Grant seeks mayoralty

By Janna Sherman
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Hokitika business owner Jacquie Grant is making a tilt at the mayoralty, but has already been thwarted by her immigration status.
Originally from Melbourne, Ms Grant has been in New Zealand since 1962 but is not a New Zealand citizen — a legal requirement for everyone standing for public office.
Despite more than 50 years in the country, a New Zealand Order of Merit and previous involvement with local government, her lack of citizenship status could stall her mayoral nomination, which must be in by next Friday’s deadline.
Ms Grant told the Guardian yesterday she had filed the paperwork recently after finding it was an election requirement and claimed things were on track for a citizenship ceremony before the August 16 deadline.
Outgoing Mayor Maureen Pugh said Internal Affairs required the date when the citizenship ceremony took place in order to complete the certificate.
Citizenship ceremonies were not typically held for one person, but they had been working to fast-track the process in this
instance.
“In order for Jacquie to be confident that the citizenship ceremony can take place I have agreed to make myself available to do it for her before the deadline,” Mrs Pugh
said.
Westland electoral officer Richard Simpson said changes to the Local Electoral Act in 2002 made it a firm requirement that candidates must have New Zealand citizenship. Prior to that it was less strict, and being on the electoral roll was
enough.
Grey District Mayor Tony Kokshoorn was stunned by the news yesterday that Ms Grant had served two terms on the Grey District Council, prior to moving to Hokitika, without being a legal New Zealand citizen.
“I am actually extremely surprised by this. I was on the Grey District Council with Jacquie and there has obviously been a technical issue somewhere for it to slip under the radar. It comes as a real surprise.”
However, Ms Grant, who also receives New Zealand Superannuation, said yesterday it had never been an issue and was never in the declaration she had signed during her time on the Grey council. She was elected in a 1998 by-election and then completed a further two terms.
Ms Grant said she was standing for the Westland mayoralty on a base of “life skills and business acumen, as well as lifetime interest in local body political processes and many lessons learned at the University of Hard Knocks”.
Her portfolio includes: restaurateur, poultry and rabbit farmer, dairy farmer, zoo curator, holiday park operator and retail owner and operator.
She was recognised for her community service in the Queen’s Honours in 1997, when she was given the title MNZM.
“My community involvement has spanned over 32 years and has involved me fostering and raising around 76 foster children, many whom are still my whanau today,” she said. “Christmas can be a hectic time at my house.”
Ms Grant was also appointed as a member of the Human Rights Review Tribunal for nine years, sitting on the bench of of the High Court. Two cases eventually made case law. She is also the current community representative of the benefit review panel for Work and Income.
She has stood as a Westland candidate before, unsuccessfully, and in the last triennial elections, in 2010, garnered a total of 421 votes, finishing fifth out of eight candidates for the Hokitika
ward.