Hamilton City Council's boss has had final sign-off on the questions to be fired at mayoral candidates at the celebrity hosted debate on Wednesday night.

The mayoral debate kicks off at 6pm at council-owned Claudelands Event Centre and the eight would-be mayors should expect to be asked questions based around the key challenges facing council outlined in its pre-election report.

So far 600 people have expressed interest in attending the event via the council's Facebook page and 100 have said they are going. The venue seats up to 800 people with a mix of sitting and standing.

Council chief executive Richard Briggs said the purpose of the debate was for people to get to know the candidates in a fair and unbiased way and encourage more people to vote.


"Really, we hope that Hamiltonians walk away feeling informed, engaged and hopefully inspired to vote in this year's elections."

TV presenter Mike McRoberts is being paid to host the debate and will choose from a list of questions that were put forward by council staff and members of the public before being confirmed by Briggs.

"Ultimately it's up to the host on how/whether he wishes to pose these questions on the night. The brief given to the host was to facilitate a fair and equitable debate to help inform the public and to encourage voter participation," Briggs said.

The debate wil be split into three rounds - quick-fire questions allowing only one-word answers, the main debate and final address where candidates can give a 90-second spiel.

Before the debate, 38 of 41 council candidates have confirmed they will attend a meet and greet between 4pm and 6pm to give the public to get to know them. McRoberts will also be available during that time for people to speak with and to pose for selfies.

The entire event, including McRobert's confidential hosting fee, is estimated to cost ratepayers $15,000.

Tomorrow evening, Hamilton City Council will turn a blind eye to the rule that candidates cannot campaign on council property.

Briggs said the rule was in place to ensure an even playing field for candidates, particularly between current elected members and other candidates, but because all candidates were invited it was appropriate for them to campaign.


Candidates were not allowed to take campaign signs, but sign-written tops and small collateral items such flyers and business cards were permitted.

The debate will be livestreamed via the council's website and there will be a sign-language interpreter on stage.

The move for council to host the event has previously been described by electoral officers as unusual because it is usually left to community groups or organisations to ensure the local body organisation remained neutral.

But Briggs has defended the move, saying it was a bold attempt by the council to try something different and encourage better voter participation after last time's poor turnout.