'Vicious' crusade beat big spender

Defeated Horowhenua mayoral candidate Anne Hunt was the biggest spender in the district at October's local government elections.

The $14,361 she invested in her campaign to oust returning Mayor Brendan Duffy outstripped what most Palmerston North City Council candidates spent.

In effect, her 2283 votes cost about $5.43 each.

She is blaming a "vicious" campaign in which her relationship with Lake Horowhenua guardian Phil Taueki was used against her for the loss.

Mr Taueki stood for the Waiopehu ward, spent nothing, and came last with 252 votes.

"I had a horrible feeling I was wasting all that money," Ms Hunt said.

"Even trying to convince people to put up signs - they were too scared to be associated with me."

Ms Hunt said she had spent less than she did three years' ago, when an investment just short of the legal maximum $20,000 brought her close to success.

"This time I could not afford quite as much."

To boost her budget, she did receive and declare a couple of donations.

One was from John Owens for $1690 worth of advertising, and the other, which she was not required to declare, but did, was $400 from Palmerston North Motor Machinists managing director Brian Ax.

"I did not want to be accused of doing anything less than was required."

Mr Duffy won the mayoral race comfortably with 6524 votes in response to a $4356 campaign. That was about 66 cents a vote.

The third mayoral contestant, Piri-Hira Tukapua, spent $5070.

The biggest spending council candidate was Ngaire Ellwood, who spent $3141, but lost to Ross Brannigan and Michael Feyen in the Kere Kere Ward.

All of the declarations of electoral donations and expenses are available on the council's website.

Manawatu Standard