One-vote Mauke win will stand, Cook Islands court decides

Justice Dame Judith Potter. Picture: COOK ISLAND NEWS

RAROTONGA, 31 AUGUST 2018 (COOK ISLANDS NEWS) —-The cliffhanger general election result in Mauke, which saw the Cook Islands Party’s Tai Tura win the seat by one vote, will stand, the High Court has decided.

Justice Dame Judith Potter released her judgement regarding an electoral petition lodged by One Cook Islands Party candidate Tungane Williams, declaring that Williams’ vote had been correctly disallowed.

A cross-petition was granted however, and the vote of Tuapikepike Hickey in the Mauke constituency was disallowed.

“The Court hereby determines that the first respondent, Tai Tura of Mauke, is the duly elected candidate for the Constituency of Mauke and so certifies to the Chief Electoral Officer,” Justice Potter said.

The announcement comes more than two months after the general election, held on June 14. Justice Potter said the reasons for her judgement would follow, but no specific timeframe for its release was mentioned. The hearing was held on August 24.

Williams filed the petition against Tura, chief electoral officer Taggy Tangimetua and the returning officer. Williams also earlier applied for a recount of votes, which resulted in no change in the result.

On election night Tura won 68 votes, with Williams gaining 67. Still to be announced are the results of electoral petitions involving Murienua and Mauke. The Murienua petition, filed by James Beer of Democratic Party, was heard last Monday.

It involves works carried out in the Murienua constituency from April 14 until the week before the election date, for which Beer alleges no authority was provided.

The seat was won by the CIP’s Patrick Arioka.

Meanwhile, there has been considerable speculation around the likely outcome of the Rakahanga petition, filed by Democratic Party leader Tina Browne.

In her petition against Cook Islands Party (CIP) candidate Toka Hagai, who won the seat in the June 14 election, Browne alleged that during a meeting with the voters at Hagai’s residence on June 12, caretaker prime minister Henry Puna declared that June 14 and 15 would be public holidays on Rakahanga.

In her petition, Browne alleged one significant purpose for the declaration of a public holiday by Puna was political – to procure the election of Hagai.

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