Businessman Karl Tiefenbacher provisionally defeats Green Party candidate Geordie Rogers in crucial Wellington by-election

  • 17/02/2024
Gelato chain owner Karl Tiefenbacher.
Gelato chain owner Karl Tiefenbacher. Photo credit: Karl Tiefenbacher

A businessman and self-described centrist has provisionally defeated Green Party candidate Geordie Rogers in a crucial Wellington by-election.

The seat in Wellington City Council's Pukehīnau/Lambton ward was vacated by former councillor Tamatha Paul, elected to Parliament last year for the Green Party.

And it puts the spotlight on an upcoming council vote which will decide Wellington's housing future.

The contest for the seat saw a fierce battle between the two main candidates - gelato chain owner Karl Tiefenbacher and Rogers, the president of advocacy group Renters United.

On Saturday Tiefenbacher was declared the provisional winner, ahead by by 621 - although today's votes and about 650 special votes are yet to be counted. The final election result will be formally declared by next Wednesday.

Rogers ran on a platform of investing in healthy and affordable housing, alongside accessible public and active transport.

"I will push for stronger climate action and resilient infrastructure and I will deliver for young people, renters, families, workers, and our future neighbours by investing in water, transport and energy infrastructure fit for the future," his candidate information stated.

Tiefenbacher's candidate statement said he wanted council decisions to be "sensible, cost-effective, and aimed at the things that will take our city forward".

"I want Council to focus on managing infrastructure, restoring vibrancy to the city, and (importantly) spending our rates prudently," he added.

The by-election result comes after an independent hearings panel released controversially restrictive recommendations for Wellington's new District Plan.

Wellington City Council will meet on Thursday, March 14 to make decisions on these recommendations - and Tiefenbacher could now be a key decider in whether councillors can form a majority to reject the recommendations and vote for increased housing.

Any recommendations that the council rejects or amends will need to go to the Minister for the Environment for a final decision.