Posties will have an extra load to carry for the next few days as they deliver voting papers to almost 31,000 people in the Wanganui district for the business end of the local body elections.

Exactly 30,987 voting forms and a voters' handbook will be in letterboxes across the region as NZ Post begins one of its biggest mail-outs.

The mail is all ready to go, held at mail centres across the country - and, in Wanganui's case, that means stacked up in the Palmerston North mail centre.

Wanganui electoral officer Noeline Moosman says delivery starts today and should be completed early next week.


Voters will get individual envelopes including voting papers for the Wanganui District Council, Whanganui District Health Board (WDHB) and Horizons Regional Council.

They will also get a guidebook and a prepaid envelope to return their completed voting papers to the Wanganui electoral office.

No voting can take place until the papers are delivered.

"It's totally embargoed until [today] and cannot be released any earlier," Mrs Moosman said.

Once delivery is complete, voters have three weeks to make their choices.

"But they have to remember that their vote has to be returned before midday on Saturday, October 12," she said.

In Wanganui, voters will be asked to choose a mayor and 12 councillors for the district council, seven representatives to serve on the WDHB as well as two local representatives to the regional council.

Voters will also need to be aware that there are two distinct voting systems they will have to use.

While the election for the district council uses the first past the post (FPP) system, the district health board election uses the single transferable vote (STV) system.

The FPP system for the district council means electors must vote by indicating their preferred candidate with a tick. They must not tick more than the number of places to be filled.

The candidate receiving the most votes is declared the winner, regardless of the proportion of votes they obtained.

With STV for the health board, voters rank the candidates in order of preference by putting the numeral 1 next to the name of the candidate most preferred, 2 next to the name of the next preferred, and so on.

When votes are counted, all first preferences will be allocated first. To be elected, a candidate must reach a "quota" of votes that is based on the number of vacancies and the number of valid votes.

Papers returned to the Wanganui electoral office are able to be opened and processed during the voting period before midday on October 12.

That process is only to check for informal or duplicate votes, and to electronically capture valid votes. Votes will not be tallied until after midday on October 12, and preliminary results should be available by 5pm on that day.