Hawkins hits ground running

Dunedin's next mayor is already busy, just one day into his new role, but he still has some explaining to do to his 3-year-old son.

Green Party candidate and incumbent councillor Aaron Hawkins (35) was on Saturday elected the city's next mayor, and potentially its youngest ever, replacing outgoing three-term mayor Dave Cull.

He secured 16,492 votes, giving him a 2395-vote margin over closest rival Cr Lee Vandervis, who ended with 14,097 votes.

Cr Andrew Whiley (10,158 votes) finished in third place, followed by Cr Christine Garey (7417 votes), Cr Jim O'Malley (5915 votes) and business coach Jules Radich (4335 votes), among a field of 14 candidates.

The results also saw four new councillors elected - Mr Radich, Carmen Houlahan, Sophie Barker and Steve Walker - to replace Mr Cull and departing councillors Conrad Stedman and Kate Wilson.

Cr Damian Newell failed to win election for a second term.

The results remained provisional but, with only 1365 special votes still to be counted, were not expected to change.

Mr Hawkins said his victory in the mayoral race had left him uncharacteristically "speechless" and humbled by the privilege, and the reality was still sinking in yesterday.

Dunedin Mayor-elect Aaron Hawkins is greeted by his son, Emile, at a victory party in a Dunedin...
Dunedin Mayor-elect Aaron Hawkins is greeted by his son, Emile, at a victory party in a Dunedin cafe on Saturday. PHOTO: CHRISTINE O'CONNOR
He was looking forward to the city continuing "in the positive direction that we've been heading in" in recent years.

"This is a really exciting time for the city but also a very challenging time, and having progressive and capable leadership at the council table is going to be incredibly important in the next few years."

Mr Hawkins hit the ground running yesterday morning, with a series of radio interviews before attending his first event as mayor-elect - the North Dunedin street clean-up held in memory of student Sophia Crestani, who died on October 5.

But, in an interview yesterday, Mr Hawkins told the Otago Daily Times he would take at least a week to decide on some big early calls that needed to be made before the new council's inaugural meeting on October 25.

That included who he preferred as deputy mayor and which councillors he wanted to occupy top committee roles.

Mr Hawkins said he did not expect radical change for council committee structures, but he wanted a deputy mayor who "shares the same values and aspirations for the city and for our community".

That could point to Cr Garey, who came fourth in the mayoral race but - like Mr Hawkins - had been endorsed by Mr Cull as possessing "the right style of leadership".

Mr Hawkins would not be drawn on that yesterday, saying he was yet to have such discussions with anyone.

He planned to contact councillors over the next few days to discuss their hopes for roles, as well as meeting senior staff, before deciding on appointments.

In the meantime, Mr Hawkins would remain mayor-elect until the inaugural meeting of the new council on October 25.

Mr Cull is officially still the mayor until Friday, when his powers will transfer to DCC chief executive Sue Bidrose until that meeting.

That gave Mr Hawkins time to consider his decisions, but also to explain his new job to his son Emile.

Mr Hawkins was with Emile at Chipmunks, attending a birthday party, when news of his election as mayor came through shortly before 3pm on Saturday.

"I tried to explain to him that it's just like the mayor in Paw Patrol.

"I couldn't compete with a pirate face mask, unfortunately," Mr Hawkins said.

His son and wife Anya Sinclair were also there with him to celebrate at a victory party in a Dunedin cafe on Saturday night.

The confusion continued for the youngest member of the family, but there were signs for hope, he said yesterday.

"On our way home from town [on Saturday night] he did ask me `Dad - what does the council do?'

"That's not an easy question to answer for anyone, let alone a 3-year-old, but I think we're getting there."

Dunedin mayoral results


Aaron Hawkins 16,492
Lee Vandervis 14,097
Andrew Whiley 10,158
Christine Garey 7417
Jim O’Malley 5915
Jules Radich 4335
Carmen Houlahan 2179
Rachel Elder 1472
Bob Barlin 1364
Mandy Mayhem-Bullock 791
Finn Campbell 534
Scout Barbour-Evans 384
Richard Seager 310
Malcolm Moncrief-Spittle 242

*Provisional results with 1365 special votes still to count.



"before attending his first event as mayor-elect - the North Dunedin street clean-up held in memory of student Sophia Crestani, who died on October 5", come on now, this was already organized before he became mayor, all he was doing there was a photo op.

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