National Party member David Thornton died on election day, not knowing who will lead the next Government.

Thornton, 81, had been suffering ill health for some time, and spent his final weeks in hospital, casting an early vote from his bed on Wednesday, September 20.

He died on Saturday 23.

His vote will still be counted - the Electoral Act states that anyone who casts a vote but dies before election day will not have their vote counted; however if they die on election day, it is still valid.


"We're going to be married 40 years in January so I'm a bit annoyed with him about that," his wife Paddy Thornton told the Herald this morning.

"But to go out on election day is so David."

The couple had lived in New Zealand since 1977 after meeting in England, Thornton's home country.

Paddy and David Thornton in India, shortly before they were married in 1978. Photo / Supplied
Paddy and David Thornton in India, shortly before they were married in 1978. Photo / Supplied

He was an anti-rates activist and former member of the North Shore City council.

Also a National Party member, Paddy Thornton was certain her husband would have voted at least one tick blue.

There had been some debate about whether he had given the North Shore's National candidate Maggie Barry his electorate vote, so she couldn't be sure which way he'd gone.

Thornton had been frail over winter, suffering heart and respiratory problems.

"He was in hospital for two weeks but I truly believed he would come home," Paddy said through tears.


"Somebody said to me he was a 'p' person: his loves were politics, Paddy, parties, people and papers."

By papers they meant newspapers - Thornton read the news and listened to the radio religiously.

He would have found the stand-off between Labour and National to woo New Zealand First "absolutely fascinating", Paddy said.

"Politics was a great love of his.

"He was a very political person, he was a member of the Greater London council and then he was a member of the North Shore City council and he was also on the Glenfield community board."

For more than a decade, Thornton campaigned extensively on the issue of rates with his platform No More Rates.

He argued for lower and fairer rates for homeowners, saying council charges were too high.

Even in his final weeks, Thornton was still keen to talk politics from his hospital bed.

David Thornton on the beach. Photo / Supplied
David Thornton on the beach. Photo / Supplied

The couple's godchild and her friends came to visit him in hospital, where he sparked debate and encouraged them all to vote even as his breathing problems made speech difficult.

"His mind was still sharp. It's just his body was tired."

Thornton is survived by his daughter from his first marriage, Annabel Hitchen, and her two daughters, who Thornton spoke to on Saturday night shortly before he died.

"[That] made him very, very happy," Paddy said.

"He then watched the All Blacks beat the [Spring]Boks on his iPad."

Thornton's funeral will be held at the North Harbour Chapel of Dil's Funeral Services, 185 Schnapper Rock Rd, Albany at 3pm this Saturday.