Some councillors provide proof of NZ citizenship
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. So far, nine have 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 state 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 eligibility inquiry, Auckland Council was not ready to hit the panic button.
General manager democracy services Marguerite Delbet said council would not look at staff citizenship, electing to instead trust the information it was provided with at the time members were elected.
‘‘No, we don’t plan on looking into staff citizenship,’’ Delbet said.
When a candidate lodges their nomination for an election, it’s done on an official, prescribed nomination paper.
‘‘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 checked each nomination paper when they were lodged to ensure both criteria (New Zealand citizen and Parliamentary elector) were ticked and accepted the information contained on the paper as correct, she said.
‘‘If it were found that an elected member had certified that they were qualified, but actually did not qualify to be nominated or to be elected or to hold office, they would need to resign.’’
In the case of Whanagarei Councillor Golightly, she had consented or her nomination paper that she was both a Parliamentary elector and a citizen.
‘‘No, we don't plan on looking into staff citizenship’’
Ward councillor for Waitakere Penny Hulse says she was born in South Africa but now a New Zealand citizen.