Former pig mask-wearing cop makes Gisborne council, breaches campaign rules

By Contributor

Daniel "Teddy" Thompson has been elected as the eighth and final councillor on the Tairāwhiti general ward. Photo / Gisborne Herald

By Matthew Rosenberg, Local Democracy reporter

A former police officer who wore a pig mask while on duty has made it on to Gisborne District Council after waiting nearly a week for confirmation.

On Friday evening, final results revealed Daniel "Teddy" Thompson had secured the eighth and final position on the Tairāwhiti general ward.

However, Thompson - the self-proclaimed "King of Gizzy" - breached campaign rules in the process.

On Monday morning, one of his campaign signs could be seen in the window of a downtown shop, even though strict election rules required all advertising material to be removed by midnight of last Friday.

The rules are "monitored and enforced" by the council, according to election information available on its website, but the organisation decided to let Thompson off.

"Given there is no infringement fee for non-compliance with this by-law, the council will not be taking court action."

Thompson was approached for comment by Local Democracy Reporting and said he'd tried to get in touch with the shop owner on Monday.

All 24 of his signs around the city and Wainui area had been taken down on Friday afternoon with the help of his daughters, he said, and the sign at the shop was gone by the time he visited early Monday afternoon.

Controversy surrounded Thompson last month when sources told Local Democracy Reporting he wore a pig mask while driving a marked patrol car about 20 years ago.

Approached for comment over the incident, Thompson - who based part of his campaign on the fact he worked for the police - said the allegations were "rumours", and was confident he would get in because he was well-known in Gisborne.

His prediction proved right, when votes counted on Sunday elevated Thompson from tenth to eighth position on the general ward, pushing out Charlie Reynolds who had already been told by the council that he had secured a seat.

The council confirmed its final results on Friday evening, with Thompson holding on by 47 votes over ninth place Meredith Akuhata-Brown.

Following preliminary results, Thompson told the Gisborne Herald he thought his friends were playing a joke on him about being elected.

He did not think media attention over the pig mask incident had affected his chances because it was "mainly older people who read the newspaper".

Voter turnout was down this election in Tairāwhiti, with 42.6 percent of eligible voters handing in their papers compared to 50.1 percent in 2019.

Local Democracy Reporting is Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air

Local Democracy Reporting is Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air