Horowhenua's mayor has been asked to stop parking his car at the front of Levin's council building as it is signwritten with a slogan promoting his re-election campaign.

Michael Feyen said he had been asked to move the car from the council-owned land and told he wasn't allowed to start campaigning yet for the October local government election, but he had seen no legislation preventing him from doing so.

"I'm now parking about a kilometre away and walking to work," he said. "It [was] the same carpark I'd always parked in and there were no problems with me doing that during the last election."

Horowhenua mayor Michael Feyen's car.
Horowhenua mayor Michael Feyen's car.

Feyen said he was attending a Rural and Provincial conference where he had spoken to other mayors about the issue.


"I've been talking to a lot of mayors down here and they think it's an absolute joke," he said.

"It's idiocy that I can't park my car at my place of work outside of electioneering times. Why [the council] is upset is that none of them were aware you could do that legally and it took them by surprise. There's a real concern in the current council that I'll get back in again."

Electoral Officer Warwick Lampp said there was no specific legislation in the Local Government Act about the sign-written car being parked on the publicly-visible council-owned land but elected member protocols and guidelines stated that the mayor may have an unfair disadvantage in doing so.

"The person that sets the rule is me," he said. "The same election protocols are in place across New Zealand and no one else has done what he's done. Council premises can't be used for electioneering and campaigning."

Lampp said a potential consequence could result if an election result was very close as the losing candidate could lay a complaint that the incumbent had received an advantage through using the council land to display a signwritten car - something a non-incumbent person could not do."

"Could a member of the public park their car in a council carpark all day and go off and do their private business?" he said. "No they could not."

Lampp said Feyen had an allocated space in the carpark under the building, but Feyen said he refused to park there as he still had concerns over the structural safety of the building which he had controversially and repeatedly deemed to be unsound in the event of an earthquake.

"There's no way in the world I'll park under that building," Feyen said.

Horowhenua District Council building in Levin.
Horowhenua District Council building in Levin.

The mayor said he had not signwritten the car or parked it where he had because he was trying to "p**s anybody off".

"I'm just doing my campaign," he said. Feyen said it was perfectly legal to begin campaigning early, even the day after being voted in.

"There didn't seem to be an awareness [of that] amongst councillors," he said. "I'm not upset [with what's happening] because I expect it.

"But I believe I've done nothing wrong."