'Passionate community advocate' loses job as Buller councillor after its revealed he's not a NZ citizen

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A Buller district councillor has abruptly lost his job overnight, after it emerged he's not a New Zealand citizen.

Since 2001 most New Zealanders living in Australia haven't been allowed to apply for citizenship.

Source: 1 NEWS

Australian citizen Martin Hill has lost his seat in the Seddon ward and a by-election will now have to be held in the region.

In a statement the Buller District Council said: "Under the Electoral Act 2001 all nominees standing for election must be a NZ citizen. All candidates sign a declaration as part of the process to say they are a NZ citizen but the act does not require this to be checked or verified."

Buller District Mayor Garry Howard told 1 NEWS the situation is "really devastating".

"He's been a passionate community advocate and for advancing the Buller District,” Mr Howard said.

Mr Howard said the by-election will be tricky due to the large area covered by that ward. But he said there was no other option.

"The Council must comply with the Act and… to follow the legal process. I have encouraged Martin to get his citizenship and to stand again."

However, Mr Howard said he has already received some calls from people in the community who are interested in the position. The council now has 89 days to hold the election.

Martin Hill was approached for comment by 1 NEWS, but he said he has just come off a night shift at Stockton Mine and didn't want to comment at this stage.

Whangarei District Council last month declared a by-election for the same reason.

Court action is also underway in Australia after it emerged seven Members of Parliament held dual citizenship.

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