Shane Jones stops putting up billboards in Kerikeri after council admits error in allowing it

Northland MP Matt King (left) accused his New Zealand First opponent of putting up "illegal" billboards in Kerikeri.
Northland MP Matt King (left) accused his New Zealand First opponent of putting up "illegal" billboards in Kerikeri. Photo credit: Facebook / Supplied

Shane Jones will temporarily cease putting up billboards in Kerikeri now that the local council has admitted there are rules against it after previously saying there wasn't. 

National MP Matt King, the current MP for Northland, accused his New Zealand First opponent earlier this week of putting up "illegal" election advertising in Kerikeri.

King argued the 'Jones for Jobs' billboards broke the Electoral Commission's rules that election hoardings cannot be put up until July 18.

The Electoral Commission had a different take, explaining how it's fine for hoardings to be up before July 18 if the local council allows it.

"Election advertising may be published at any time, except on election day. This means election hoardings can be put up at any time, subject to the rules the local council has in place."

Newshub went to the Far North District Council - the authority overseeing the town of Kerikeri - and CEO Shaun Clarke said there were no rules against it. 

"There are no active bylaws or policies which would restrict early hoardings on private land in the Far North District."

But Clarke has contacted Newshub to say he got it wrong and that there is a rule stating election signs can be erected "no sooner than 8 weeks prior to, and then removed no later than the close of day before polling day".

Jones said he plans to dispute it but described it as a "petty issue".

He told Newshub King had "nothing better" to campaign on. 

He said some of the billboards have already blown away but will suspend putting up any further signs until July 18 or when the dispute is settled.

King agreed that the issue is "not a biggie" and said he never laid an official complaint against the billboards. But he said he spoke out against Jones' billboards because he would have put up his own if the rules had allowed it.

"He's using it to have a go at me," he told Newshub. 

Otago University Law Professor Andrew Geddis confirmed there is no nationwide law to say you can only put up election billboards in a specified period before the election.

Outside of that period it's up to local councils.

"If the CEO doesn't know his own bylaws, that's a worry," Geddis said.