If you want to put up election signs for the general election you need to be aware of the rules.
Local councils regulate election signs in their area
You should talk to your local council before you put up any election signs. Local councils are responsible for regulating when, where, and how election signs can be displayed. There is no fixed date in the Electoral Act when election signs are allowed to go up. Election signs can go up as soon as they are allowed to be displayed in the area you live.
The Local Councils website can show you how to contact local councils.
Council Profiles (localcouncils.govt.nz)
Be aware council rules about election signage can apply to signs on both public and private land.
Election signs on or near state highways
Waka Kotahi must approve general election signs that will be placed on or next to state highways and signs must comply with the Waka Kotahi general election sign guidance. Further information is available here.
What size election signs are allowed?
In the 9 weeks before election day (from Saturday 12 August for the 2023 General Election) the Electoral Act says you can have election signs that are up to 3 square metres in size. This supersedes any council rules about the size of election signs in this period.
This applies wherever you are in New Zealand, but you’ll still need to follow your local council’s application processes and rules about where you can put them up and how many you can have.
Total area = 3 square metres
This for example covers a standard billboard 1.2m x 2.4m.
It is not 3m2 (metres squared) - which would be 3 x 3m and a total of 9 square metres.
Bigger signs can go up, and signs can go up sooner if the council allows this. Talk to your council if you want to have larger signs or put them up earlier.
The lettering of signs larger than 1.5 square metres that are on a road must be:
- 120mm in height if the speed limit is less than 70km per hour
- 160mm in height if the speed limit is more than 70km per hour
These requirements do not apply to lettering on registered party logos or promoter statements.
There are also rules that relate to road safety and the use of reflective material or illuminations, having moving parts or looking like traffic signs in the Electoral (Advertisements of a Specified Kind) Regulations.
The rules in the Electoral Act
We are responsible for the rules in the Electoral Act.
These rules allow campaigning to start at any time, other than on election day.
Election signs need a promoter statement
If an election sign is an election advertisement it needs a promoter statement to be clearly displayed, with the name and address of the person that has instigated it. This rule provides transparency about who is responsible for election advertising.
Clearly displayed doesn't mean someone should be able to read the promoter statement from where the advertisement is ordinarily viewed. For example, people don't need to be able to read the promoter statement on a billboard while they're driving past. A person should be able to read the promoter statement if they stop to examine the billboard.
Getting written authorisation for candidate and party signs
You can only put up signs promoting a party or candidate with their prior written consent. This rule allows candidates and parties to decide who initiates advertising that encourages voters to vote for them. They also need to know about the cost of signs that are up in the three months before the general election as the cost of the signs that promote them count towards their expense limits.
You don’t need written authorisation for advertising that encourages people not to vote for a candidate or party.
Paying someone to put up election signs
You can only pay someone to put up an election sign on their property, if displaying signs is part of their business.
This rule means people can’t pay members of the public or businesses to put up signs on their land or property if they don’t usually charge for this service.
The rules when voting starts
You can’t display election signs within 10 metres of an advance voting place once voting starts.
All election signs need to be taken down or covered up by midnight on Friday 13 October, the day before election day.
You can’t display election signs on election day.
Who should I contact if I have a question or want to make a complaint about election signs?
|Signs up in my area||Local Council|
|No promoter statement||Electoral Commission|
|Is this sign election advertising?||Electoral Commission|
|Signs up on election day||Electoral Commission|
|Content of election signs and the rules about truth, accuracy, advocacy and offensiveness||Advertising Standards Authority|