Despite a record choice of candidates, Far North voters appear to have opted largely for more of the same for the next three years, returning John Carter for a third term as mayor along with many familiar councillors.

However, with almost 2500 people having their say at the last minute, the preliminary results — which include Saturday morning's votes — still hadn't been published by edition time last night.

That means the only results available when the Advocate went to press were from voting papers received by Friday afternoon, about 94 per cent of the total vote.

At that time one seat in particular remained on a knife-edge, with teacher Moko Tepania just 16 votes ahead of long-time councillor Sally Macauley in the Kaikohe-Hokianga Ward.


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Both were waiting nervously yesterday as officials continued counting into the evening. Several other candidates are fewer than 50 votes away from winning, or losing, their seats.

Whatever the final outcome, the biggest shift in the new Far North District Council is likely to be in its members' average age.

If the initial results are confirmed Tepania, 28, of Kaikohe, and Rachel Smith, 35, of Kerikeri, will be among the new faces around the council table.

Tepania's win would come at the expense of Macauley, while Deputy Mayor Tania McInnes and outspoken councillor Dave Hookway are also out, having opted to contest the mayoralty only.

A record 90 candidates contested the Far North's council and community board elections, with 11 vying for the mayoralty alone.

This election was also notable for the number of high-profile people standing, though none were successful. They included reformed gang leader Jay Hepi, social activist and former Green MP Sue Bradford, and Op Shop singer Jason Kerrison.

As of yesterday afternoon the new council comprised Ann Court, Kelly Stratford, Rachel Smith and David Clendon in the Bay of Islands-Whangaroa Ward; John Vujcich and Moko Tepania in Kaikohe-Hokianga; and Felicity Foy, Mate Radich and David Collard in Te Hiku.


The new faces are Smith, a community board member in Kerikeri for the past three years; Clendon, a former Green MP who also lives in Kerikeri; Tepania, a teacher at Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Kaikohe and fluent te reo speaker; and Kaitaia publican and Snapper Bonanza organiser David Collard, though he has served a previous term as councillor in 2013-16.

Though it's only days since the election, Kerikeri will have to start gearing up for a byelection already.

Smith had already won a seat on the Bay of Islands-Whangaroa Community Board, where the number of Kerikeri candidates matched the number of seats.

However, because she also won a council seat and can't do both, that leaves the community board one member short.

According to the initial results Tepania has also won a seat on the council and the Kaikohe-Hokianga Community Board.

In that case, however, there is no need for a byelection because the next highest polling candidate — Mike Edmonds — will take his place on the community board.

The final turnout was 46.05 per cent, well ahead of the 41.7 per cent recorded in the 2016 election and bucking a national trend.