A councillor who was part of last year's "trainwreck" Tauranga City Council is now wanting to join the Western Bay council.
Controversial city councillor Andrew Hollis is among 10 candidates in the Western Bay of Plenty District Council byelection, vying for the role left vacant after Christina Humphreys quit in January.
But iwi representative Buddy Mikaere has criticised the nomination.
Hollis has hit back, saying he is ''just getting started''.
Nominations have closed. Voting for the byelection begins on April 8 and closes on April 30. The seat will represent the Katikati-Waihi Beach ward.
Hollis told the Bay of Plenty Times: "There was a contact that wanted me to run last time but I was living in the city."
Hollis has since bought a property in Pahoia and has visions of growing avocados and building an American-style barn. He also wants to reprise his role as a "friend of the community".
"I was quite happy when I was helping the community. That's why I ran so no, nothing has really changed for me. That's what I was there for. I genuinely like helping people."
But he is unapologetic for his role in the bitter internal stoushes involving the city council's elected members.
The tumultuous infighting and division ultimately led to Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta appointing commissioners to replace the councillors.
Within his first week of being elected, Hollis made a social media comment supporting burning the Treaty of Waitangi. The October 2019 comment prompted Te Rangapū Mana Whenua o Tauranga Moana (formerly known as the Tauranga Moana Tangata Whenua Collective) to write a letter to then-mayor Tenby Powell accusing the newly elected Hollis of "hate speech" and saying the committee refused to work with him on any issue relating to Māori.
At the time, Powell said Hollis should resign over the comments, citing in his opinion that Hollis had displayed pre-determination and should not be allowed to take part in any council decisions relating to iwi or the Treaty – which was most decisions.
Hollis responded by standing by his comments and saying they would not conflict him in any decision.
In March last year, Powell called Hollis a "f****** climate-denying racist" in a meeting in March and was subsequently censured by the council after Hollis pursued a Code of Conduct complaint. Hollis denies being racist.
Controversy continued when Hollis leaked a secretly recorded Zoom meeting in which Powell said he did not sign up to the leader of the elected members but leader of the city.
In August, Hollis laid a Code of Conduct complaint against former deputy mayor Larry Baldock regarding a social media post. Hollis said at the time "I felt my integrity was impugned". Baldock hit back by lodging his own complaint in response.
In November, an independent monitoring report warned city councillors to unite or become a "trainwreck" of their own making.
Hollis, who previously headed much of the Fix The Bloody Road campaign that called for a safer State Highway 2, said the byelection would be a "good test" to see if people really cared about those "trivial" kinds of things.
"I quite enjoy politics and being a politician," he said.
But Mikaere, who stood in protest against Hollis in the council's inaugural meeting in light of the Treaty comment, told the Bay of Plenty Times he believed Hollis achieved nothing in setting up local ratepayer and resident groups.
"So why would anyone vote for him in the Western Bay?"
Mikaere said the strong support from Western Bay residents to return Panepane Point to Māori ownership demonstrated what people wanted from their representatives and, in his view, Hollis was not it.
"The Treaty lives at the heart of the Local Government Act ..."
But Hollis responded by saying Mikaere's comments were, in his opinion, "ludicrous".
"I am just getting started."
Hollis disputed the assertion he had done nothing as a councillor and ratepayer advocate, saying he was instrumental in getting the Mauao base track completed in 2019 and that he had already received a lot of support for his Western Bay campaign.
Humphreys said she supported Hollis, and fellow candidate John Clements, in their bid for the seat because she believed someone with business acumen was needed for her former role.
"I think Andrew has the nous to be there. And if they [Hollis and Clements] didn't agree with something, they are the type that will speak up."
Humphreys, who experienced her own Code of Conduct threat, said Hollis' involvement with the city council's issues last year could either work well for him or backfire.
''I wouldn't be unhappy if he got in."
Technically, city elected members remain in office but have been discharged of their duties. They no longer get paid and the commissioners now make all the decisions.
The commissioners are expected to be in place until at least October next year.
The other candidates for the Western Bay council are:
· Bryce Bevin (Independent)
· John Clements
· Griff Cooke
· Bill Hedges (Independent)
· Rodney Joyce (Independent)
· David Marshall
· Allan Sole
· Kevin Tohiariki
· Kim Williams (Independent)