Hawke's Bay Power Consumers' trustee Helen Francis has conceded she made a misleading statement in the current Trust election.

In a campaign statement she said a group of five candidates intended "to take the full dividend away from our consumers".

She said her statement was not to be interpreted as the five wanting to take all of the Unison dividend away from the Trust's consumer-owners.

"If I had meant the whole dividend I would have said whole or entire," she said.


Unison owns the electricity lines in Hastings, Napier, Rotorua and Taupo and through the Trust is owned by electricity account holders in Napier and Hastings.

This year the consumer-owners received a record dividend cheque for $200, which could have been more had the Hawke's Bay Power Consumer Trust not asked Unison to hold back $1.7 million to put overhead power lines underground.

Ms Francis is one of three incumbent trustees running under the slogan Your Check Your Choice.

Fellow incumbent campaigner Diana Kirton said it was not hypocritical to accuse the five candidates of diverting funds to "pet projects" while incumbents diverted Unison profits to projects only trustees decided upon, because the projects involved electricity so benefited consumer-owners. In comparison the five candidates wished to divert funds to community projects.

The five candidates have cried foul because they wish to first ask consumers if they wished to divert any Unison profit, so if elected and consumer-owners rejected any diversion, dividends under the five to consumer-owners would be bigger than under the incumbent trustees.

The five candidates are recently-retired Unison chairman and DHB chairman Kevin Atkinson, former Napier MP and Cabinet minister Chris Tremain, paediatrician and former children's commissioner Russell Wills, appointed DHB board member and former Napier mayor Barbara Arnott and elected DHB member and former pharmacist Peter Dunkerley.

The third incumbent trustee is Ken Gilligan who has been involved with the Trust since the 1990s. He raised eyebrows in 2008 when he resigned as trustee to become a Unison director during a Trust election. He was Trust chairman from 1999 to 2008 and, after new trustees replaced him on the Unison board, was re-elected to the Trust in 2011.

Ms Francis is the quality and performance manager at Hastings Health Centre and sits on the Hawke's Bay District Health Board (DHB). Ms Kirton is a health therapist and elected DHB board member.

There are 13 candidates for five trustee positions, with mail, online and ballot box voting already under way. All votes must be cast by October 2.

Also running are retiring Napier Port CEO Garth Cowie, insurance broker Bill Reilly, accountant Giles Pearson, former Hawke's Bay regional councillor Liz Remmerswaal and consultant electrical engineer and former trustee John Geoghegan.