John Herlihy has retained the (beer cap) chains of office for another two years, after being voted in as President of the Republic of Whangamōmona in yesterday's election.
Stratford mayor Neil Volzke attended the election and inauguration as mayor of the nearest neighbouring district.
"I note the election has been packed with allegations of cheating and corruption, and those allegations have mostly been proven to be true."
He said on going through the border control station that morning, he had been handed a pre-filled voting form for Herlihy.
"So the Whangamōmona traditions are continuing as always."
The tradition began in 1989 when the republic was formed after locals declared themselves a republic in protest against regional boundary changes that meant the township was to be classed as being in Manawatū/ Whanganui rather than Taranaki.
Every two years, the republic holds a presidential election and over the years there have been several humans and animal presidents. Herlihy has been preceded by a goat and a poodle as well as three other humans over the 32 years of the republic.
For the first time, a vice-president was also sworn into office on Saturday, reflecting the tight race between two of the presidential candidates this year.
Candidates included a trio of garden gnomes and a dinosaur, as well as a cross-dressing nun and Stratford pipe band major John Campbell who didn't seem to be winning many votes on the day, Herlihy faced a serious challenge from fellow local Bryan Ramage.
On the day, elections signs from both were on prominent display throughout the town, and their supporters were loudly vocal as well. Herlihy's campaign focused on a proven track record of leadership - citing the fact there had been no cases of Covid-19 within the republic at all.
"Only Pitcairn Island has achieved that as well, so we are pretty unique in that," said Herlihy.
Ramage's campaign was more about geography, arguing his family already live in the white house in Whangamōmona.
"And he's a good bloke," added one of his supporters, Sarah Bolt from New Plymouth. "At least, I have been told he is, I have never met him but someone in the pub told me to vote for him so I will."
Bolt was one of the many hundreds of visitors to come to Saturday's republic day, joining the around 12 or so permanent residents of the township. She said she had never been before despite living in Taranaki for the past 10 or so years.
"I couldn't use my passport last year much, so at least this year I can say I have left NZ for a day at least."
The voting took place in the traditional way, an unsupervised polling booth where residents and visitors alike could place as many votes as they wanted in the official ballot box/toilet.
Emcee Mark Coplestone then announced the results, saying they were so close, the decision had been made to have a vice-president to reflect the popularity of the top-polling candidates. There was a short delay before the official inauguration as Ramage had disappeared but he was eventually found and sworn in by Volzke.
The vice-president just had to agree to do what he was told by the president, but Herlihy had to formally make three pledges before the chains of office could be placed around his neck.
After he had duly pledged to buy beers for everyone present (tomorrow), grow and maintain a giant hedge all around the border of the republic and to not keep any stolen property offered to him, he was sworn back in as President for the third term.
The results of a referendum that took place on the day were also announced, with the unsurprising result that all but two people had voted against "orange road cones being used" in the township.
"We don't need them here, we do things our own way," said Herlihy.