Tauranga's museum referendum is a New Zealand first for online voting, an election expert says.

Tauranga City Council electoral officer Warwick Lampp said the referendum was the first time a New Zealand council had allowed an online voting option alongside the traditional postal ballot.

Lampp, who works for election management company Electionz and has run elections around the country, said local government election legislation did not permit online voting.

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As the referendum was not being held under that legislation, however, the council was free to give voters an internet option.

Lampp said the "yes/no answer" referendum was an ideal "test case" for the sector, which had been slower to adopt online elections than other sectors.

The reluctance was likely because of concerns about security.

Critics would be looking at whether it increased participation, how easy people found it and how secure it was, among other issues.

More than 1000 people had cast a referendum vote so far, Lampp said, averaging about 300 per day.

"And it's early days yet."

Online voting was a routine and "mature technology" to elect boards and other governing groups of universities, Maori settlement trusts, agriculture co-operatives and the like, he said.

The advantages of the technology were that people could do so from anywhere, on any device.

Mayor Greg Brownless said he hoped the online option would increase participation.

All registered voters should have received an electoral pack by now containing instructions about how to vote online.

Online voting is only available for the referendum, which is being held alongside a city-wide byelection, to be decided by postal ballot voting.

Referendum questions

- Do you support Tauranga City Council including a museum in the 2018/2028 Long Term Plan?"

- In terms of location of the museum, do you support:
A. Cliff Road Yes/No
B. Willow Street Yes/No.