Boundary change trips residents

MATT RILKOFF
Last updated 05:00 24/07/2014

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Two months out from election day electorate boundary changes have left Opunake residents foggy on just who they get to vote for.

The coastal Taranaki town used to be on the periphery of the Whanganui electorate and they had National's Chester Borrows as their MP.

But boundary changes for the September 20 election will see it switch to the periphery of the New Plymouth electorate, currently represented by National's Jonathan Young.

Penny Decleene of Penny's Coastal Cafe was yesterday confident that she would be voting for Borrows again in this election and was surprised this was no longer an option for Opunake residents.

"I am not happy about that. I haven't heard that," she said, adding she was sure few of her customers had either.

There was a similar response next door at RD1 where manager Carol Dodunski said she had not heard about the switch and it had not been a talking point with customers.

"Everyone is too busy farming anyway. Everyone is doing the calves at the moment" she said.

However not everyone was so busy that they hadn't noticed Borrows showing Young around town last week with several people telling the Taranaki Daily News the pair had been popping in and out of shops on the main street.

One of those was the owner of Fish, Chips and More, Bill Hayward, who was one Opunake resident well aware of the boundary change.

"Didn't it happen on April 1? I thought it was a joke," he said.

"But I don't think it has been well publicised."

Hayward said Borrows was a popular MP in the town and he would have voted for him again if he had the chance.

"I don't know if I will be voting Jonathan though," he said.

The issue of electoral boundaries does give rise to some passions. The Daily News' decision to visit the town yesterday was precipitated by an anonymous tipoff that Borrows was putting up his election signs in and around Opunake, despite not standing there this time around.

Borrows yesterday said he had indeed put a sign up on the southern side of the Waiau river, his new northern boundary, just outside of Opunake town.

A quick search of Opunake did not find any other signs for Borrows, though neither did it yield signs for Young and Labour's Andrew Little, two of the men who will be fighting for the seat. That being said, the deadline for registered political parties to nominate their electorate candidates is still one month away.

All three Taranaki electorates have had boundary changes for this election to ensure they meet their population quota to 2017.

Electoral candidates are able to advertise wherever they want, including neighbouring electorates, as long as they abide by local council signage rules.

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- Taranaki Daily News

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