A Horowhenua District council meeting took a turn for the bizarre, as deputy mayor Ross Campbell was voted out by councillors, but immediately reinstated by mayor Michael Feyen invoking his mayoral prerogative.
However, the unprecedented move, which has allegedly never happened in New Zealand local government before, left councillors, staff and the CEO unsure about the legalities, and it was decided the deposing motion, which included the election of a new deputy mayor, should be completed, before further advice was sought.
Councillors Wayne Bishop and Victoria Kaye-Simmons were nominated as Campbell's replacement, with Bishop winning the vote 6-2.
Mayor Feyen said he was sorry he jumped the gun over reinstating Campbell, but that after the vote, he would be exercising his right to choose the deputy mayor that he thinks he needs.
"I've been advised that what I'm saying is perfectly legitimate and legal," he said.
Feyen said that tomorrow, he and HDC Chief Executive David Clapperton would be moving very quickly to get a higher authority to rule on his bid to use his right as mayor to reinstate Campbell, and that he would stand by that decision.
Clapperton said that his understanding was the voting in of Wayne Bishop would stand in the meantime.
Bishop said that if Feyen was able to reinstate Campbell, he didn't think there would be the motivation around the council table to go through the whole process of trying to oust him again, although he said he wasn't speaking for the other councillors specifically.
"If a ruling comes, we'll have to accept that decision," he said.
Bishop said he wanted to take some advice and seek clarification as the loophole in the Local Government Act that allowed the situation to happen "hasn't been tested."
Cheers erupted in the packed public gallery and outside in the foyer when Feyen announced his intention to reinstate Campbell as his deputy.
Around 50 protesters surrounded the front entrance of the council building before the meeting, waving placards on a variety of issues, but mainly in support of Campbell staying on as deputy mayor.