In all her 70 years, veteran journalist and almost Whakatāne District Councillor Hinerangi Goodman has never felt more offended than right now.
During the past two weeks Goodman has ridden a rollercoaster of local body election processes that in her opinion she said ultimately trampled on tikanga like nothing she had experienced before. And she is determined it will not happen to anybody again.
Standing in Whakatāne District Council's Galatea-Murupara ward in the local elections, Goodman tied with the incumbent Alison Silcock on 262 votes. To determine who would become councillor, a name was drawn from a box and Goodman was declared the winner.
"Initially they suggested pulling the name from a hat until I explained that, for Māori, heads and hats were tapu and that wouldn't do," Goodman said.
Goodman had been informed that a countback of votes was an option Silcock could choose to take but, after receiving two messages of congratulations from Silcock, Goodman believed her rival had elected not to take that path.
Goodman said she had earlier suggested to Whakatāne District Council that she and Silcock co-govern.
"When we went ahead with the pōwhiri and swearing in, I admit a countback was at the back of my mind," Goodman said. "But had I had any idea of what was to follow, I would never have agreed to be part of the pōwhiri or invite my two kaumātua to the ceremony.
"My kaumātua talked about a new dawning between the Murupara/Galatea rohe and council through my inclusion. He talked about working relationships between myself and Mayor Judy Turner, and he also welcomed Judy as Mayor from our people.
"As far as my people were concerned, once the pōwhiri and swearing-in ceremony was done, the deal was sealed. To take it away again goes against tikanga and it also tramples on the mana and the mauri people had placed in me to be their representative."
Silcock had asked for a countback of votes with the result placing her one vote ahead of Goodman.
"I have a problem with the lack of transparency around not only the recount process, but the entire election process once the initial votes were counted."
Goodman said she had not finished the journey yet and, along with others including the New Zealand Māori Council, was looking at other avenues of action.
"If nothing else, I would like there to be a close relationship between the Māori Council and local councils to ensure this never happens again.
"Ultimately I'm not disappointed for myself, but I am disappointed for the people who did vote for me. And I am disappointed at the entire farcical process."
She said it was a process that cut across all boundaries of tikanga and of mana, which were at the very core of Māori.
"I will, however, keep searching for a platform to bring Murupara back to the thriving place it was when I was bringing up my children in the '60s and '70s. To get rid of the drugs and the gangs, to create employment and to empower the people who love Murupara but have become overwhelmed by the lack of funding and resources coming into the town."
Whakatāne Mayor Judy Turner said Whakatāne District Council was governed by the Electoral Act and did not have a say in election processes.
"We were under pressure to get things back to business as usual as our annual report needed to be approved by October 31 and we required a full council that had been sworn in to be able to do that," Turner said.
She said a full council required all seats to be filled and that was why a name was drawn from a box to determine the Murupara/Galatea seat.
"We were aware either of the candidates could seek a recount, in fact, we were expecting it to happen, but we were under pressure to have things completed."
Turner said if changes to the electoral process were required, they would have to be sought through Government.
"I have spoken to both Hinerangi and Alison since the recount and I feel for both women and what they have had to go through. It is to both their credit, the way in which they have dealt with it."
Turner said it had been exciting to see high voter numbers in the Galatea/Murupara ward and hoped engagement between council and the communities would progress.
Alison Silcock and electoral officer Dale Ofsoske have been approached for comment.