Some councillors prove eligibility, others stay silent
Auckland Council is unconcerned about the growing scrutiny over councillors’ eligibility to hold office.
Last week, Whangarei District councillor Jayne Golightly revealed she was not a New Zealand citizen, forcing her to resign and putting the citizenship of other councils’ staff under the microscope.
Stuff contacted all 20 councillors in Auckland and asked them about their own eligibility - and to provide proof of their citizenship. Nine responded.
Councillors Daniel Newman, Desley Simpson, Bill Cashmore, Sharon Stewart, Chris Darby, Cathy Casey, Linda Cooper, Dick Quax and Penny Hulse provided copies of either their passports, birth certificates or nomination forms.
Government requirements stated that in order to be a councillor, one must be both a New Zealand citizen and enrolled as a Parliamentary elector - which also means being 18 or older.
However, despite more than half of its councillors choosing not to respond to the inquiry, Auckland Council were not ready to hit the panic button. General manager democracy services Marguerite Delbet said council would not look internally at citizenship, electing to trust the information they were provided with.
‘‘When a candidate lodges his/ her nomination for an election, it is done on an official, prescribed nomination paper,’’ Delbet said.
‘‘The candidate is required to consent to be nominated and to certify that they are qualified to be a candidate. Certifying they are qualified is done by ticking two check boxes, and then signing the nomination paper.’’
The council’s electoral officer then checked each paper to ensure both criteria (NZ citizen and Parliamentary elector) were ticked and accepted the information contained on the paper as correct, she said.
In the case of Whanagarei Councillor Golightly, she had con- sented or her nomination paper that she was both a Parliamentary elector and a citizen.
‘‘I’m not aware of any other instances such as this occurring in my more than 30 years conducting local government elections,’’ Election Services New Zealand managing director Dale Ofsoske said.
Ward councillor for Waitakere Penny Hulse said she was born in South Africa but was now a New Zealand citizen.