Record number of new mayors, young people, women elected to NZ local bodies

Voters have elected a record number of new mayors, young people and women to local bodies in the 2019 local government elections.

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The capital’s new mayor is already having conversations with regional mayors on changing Wellington’s transport proposal. Source: 1 NEWS

The largest number of new mayors in 30 years has been elected, with 26 set to don mayoral chains for the first time later this month.

A preliminary count reveals the number of elected members aged under 40 has increased by at least a third.  

In particular, the cohort under 30 has doubled.  

At 18, the youngest is School Strike 4 Climate Organiser and now Kāpiti Coast District Councillor, Sophie Handford, while Rotorua Lakes and Nelson City voters have each elected a 19-year-old representative on their councils - Fisher Wang and Rohan O'Neill-Stevens.

Local Government New Zealand says early analysis has also revealed an increase in under forties on rural and regional councils, reflecting increased youth concern around environmental issues and climate change.

The number of women in local government appears to be up, but will need to be confirmed once all members are sworn in, LGNZ says.  

However, the number of women winning mayoralties has increased to 20, up from 13 at the last election.

Standout areas for women on council include the Hawke’s Bay region, where four out of five mayors are women, the East Coast, where three of the five councils have new female mayors and Wellington City Council where 64 per cent of elected members are women.  Currently, 38 per cent of elected members are women.  

The average voter turnout at territorial authorities across the country was 48.3 per cent.  

Councils with the highest voter turnout were: 

1. Chatham Islands Council  - 68.8 per cent
2. Westland District Council - 63.90 per cent
3. Grey District Council - 63.1 per cent
4. Kaikoura District Council - 61.3 per cent
5. Mackenzie District Council - 60.5 per cent