Wellington City mayoral election, 2016

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Wellington City mayoral election, 2016
Wellington COA.gif
← 2013 8 October 2016 2019 →
Turnout 45.57%

  Justin Lester.jpg Nick Leggett.png No image.png
Candidate Justin Lester Nick Leggett Jo Coughlan
Party Labour Independent Independent
Popular vote 31,921 24,697 15,844
Percentage 56.37
(Last iteration)
(Last iteration)

Mayor before election

Celia Wade-Brown

Elected mayor

Justin Lester

The 2016 Wellington City mayoral election was part of the New Zealand local elections and was held on 8 October to determine the next Mayor of Wellington City. The incumbent was Celia Wade-Brown, who was first elected in the 2010 mayoral election. Wade-Brown did not seek re-election. Her title was pursued by her deputy, Justin Lester, councillors Jo Coughlan, Andy Foster, Helene Ritchie and Nicola Young, former mayor of Porirua City Nick Leggett and independent candidates Keith Johnson and Johnny Overton.

Lester won the election becoming the 35th Mayor of Wellington, Leggett came second and Coughlan third.[1]


Wade-Brown decided against standing for a third term as mayor. However, eight other candidates sought her position.[2][3]


Jo Coughlan

Coughlan was first elected as Councillor for the Onslow-Western ward in 2007.[4] Previously, Coughlan gave serious consideration to running for Mayor in the 2013 election.[5] Coughlan currently chairs the Council Economic Growth and Arts Committee and is a member of other committees, including the Environment and Community, Sports and Recreation Committees. She ran as an independent candidate, but was a press secretary for Sir Don McKinnon (National) while he was serving as the Minister of Foreign Affairs. She is the sister-in-law of then Deputy Prime Minister, Bill English.[4]


Andy Foster

Veteran councillor Andy Foster, the council's current Transport and Urban Development Committee Chairman, has been serving the Wellington City Council for well over two decades. He also sought re-election as a councillor in the Onslow-Western Ward.[9]

Keith Johnson

Dr Keith Johnson, an economic policy analyst and blogger from Island Bay,[10] announced his candidacy in April 2016.[11] Johnson ran for the Southern Ward in 2010 with the Labour Party alongside Paul Eagle and in 2013 proposed to stand for mayor.[12] He subsequently withdrew, saying that "There was not much resonance in the concerns I had for debt control and against the rebalancing of rates".[13]

Nick Leggett

Leggett has been the mayor of Porirua City since 2010. In March 2016, he announced he would not stand in the upcoming local body elections, hinting at running in the election for mayor in Wellington City.[14] In April, Leggett resigned from the Labour Party and confirmed his intention to stand.[15] Central to his launch campaign speech was a desire to put an end to the "bickering" and "palace politics" holding the Wellington City Council back, resolve transport issues including supporting twin tunnels to the airport and to facilitate (not fund) a new Sports Museum and Virtual Reality Centre for Wellington.[16]


Justin Lester

Lester was first elected as a Wellington City Councillor in 2010.[18] When mayors were given the ability to choose their deputy without involving councillors after the 2013 election, Wade-Brown chose Lester.[2] Lester ran on a Labour Party ticket.[18] He went on to win the election.


Johnny Overton
Johnny Overton speaking at a debate.

Overton, representing the 'Localisation Party', announced his candidacy in early August 2016. He is a fringe dwelling guerrilla gardener, artist & political activist.[21] In the 2014 general election he contested the seat of Rongotai for the 'Peoples Revolutionary Front', finishing in last place with 0.12% of the vote.[22]

Helene Ritchie

Helene Ritchie announced her candidacy for the mayoralty, her 11th term as councillor and a position on the District Health Board on 15 July, the day nominations for local elections opened.[23] Days before the nominations closed, Ritchie opted to campaign only for the mayoralty, withdrawing from all other contests except for the Capital and Coast DHB.[24] She previously served as Deputy Mayor and leader of the Labour caucus on council.

Nicola Young

Young was first elected in 2013. She originally stood for the city council only, but then also nominated herself for the mayoralty.[25] Of the six mayoral candidates, she came fourth.[26] Young is an Independent councillor; she formerly stood for the National Party in the 2005 general election in Wellington's Rongotai electorate. Her father was the former cabinet minister Bill Young, and she is the sister of former National list MP Annabel Young.[2][27]


Celia Wade-Brown

Wade-Brown was first elected as a Wellington City Councillor in 1994 and apart from a three-year break served on council until she was elected mayor in the 2010 election.[28] Whilst she has always stood as an independent during her mayoralty, she is generally associated with the Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand, and The Dominion Post commented that "everything about her shouts 'Green'".[2] On 5 August, Wade-Brown pulled out of the race.[29] Wade-Brown announced her endorsement of Justin Lester as her preferred successor on 2 September.[20]

Opinion polling[edit]

Several polls were conducted indicating a tight race with Justin Lester, Jo Coughlan and Nick Leggett polling the strongest.[30]

Preference Jo
Other /
8–10 September 2016 559 First 17.5% 1.4% 17.4% 34.5% 3.5% 4.2% 16.3%
Second 19% 14.4% 17.4% 13.1% 8% 3.9% 21.1%
11–14 September 2016 500 First 11.1% 1.1% 0.7% 19.2% 19.6% 0.% 1% 3.5% 43.8%
Second 12% 2% 1% 13% 12% 1% 0% 5% 54%


Wellington City mayoral election, 2016[31]
Party Candidate % 1st Pref Count 1 Count 2 Count 3 Count 4 Count 5 Count 6 Count 7
Labour Justin Lester 36.7 23,751 23,884 24,092 24,887 26,418 27,674 31,921
Independent Nick Leggett 25.5 16,528 16,584 16,709 17,011 17,598 18,667 24,697
Independent Jo Coughlan 20.4 13,203 13,233 13,347 13,602 14,190 15,844  
Independent Nicola Young 6.6 4,303 4,367 4,598 5,104 5,532    
Independent Andy Foster 4.8 3,125 3,168 3,304 3,718      
Independent Helene Ritchie 3.7 2,439 2,538 2,733        
Independent Keith Johnson 1.8 1,083 1,190          
Independent Johnny Overton 0.9 620            
Electorate:     Valid: 64,656   Spoilt: 511   Quota:     Turnout: 45.56%

Ward results[edit]

Candidates were also elected from wards to the Wellington City Council.

Party/ticket Councillors
Independent 8
Labour 3
Greens 3


  1. ^ "Election 2016: Progress results for the Mayor". Wellington City Council. 8 October 2016. Retrieved 8 October 2016. 
  2. ^ a b c d Hubbard, Anthony (7 November 2015). "Contenders line up for 2016 Wellington mayoral race". The Dominion Post. Retrieved 9 March 2016. 
  3. ^ Michael Forbes (11 June 2016). "Who wants to be Wellington's mayor?". Dominion Post (Wellington). Stuff.co.nz. Retrieved 11 June 2016. 
  4. ^ a b Forbes, Michael (2 April 2016). "Councillor Jo Coughlan enters the race to be Wellington's mayor". Stuff. Retrieved 4 April 2016. 
  5. ^ Chapman, Katie (6 March 2013). "Concert promoter considers mayoralty bid". Stuff. Retrieved 4 April 2016. 
  6. ^ "Kerry Prendergast endorses Mayoral Candidate Jo Coughlan". Scoop.co.nz. 6 August 2016. Retrieved 3 June 2018. 
  7. ^ "Fran Wilde endorses Mayoral candidate Jo Coughlan". Scoop.co.nz. 30 August 2016. Retrieved 3 June 2018. 
  8. ^ "Jack Yan endorses Jo Coughlan for Wellington mayoral race". Scoop.co.nz. 24 August 2016. Retrieved 3 June 2018. 
  9. ^ Michael Forbes (20 July 2016). "Wellington mayoral contest heats up as councillor Andy Foster joins the race". Dominion Post. Stuff.co.nz. Retrieved 20 July 2016. 
  10. ^ "Fifth mayoral candidate – Keith Johnson opposes big spending, runway subsidy". 3 April 2016. Retrieved 14 August 2016. 
  11. ^ "Six in race to be Wellington's mayor". Radio NZ. 11 April 2016. Retrieved 30 April 2016. 
  12. ^ Chapman, Katie (1 May 2013). "Promoter rules himself out of mayoral race". The Dominion Post. Retrieved 28 July 2013. 
  13. ^ "Johnson out". Dominion Post. 8 August 2013. p. A3. 
  14. ^ "Nick Leggett stands down as Porirua mayor". Dominion Post. 16 March 2016. Retrieved 30 April 2016. 
  15. ^ "Capital 'stalled at the lights', says Nick Leggett as he launches mayoralty bid". Dominion Post. 10 April 2016. Retrieved 30 April 2016. 
  16. ^ "Nick Leggett wants sports museum and 'virtual reality complex' in Wellington". Stuff.co.nz. 2016-07-06. Retrieved 2016-07-24. 
  17. ^ "Former Wellington mayor Mark Blumsky endorses Nick Leggett". Scoop.co.nz. 22 September 2016. Retrieved 3 June 2018. 
  18. ^ a b "Wellington deputy Justin Lester runs against incumbent Mayor Celia Wade-Brown". The Dominion Post. 3 December 2015. Retrieved 9 March 2016. 
  19. ^ Watkins, Tracey (9 August 2016). "Ankle tap or leg up? Why Andrew Little's assault on Leggett might backfire". Stuff.co.nz. Retrieved 3 June 2018. 
  20. ^ a b Michael, Forbes (2 September 2016). "Celia's choice: Wade-Brown delivers frank assessment of capital's mayoral contenders". Stuff.co.nz. Retrieved 4 September 2016. 
  21. ^ Matt Stewart (5 August 2016). "Johnny Overton enters mayoralty race on Localisation Party ticket". Dominion Post. Stuff.co.nz. Retrieved 5 August 2016. 
  22. ^ "Official Count Results -- Rongotai (2014)". Electoral Commission. 10 October 2014. Retrieved 2 August 2016. 
  23. ^ Joel Maxwell (15 June 2016). "Councillor announces run for Wellington mayoralty as nominations open". Dominion Post. Retrieved 16 June 2016. 
  24. ^ Lucy Swinnen (9 August 2016). "Mayoral candidate Helene Ritchie has declared she has no Plan B as she goes all in for Mayor". Dominion Post. Stuff.co.nz. Retrieved 15 August 2016. 
  25. ^ Cleland, Johanna (9 October 2013). "Young answers the call because politics runs in her blood". Newswire.co.nz. Whitireia New Zealand. Retrieved 9 March 2016. 
  26. ^ Inggs, Charlie (16 October 2013). "2013 Triennial Election: declaration of results" (PDF). Wellington City Council. Retrieved 10 March 2016. 
  27. ^ Orsman, Bernard (15 September 2005). "The candidates who stand to lose". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 9 March 2016. 
  28. ^ "New mayor for Wellington". The Dominion Post. 13 October 2010. Retrieved 13 October 2010. 
  29. ^ Michael, Forbes; Livingston, Tommy; Dooney, Laura (5 August 2016). "Wellington mayor Celia Wade-Brown pulls out of mayoral race". Stuff.co.nz. Retrieved 5 August 2016. 
  30. ^ Michael, Forbes (15 September 2016). "Polls predict tight race to be Wellington's next mayor". Stuff.co.nz. Retrieved 20 September 2016. 
  31. ^ "Election 2016: Preliminary results for the Mayor". Wellington City Council. Retrieved 10 October 2016. 

External links[edit]