15 Aug 2016

Candidates' blunders saga continues

5:40 am on 15 August 2016

Auckland Future, which is hoping to take control of the Auckland Council, is taking legal moves today to have two election candidates reinstated after paperwork blunders.

Auckland Future's co-ordinator Sue Wood at last night's campaign launch.

Auckland Future co-ordinator Sue Wood Photo: RNZ / Todd Niall

Two candidates for the National Party-backed group filled out the wrong forms, and a third withdrew after publicity over a past conviction.

Auckland Future co-ordinator Sue Wood told supporters at the campaign launch last night the blame over the two who filled out incorrect forms lay with council staff at the Manukau Service Centre who gave out the wrong paperwork.

Both blunders happened when Auckland Future's Manukau team went in last Thursday, the second-to-last day for nominations for October's local body elections.

One candidate, Viliami Tiseli was accidentally nominated to run against the group's only sitting councillor Denise Krum. Tai'ivao Cruikshank also filled out the wrong form for a local board nomination, and was rejected.

Auckland Councillor Denise Krum at a Council meeting about the Unitary Plan. 10 August 2016.

Denise Krum is Auckland Future's only sitting councillor. Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

Ms Wood, a former National Party president, would not comment on whether someone seeking public office should have noticed they filled in the wrong form. She said the blame lay with the council office.

"I think you'll find, and we have prepared a legal file note, that it was very very chaotic and it was seriously understaffed," she told RNZ.

Auckland Council electoral officer Dale Ofsoske was looking into the complaint, but Otago University law professor Andrew Geddis did not rate the Auckland Future's chances of having the change made.

"The local electoral act puts the onus on candidates to make sure that they're signing up for the right thing," he told RNZ.

"The role of electoral officials is really simply to receive the forms that the candidates have filled out and that all the requirements of the act have been met."

He said there was no discretion allowed.

A third candidate, Savea Peseta Al Harrington Lavea, withdrew late yesterday after media reports of a past conviction for using the identity of dead infants to obtain fake passports.

In the case of Mr Lavea, Mrs Wood did not consider his past a political risk when he was selected to run for the Whau local board.

"I was aware of his conviction, and that it was 20 years ago, I was also aware - and remember it was not just me but a selection panel - of the huge contribution he's made to his community and the high regard in which he's held," she said.

In a statement, Mr Lavea said he had made a mistake 20 years ago, and had paid for it. However he decided for the sake of Auckland Future and its candidates not to continue.

Auckland Council acknowledged other problems following the publication of nominations on Friday night.

Dale Ofsoske said 25 names correctly lodged in the Henderson Service Centre had been left off the original published list, and another Auckland Future nomination in Manukau was also not put on the list.

But there was small consolation for Auckland Future if the bungled nominations could not be rectified.

Mr Tiseli would still be on the ballot paper against Denise Krum in the Maungakiekie Ward, but only Ms Krum would have the Auckland Future affiliation next to her name.

Ms Wood said Auckland Council had agreed Auckland Future's confirmation of Mr Tiseli's affiliation applied only to his local board nomination, not to his accidental ward nomination.

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