Te-Hani Brown registered a landslide victory in the Atiu by-election yesterday.
The 24-year-old independent candidate managed 92 votes after the preliminary count, to claim the Tengatangi-Areora-Ngatiarua seat for the third time in a span of 16 months.
Her opponent June Baudinet, 74, of the Democratic Party managed only 32 votes.
Baudinet was gracious in defeat, though she admitted she had expected more votes.
“There were a lot of people who said they would vote for me but the result didn’t reflect that,” she said. “I guess some of the people who said they would support me and my project for the island voted the other way.”
Baudinet said “she knew what she was up against” and tried her best to get the majority support during her campaign.
She said the loss had not deterred her from continuing to help her supporters on the island.
Te-Hani Brown’s win has come as welcome news for the Cook Islands Party-led coalition government which will now be able to strengthen its majority in Parliament.
Deputy Prime Minister Mark Brown, in congratulating Te-Hani on her “tremendous win”, welcomed her to the government team.
He said winning three elections in the space of 16 months plus a court petition was a massive endorsement of Te-Hani as the people’s choice in Parliament.
“It is also a huge endorsement of the government of the day,” the deputy prime minister added.
“Let’s now put politics aside and wish Mama June all the best for her future. But we are so happy that the people have elected someone who represents our future.”
Chief electoral officer Taggy Tangimetua said the by-election, which had 132 registered voters, ran smoothly without any hiccups during the day.
“We have four votes by declaration to be considered for inclusion in the final count. We will issue the public notice after the final count on Monday.”
Te-Hani first won the seat in the 2018 general election in June last year. She stood under the banner of the Democratic Party and defeated veteran politician and former seat holder Nandi Glassie, who entered the election as the Cook Islands Party candidate.
In January this year, Te-Hani defected to the government to provide them with a majority to remain in power.
She subsequently resigned and stood as an Independent candidate in the March by-election against Glassie, who then contested under the Democratic Party banner.
Te-Hani retained the seat but resigned after a petition was filed by Glassie against her win. The petition was unsuccessful.