Hellmann, a senior political science lecturer at the university, said negative campaigning had more potential to backfire in an STV election.
The voting method - adopted by Tauranga City Council for the first time this election - asks voters to rank candidates.
Each person's vote could wind up helping any of the candidates they rank be elected.
Hellmann said that should, theoretically, "disincentivise negative campaigning".
Candidates who made a negative impression risked missing out on not just the single votes of a few people, but on a portion of each vote if people ranked them low or, worse, not at all.
And in STV, any portion could wind up helping a candidate get elected.