Wairoa is faced with yet another interesting local election, with the mayor and his six councillors all seeking re-election, amid a vote on whether the council should have a Maori electoral ward..

However, one of the incumbents will miss out, with present mayor Craig Little and councillor Benita Cairns seeking only the top job. The pair are in a three-way race with retired teacher Roland Matley, who is also seeking council election.

As in the last triennial elections in 2013, when Mr Little ousted incumbent Les Probert and had almost double the vote of nearest challenger and former mayor Derek Fox, there will be 14 on the council ballot.

Rather than reflecting any dissatisfaction with the way Wairoa is headed, the numbers perhaps reflected an interest in being in on the action, although there are hints of some fractious issues of the past three years.


The first big issue developed in 2014 over differences in spending on some council projects and initiatives.

One councillor resigned as a consequence of the reported in-fighting. A byelection to replace him was held early last year, with 10 candidates and more than 4000 people voting. It was won by first-time candidate and former soldier Jeremy Harker, now among those back on the campaign trail.

Although Wairoa has resisted the temptation to separate urban and rural candidates and voters, it has however grappled with an issue of Maori representation, leading to a decision in May to hold a poll at election time on whether the council should have a Maori electoral ward.

But there was further division over whether the poll should be held in conjunction with the election or as a separate vote at another time.