Key Points:

    At a glance ■55 per cent is the percentage of rateable properties that are holiday homes. ■27 per cent are aged 65 plus and living full-time in the Coromandel on lower incomes than the New Zealand average.

Newly-elected Thames-Coromandel district councillor Gary Gotlieb is lobbying to make it easier for holiday home owners' views to be heard on council.

Barrister Gary Gotlieb gained the most votes for the South Eastern Ward, which includes the townships of Whangamatā, Tairua and Pāuanui — all of which have a large number of bach owners.

Gotlieb won 1417 votes, followed by Whangamatā local Terry Walker on 1380.


The Auckland resident says while he knows he has the support of many locals in Whangamatā, where he's involved in the surf club, he's also received phone calls from people upset that he has been voted on to council when he's not resident on the Coromandel.

"I have received emails and texts saying how dare I stand as I'm not a permanent resident. ... I've been coming [to Whangamatā] for 50 years and have probably spent more time here than most permanent residents."

He was a last-minute nomination and decided to stand for election two days before nominations closed, when a person who had planned to stand withdrew because of health reasons.

"It was then that I discovered that only permanent residents are on the elector roll. Absentee owners, which is over 70 per cent of our ward, are not on the roll and have to make a special application to have one vote per property."

Gotlieb has raised with Mayor Sandra Goudie the idea of TCDC following Taupō District Council's lead, which mails out the required forms for being added to the electoral roll, with the rate demand.

"In our area over 80 per cent of rates are paid by absentees," he says.

The cost of elected representation and staff in council was also of concern to ratepayers, he believed.

Last week the Coastal News published that 37 TCDC staff earned over $100,000 salaries while CEO Rob Williams earns $345,835 annually.


Auckland Council, which includes 577,000 households, has a CEO earning $691,154.

Gotlieb said he believed there was an "anomaly" with the number of elected members — and subsequent costs — from the election of councillors representing comparatively small populations such as neighbouring Hauraki, where there are 12 councillors.

"When we've got three other councils close by with staff and duplication — that doesn't make sense.

"Certainly a majority of property owners are disenfranchised," he says.

On the question of absentee ratepayers wants and needs, he believed the needs were much the same as locals.

"If you live here or are absentee you still want decent roads, stormwater, water, wastewater and facilities.

"We all want the same thing, we want to enjoy it and bring in tourists in a way that's beneficial for business but not ruin what we've got."

The estimated usually-resident population of the district is 29,700, which can rise in the peak of summer to around 121,000.

The district had a high rate of retirees which links to a lower median income of $23,200 for the resident population, compared to the national median of $28,500.

In a pre-election report, Rob Williams has said: "A challenge is figuring out how we can attract and keep working families to build a sustainable labour force, so we can survive and grow as a vibrant place."