Law change may be needed after councillors' tied vote - minister

Nanaia Mahuta says it's puzzling a Whakatāne District Council candidate was sworn in while a judicial recount was being held. - Photo: RNZ / Richard Tindiller

The Local Government Minister is seeking advice from officials after a judicial recount overturned one of the results in the Whakatāne District Council's election.

After the initial vote count, newcomer Hinerangi Goodman and the previous seat-holder Alison Silcock were tied for a councillor position.

Mrs Goodman won the seat after her name was pulled from a hat.

But a judicial recount overturned that decision, and Mrs Silcock was declared the winner by a single vote.

The incident has caused a lot of debate in the Whakatāne district about how fair the process was, with some people calling for change to prevent a similar outcome in the future.

Questions have also been raised as to why the council held its swearing-in ceremony knowing its election results were uncertain.

Mrs Goodman was sworn in at a ceremony on 25 October despite Mrs Silcock lodging a request for a recount of votes the day before in the Whakatāne District Court.

The minister, Nanaia Mahuta, said it seems odd to have a judicial recount after a tie-break selection and the swearing in of a candidate.

She said there may be a need for legislative clarity on such scenarios.