Details of candidate expenses have revealed who the biggest spenders were in Northland's 2019 local elections — and who spent next to nothing yet still got voted in.

By law all candidates have to declare how much they spent trying to get elected as well as any donations they received.

Their declaration forms show the biggest spenders in the Far North mayoral race were Kaitaia businessman Monty Knight with $14,135 and reformed gang leader and kickboxing champion Jay Hepi on $13,389, though Hepi's figure is for his mayoral and council campaigns combined.

They were followed by former deputy mayor Tania McInnes ($10,374), re-elected mayor John Carter ($9162), renegade former councillor Dave Hookway ($7328) and spray campaigner John Levers ($2550).


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Knight finished fourth despite his spend-up while Hepi, in spite of a large war chest and strong support in his home town of Kaikohe, failed to win the mayoralty or take a council seat.

By contrast Māori sports expert Harko Brown declared he had spent nothing at all and the Reverend Kuini Matene spent the princely sum of $52.

No one came close to breaching the $40,000 spending cap.

Dividing the amount spent by the number of votes received reveals that Knight spent $6.03 for every vote he gained.

Hepi's spend per vote is hard to calculate because he was effectively running two campaigns on one set of costs. If one assumes half his spend was for his mayoral campaign, that works out at $5.36 per vote.

Levers also had a pricey campaign at $3.79 per vote, followed by McInnes ($2.66), Hookway ($2.08), Carter ($1.57), John Bassett ($1.27), Peter Gill (35c), Matene (21c) and Brown (0c).

Tania McInnes was one of the biggest spenders — but also the most successful fundraiser — in the Far North mayoral race. Photo / supplied
Tania McInnes was one of the biggest spenders — but also the most successful fundraiser — in the Far North mayoral race. Photo / supplied

The declarations also show wide disparities in donations received.


McInnes, the most successful fundraiser, collected a whopping $10,330. That left her only $44 out of pocket for the entire campaign.

Hepi also showed good fundraising skills by collecting $7536 in donations. Of the other candidates, only Hookway declared a significant donation ($500). Matene declared a quantity of home baking but was unable to give it a monetary value.

The sums spent by Northland Regional Council candidates also varied widely.

The biggest spender ($8288) was Penny Smart, who has since been elected as chairwoman. Her spend is surprising because she ran unopposed in the Kaipara constituency.

The next highest spend was by Rick Stolwerk ($6112) who won the Coastal South seat.

In the hotly contested Coastal North constituency, former chairman Bill Shepherd — who narrowly lost his seat in the final count — spent $5035 while Dover Samuels spent $5115.

Ironically, the winners of the two Coastal North seats spent very little. Marty Robinson estimated he had spent $100 on petrol while Jocelyn Yeoman said she had spent $36 on Facebook post boosts.

That makes Yeoman's spend per vote received a mere 0.6c, less even than Robinson's 1.5c. Unsuccessful candidates Shepherd and Samuels, by contrast, spent 90c and $1.21 per vote, respectively.

The canny Samuels, however, won't be hurting too much. He raised $8000 in donations, significantly more than he spent on his campaign.

In the Kaipara Mayor Jason Smith spent $5401 getting re-elected. The spend of his only rival, Moemoea Mokowhenua, has not yet been made public.

The Whangārei District Council had yet to release the figures for its candidates when this story was researched. Those figures will follow at a later date.