Preliminary results show Marton-based Coral Raukawa has won the Rangitīkei District Council Southern Ward byelection, with historically low voter turnout.
The council released the preliminary result shortly before 1pm on Tuesday, which showed Raukawa had received 245 votes, or 60.7 per cent of the total vote.
Her only opponent, 24-year-old Cian O'Gorman, received 152 votes, or 37.7 per cent.
Six of the 403 total votes were returned blank, without a vote for either candidate. The final official results are due to be published on Saturday.
Raukawa said she couldn't quite believe the result.
"I'm pretty pleased. I found out about 1pm, so it was very exciting.
"I don't know what to expect. Apparently somebody's going to ring me tomorrow to tell me what happens now and I think the swearing-in ceremony is next week."
Raukawa said she was pleased there was another person in the community who had been willing to put their hand up for the role.
"We both did well just for standing. Anyone who stands is worthy of respect. Good on him."
Rangitīkei mayor Andy Watson said he had passed on his congratulations and commiserations to both candidates, saying they were both decent candidates.
"I congratulate Coral. She has had the advantage of serving on standing committees on council, so she's not a new face and will be brought up to speed very quickly.
"I also passed on my commiserations to Cian. Nationally we are getting a greater degree of interest from younger people, so his candidacy was a great sign."
The byelection was sparked by the resignation of Southern Ward councillor Jane Dunn in November, after she raised concerns about the new Bulls Community Centre.
Raukawa and O'Gorman do not reside in the Southern Ward, but Raukawa's whakapapa is back to the area, while O'Gorman is employed at the Bulls Community Centre.
O'Gorman has been contacted for comment.
Turnout likely lowest in NZ history
With about 90 per cent of the vote counted on Wednesday afternoon, the byelection managed to garner only 403 votes, or 13.66 per cent of all eligible voters.
With the byelection coming at a cost of $19,000, each vote works out at the equivalent of $47.
Electoral officer Warwick Lampp said the turnout figures are likely the lowest in New Zealand history.
"It's really low turnout. It's one of the lowest, if not the lowest, we've had in our council byelections over the years.
"We're doing a report at the moment as to what all of our previous byelection results have been, but I can't recall one below 20 per cent before, ever."
Raukawa said the win felt somewhat bittersweet when she was told of the turnout.
"I felt really miserable when I was told. I thought it was really low," Raukawa said.
"We're talking Bulls, Turakina, Whangaehu. Four hundred votes. It's pretty upsetting."
Watson said he was surprised with the low turnout.
"I thought there may have been more interest from the Southern Ward in terms of this process, to be honest.
"However, the public have had their opportunity."
Watson said the low turnout could be attributable to the lack of campaigning by both candidates.
"From either side of the fence, I'm not sure there was a huge amount of electioneering.
"Sometimes with these processes, one side sees the other doing electioneering and suddenly there's a ratcheting up of interest."
Two other local government byelections, which also closed on Wednesday, recorded significantly higher turnout.
The turnout in the Palmerston North City Council byelection was just over 25 per cent on Wednesday morning, while the Invercargill City Council byelection was slightly below 31 per cent.
At the 2019 local body elections, turnout within the Rangitīkei District sat at 46.8 per cent - higher than the national average of 41.7 per cent.