In the end, it all came down to five votes.
Of the hundreds of votes cast in the official ballot box (which looks suspiciously like a toilet), it came down to just five votes to separate the winner from the runner up in the 2019 Whangamomona Republic presidential election.
On Saturday, hundreds of visitors and tourists joined the 12 or so actual residents of the Republic of Whangamomona in the Stratford district to celebrate the 30th year of the township's independence from New Zealand.
Back in 1989, the declaration of independence was made to protest against regional boundary changes made which classified the township as no longer being in Taranaki, but rather in Manawatū/ Whanganui.

Stratford mayor Neil Volzke announced the election results, wearing his official mayoral chains and a less official
Stratford mayor Neil Volzke announced the election results, wearing his official mayoral chains and a less official "make Stratford great again" hat.

Since then, every two years the locals hold an election as part of their republic day celebrations, attracting people from all over the world.
The winner of the 2019 presidential election was the sitting president, Whangamomona local John Herlihy, who will now serve a second term as president of the tiny republic in Taranaki.

John Herlihy was re-elected as president of Whangamomona on Saturday, January 19
John Herlihy was re-elected as president of Whangamomona on Saturday, January 19

The dubious honour of second place went to Mrs Brown, aka Morris West, who campaigned tirelessly on the day and began loudly demanding a recount as the results were announced.

Mrs Brown, came a respectable second place, told emcee Mark Coplestone that the Irish know all about being a republic
Mrs Brown, came a respectable second place, told emcee Mark Coplestone that the Irish know all about being a republic

The battle for presidency hadn't been a two horse race however, with several other candidates coming forward.
Prior to Saturday's election, Eunice the Sheep had made herself known as a contender, but she was no-where to be seen when the town, and the tourists, went to the polls.
The rumours that Herlihy's campaign team might have kidnapped her seemed to have some basis, when demands for a $20 ransom were made by members of the Herlihy camp. Eunice however, never surfaced, although one stall was doing a roaring trade selling mutton sandwiches on the day.

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Sherman the cockatoo, with campaign managers Matt Bain and Savvy Oldershaw, came third in the election
Sherman the cockatoo, with campaign managers Matt Bain and Savvy Oldershaw, came third in the election

Eunice wasn't the only non-human to campaign for the right to govern Whangamomona, Sherman the cockatoo was another popular candidate on the day, coming in a respectable third place.
He, along with his campaign managers Matt Bain and Savvy Oldershaw, had travelled from Masterton for the day, with Matt saying Sherman's campaign slogan was "Sherman will have your back, in return for a scratch".
Another contender on the day was Hannah, an overseas tourist who said she was looking for a husband a job or to be elected president, with no preference as to which one panned out.
She joined Griff Robb, who was campaigning on a ticket of making Whangamomona a seaside resort, Maketoni the teddy bear, who was later disqualified for being an inanimate object, and a man named Michael who planned to build a wall around Whangamomona.

Once the election results were announced and official photographs were taken, the re-elected president immediately moved to matters of international diplomacy, challenging Neil Volzke, mayor of the neighbouring town of Stratford to a dunk tank challenge. With the challenge accepted, it was no surprise it ended with two very wet leaders and plenty of loud cheering.

Stratford mayor Neil Volzke was toppled into the dunk tank by Whangamomona president John Herlihy, but soon got his revenge.
Stratford mayor Neil Volzke was toppled into the dunk tank by Whangamomona president John Herlihy, but soon got his revenge.