Christchurch councillor Sara Templeton 'relieved' Young Nat troll has come forward after targeted harassment

A Christchurch councillor who was the target of online trolling says she's "relieved" one person involved has come forward and she can "start moving on".

Two Young Nats resigned from the National Party on Thursday amid allegations of online trolling against female politicians.

In a statement on Thursday afternoon, National Party president Peter Goodfellow confirmed the party had looked into allegations raised about a fake social media account targeting politicians, including Labour MP Megan Woods and Christchurch councillor Sara Templeton.

It comes after the IP address associated with the fake social media account was linked to Young Nat Bryce Beattie's house.

Stuff, which first published the story about the link between the account and Beattie's house, reported on Thursday afternoon that Young Nat Jessee MacKenzie was behind the online activity and had apologised. Mackenzie has now resigned from the National Party.

He said Beattie - his flatmate - had nothing to do with it and that his actions came after a difficult break-up.

"I directed my energy the wrong way in the hopes of feeling better," Mackenzie told Stuff. "I've taken steps to seek help. While. I know this is no excuse I just wanted to add some insight into my thought process during the time."

National Party deputy leader Nicola Willis didn't mince her words on the matter.

"If you have to make up an identity and hide your name and face before you make a comment on social media, don't do it," she said.

Templeton reached boiling point over the online harassment and engaged the help of online safety organisation Netsafe to help track down her troll.

She said she's relieved and "really pleased" MacKenzie has come forward.

"It's great to have an admission and I'm really open to the next steps, maybe a restorative justice process," Templeton told The Project on Thursday. "I'm not after any sort of witch hunt. "My key thing is to actually draw attention to the issues as a whole to deter people from doing it and to let women know that you can go through this process. It's free to go through and you don't need a lawyer."

Sara Templeton.
Sara Templeton. Photo credit: The Project

When the online abuse started, it was full-on for about three weeks, she said. While it started off with basic trolling, it soon moved to "some really targeted harassment".

"One of the hardest things is to admit actually that it hurts and it does have an impact.

"We're all taught to have a stiff upper lip and ignore it all but I was losing sleep, missed some meetings, was distracted in others, ended up with some counselling. It's not easy."

She approached Netsafe, who talked her through the process and summarised all the information she gave them, which included the many screenshots she had collected. From there, it went to the district court.

Facebook sent the district court the IP address associated with the profile and the court then ordered the telecommunications company linked to that address to release the details of the account holder.

When asked what she would say to young women wanting to get into politics who are worried about trolling, Templeton said it shouldn't be a deterrent.

"It's a worthwhile thing to do, standing for office and you can't let them win, we can't let our voices be silenced."

Watch her full interview above.