The Canterbury Westland region of the National Party will hold a special meeting in January after losing four key members of its council in less than a year.
The region lost its regional chair, Rob Benden, and three deputy regional chairs. The four were only elected at the region’s AGM in April earlier this year, although in Benden’s case this was a re-election.
Benden stepped down a month ago, with two of the three deputies resigning in the subsequent weeks. The other deputy resigned earlier in the year.
A spokesman for the National Party said the “Canterbury Westland regional chair has stepped down from the role and we are now holding an SGM [Special General Meeting] to elect a new chair.
“The deputy chairs have also decided not to continue in their roles due to a variety of personal reasons so elections will be held to fill those roles too,” he said.
The Canterbury Westland Regional Council met on Monday to move that an SGM be held on January 22 for the sole purpose of electing those four positions.
The nationwide National Party is divided into multiple regions which sit above the party structure in individual electorates. Members of regional councils are elected at each AGM and serve a term going to the next AGM at which point they may seek re-election.
The Canterbury Westland region has been the topic of controversy in recent years.
It was once chaired by Roger Bridge, who also sat on the National Party’s national-level board.
During the 2020 election, Bridge allegedly called Marcus Lush’s Newstalk ZB radio show under the alias “Merv”, claiming to be “confused” by Nuwanthie Samarakone’s bid for the candidacy in the electorate.
He left the party board after that scandal, but kept his role in Canterbury Westland. None of the roles that were resigned from were held by Bridge.
After a period of disruption following the party’s transition to opposition, the National Party backroom operation has been relatively stable of late - particularly since Christopher Luxon took over the party leadership.
The party AGM in Christchurch in August saw long-standing party President Peter Goodfellow retire after years at the helm, handing over to Sylvia Wood.