Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher. PHOTO: GUS PATTERSON

Re-elected Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher says the district is “spoilt with good-quality” councillors making up the four wards of the Waitaki District Council.

“There is good diversity of people and opinions, which is great for democracy,” Mr Kircher said.

In Waihemo, Peter Newton (448) defeated the incumbent Jan Wheeler (369), while in Corriedale, Bill Kingan (1053) and Guy Percival (901) held on to their seats.

In Ahuriri, Ross McRobie was elected unopposed and in Oamaru, after two long-serving councillors stood down at the end of the last term, the remaining four incumbents held on to their seats despite what Mr Kircher called the best field of candidates he had seen in at least the past half-dozen elections.

Melanie Tavendale (4220) again topped the polls, followed by Colin Wollstein (2902), Jeremy Holding (2844), newcomer Kelli Milmine (2685), Jim Hopkins (2653) and the other newcomer, Hana Halalele (2543).

And Mr Kircher says he has a mandate “to move forward” after taking two-thirds of all votes cast for mayor.

The focus for the next term was to finish off projects the council had started and get some new ones under way, Mr Kircher said.

“It is always an evolving mix of activities we are doing. We will get some things finished off and will have started other things.

“In three years’ time I would like to see us well into the fundraising [for an indoor sports stadium] if we do decide to proceed with the project.”

Work on the geopark would continue, as would projects to improve the district’s roading, he said.

Mr Kircher congratulated his challengers, Katrina Hazelhurst (2131) and Paul Mutch (746).

“Between us, I think we gave the public three good options.

“There was good discussion and debate along the way.”

While unsuccessful in getting the top job, Mrs Hazelhurst said she was “very happy” with the support she received.

“Considering it was my first time standing, and obviously the incumbent is well known, and a local boy,” she said.

“I was delighted with the support I received and really grateful for the people that voted for me – it was really touching that I got so much support.”

Getting out and meeting people was one of the best things about the campaign, she said.

“Some people thought that I should have gone for council first. I acknowledge that is a legitimate concern but I don’t know if those people were aware of how often I am at council meetings or involved with council anyway.”

Mrs Hazelhurst said she would wait and see how the newly elected council performed before considering standing again in 2022.

“I may feel in two years’ time that the council is in a much better place than it is now, and I may not feel the need to run.”

Unsuccessful candidate Mr Mutch said he was surprised by the results.

“The district is maybe not as conservative as I thought and people do want to see activity and things happening. But that is the difference between your imagination and reality.

“When you are out and talking to people, you are talking to the people who like your ideas .. the ones who do not, they are not engaging with you.”

Mr Mutch said had “absolutely” enjoyed his time on the campaign trail.

“Having met the people I’ve met, and gone the places I’ve gone, you feel as if you have only lived half a life without knowing what is going on around you.”

He was unsure of his future in politics.

“A lot of things can happen in three years; I really don’t know.”

The voter turnout in Waitaki was 54.39%, being 8595 votes.

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