A Whangarei mayoral candidate says he is disappointed the election campaign has been marred by what he calls a cowardly personal attack on him.

Go-Whangarei mayoral candidate David Blackley was confronted by self-appointed council watchdog Warren Slater at a meet-the-candidate forum at Ruatangata on Tuesday.

Mr Slater - who denied his attack was cowardly - had questioned Mr Blackley over a full-page advertisement the latter placed in the Northern Advocate in September 2011.

Mr Blackley said the advertisement was placed in response to rumours at the time that he had mistreated his wife.


Mr Blackley's advertisement included this statement: "I have never been convicted of an act of violence or abuse against any person nor have I ever stood before the Family Court to defend any such charge. I am most definitely not guilty of any act of abuse against any member of my family."

Mr Slater said he raised the advertisement at Ruatangata after receiving "many, many phone calls" about it.

On Wednesday night at an Onerahi candidate meeting, Mr Blackley said he had hoped the election would be centred on Whangarei-related issues, "not personalities".

Mr Slater's attack at Ruatangata was cowardly, he told the Onerahi gathering.

"Last night [Tuesday] I attended a candidate meeting and was subjected to a personal attack ... I previously stated I would not tolerate attacks on my family or children," Mr Blackley told the crowd.

He spoke for several minutes about his family breakdown, centred on his former wife's alleged mental health issues.

Mr Blackley said his seven children lived with him by choice and his former wife left Whangarei in December 2011. However, meeting chairman John Ross intervened and asked Mr Blackley to discuss his policies, which he then did.

Mr Slater told the Advocate he did not feel he had "attacked" Mr Blackley, and said he appreciated Mr Blackley being so forthright.

"I don't believe I'm a coward because no one else had brought it up," Mr Slater said.

"But he can call me what he likes. I told him after the meeting, 'I appreciate you bringing it out in the open tonight [Wednesday]'. As far as I'm concerned, it's done and dusted."