Nine newly elected Far North District councillors were sworn in during an official ceremony at Kaikohe Memorial Hall on Thursday.

The new and returning councillors - Ann Court, Kelly Stratford, David Clendon, Rachel Smith, John Vujcich, Moko Tepania, Felicity Foy, David Collard and Mate Radich - were welcomed with a pōwhiri before the declarations and inaugural council meeting took place.

Mayor John Carter was also sworn in at the ceremony, where he announced Court as his new deputy, taking over from Tania McInnes who ran for mayor during the local body elections and came second.

Popular new Kaikohe-Hokianga ward councillor Moko Tepania with Mayor John Carter. Photo / Jenny Ling
Popular new Kaikohe-Hokianga ward councillor Moko Tepania with Mayor John Carter. Photo / Jenny Ling

Carter was returned for a third term as Far North Mayor with 5831 votes after a record 11-way contest for the district's top job.


The new Far North District Council comprises 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.

Court said she was delighted with her new role and was looking forward to "being a support person for the rest of the team so we can be formidable".

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It's her seventh term as a councillor in the Far North, and she also held the deputy mayor position from 2010 to 2013 under former mayor Wayne Brown, she said.

Newcomer David Clendon, a former Green MP who lives in Kerikeri, said his role as councillor would be "a bit different to Parliament".

"But it's nice to be able to do something local ... I'm looking forward to working with a really tight council. There's been problems in the past but we're going to go beyond that and get on with the business because there's a lot to be done."

Fellow newcomer Moko Tepania, who at age 28 is Northland's youngest councillor, received the loudest cheers and whistles from supporters in the audience.

The teacher at Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Kaikohe said he was "really excited about what we'll be able to achieve over the next three years".


"I'm looking forward to being able to represent Kaikohe-Hokianga and the Far North as a whole, and give back to the community," he said.

 New and returning Far North District councillors at the swearing in. Photo / Jenny Ling
New and returning Far North District councillors at the swearing in. Photo / Jenny Ling

Tepania was also elected on to the Kaikohe-Hokianga Community Board, which will be taken by the next highest-polling candidate, Mike Edmonds, who has chaired the board for the past three years.

The other new councillors are Smith, a community board member in Kerikeri for the past three years, and Collard, a Kaitaia businessman who served one term from 2013.

Because Smith was re-elected unopposed to her role on the community board a byelection will be held.

Official notice of the byelection will be published on November 22, and ballot papers will be posted to Kerikeri subdivision electors ahead of the February 18 polling day.

Court said elected members and the senior leadership team would attend a two-day strategy meeting on November 1 and 2 where "honest talks" would take place to lay the foundations for the next three years.


The meetings would be held at the Copthorne in Waitangi and have outside support from Local Government New Zealand and other agencies, she said.

During the inaugural council meeting back in council chambers, Carter welcomed his new team, and said he was looking forward to a productive year.

He also asked councillors to come to him directly if there were any problems.

"I think the public selected a great team of people to work together," he said.

"But please, if you have an issue put it on the table. We're here to deal with the issues and represent our community. It's not about us personally it's about us collectively, working together."

Carter has said this will be his last term as mayor, and that he wants to ensure a number of major PGF-funded infrastructure projects were ''well and truly in place'' before giving up the reins.