Fonterra's poor performance is driving institutional investors away from the co-op.
Nicholls received 53% support in the second director election; the other candidate Jamie Tuuta received 37% support.
Nicholls’ election means Fonterra farmers have only elected one of the three candidates recommended by Fonterra directors and the Shareholders Council this year.
The outcome also raises questions on the independent candidate assessment panel (CAP), which interviews potential candidates and recommends them to the board and council.
Outgoing Zespri chairman Peter McBride is the only successful candidate recommended by the CAP process and backed by the board and councillor.
McBride was successful in the first election along with Leonie Guiney, who like Nicholls, self-nominated with the backing of farmer shareholders.
Former Fonterra director Ashley Waugh, who was unsuccessful in the first election, and Tuuta were recommended by the CAP process and Fonterra’s board.
The first election saw only two successful candidates declared forcing the council to run a second election to fill a third vacancy on the board.
Returning Officer Warwick Lampp, of electionz.comLtd, declared the final result of the second 2018 election today.
The voting return was 64.10% by milk solids, being 5,324 votes cast from 9,347 shareholders of which 79.19% voted via the internet and 20.81% voted by post.
Nicholls was a previous Fonterra Shareholders Councillor and is currently chair of MHV water, NZ’s largest inter-generational irrigation co-operative providing water to 50,000ha in Ashburton District.
He takes up his position on the board immediately.