Anecdotes and tributes flowed during speeches for the ''kid from Papamoa'' who went on to win 10 elections in a row, four of them for mayor.

The valedictories followed Mr Crosby's decision not to seek a fifth term as mayor but to instead try for a seat on the Bay of Plenty Regional Council.

He enjoyed the story from the early years in the development of Papamoa when parts of the suburb that featured government housing were dubbed the wild east. A resident had buried a horse in their backyard, but not deeply enough, and before long the legs started to poke up through the soil.

"It was part of the fledgling Papamoa of yester-year," planning consultant and SmartGrowth's independent chairman Bill Wasley said.

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Mr Crosby quipped back that it was a monumental occasion in Papamoa when it stopped being a one-horse town.

Mr Wasley joined the theme that flowed throughout the speeches about Mr Crosby's calmness in a crisis and clarity of thought.

He praised the mayor for his firmness and ability to connect the dots and place issues in context, saying Mr Crosby never over-reacted to a situation.

Mr Wasley recalled the time he saw an elderly driver crash into Mr Crosby's car in the downtown area. When he handed her his card, she spotted the name and was mortified that she had run into the mayor. It was typical of his caring attitude that Mr Crosby responded by giving her a hug, he said.

Deputy mayor Kelvin Clout praised the mayor's sense of dignity and loyalty to the people of Tauranga. "I found him a very calming influence, and that will be missed, together with his knowledge of past events."

Councillor Bill Grainger remembered Mr Crosby as a shy and reserved character when they both worked for the Tauranga Electric Power Board 42 years ago. One of the traits that survived from those early years as an apprentice electrician was Mr Crosby's calmness. "You could never rile up Stu," Mr Grainger said.

Former councillor and deputy mayor Mary Dillon remarked how the modern history of Tauranga had featured electricians as mayors for 24 years - Mr Crosby and Noel Pope. She wondered why and concluded it was because they understood wiring diagrams.

Mrs Dillon detailed the huge advances in Tauranga over the 27 years that Mr Crosby had been a councillor and mayor, interrupted by the challenges of the floods in 2005, the Global Financial Crisis in 2008 and the Rena grounding in 2011.

Mr Crosby could not resist firing a warning shot about the ''busy bees'' in Parliament in his speech that included tributes to council staff, elected members and tangata whenua.

''I have never been against reforms, providing they benefit our communities. Sadly a lot of reforms handed down simply do not do that. They make the business of council far more complex and costly than it has to be.''

In a veiled warning about the threat of further privatisation, he said existing laws allowed councils to improve their performance without selling out to a business model that had an imperative of getting a return on assets, rather than delivering services in a sustainable and cost-effective manner.

Councillor Bev Edlin encouraged Mr Crosby to write a book in his spare time about 30 years of watching the city grow. ''The story must be told. It has been a true pleasure to work with you over the last three years,'' she said.

Speakers who paid tribute to Stuart Crosby
- Chairman of the joint Tangata Whenua/Council Committee Huikakahu Kawe
- All 10 current city councillors
- Former long-serving councillor Mary Dillon
- SmartGrowth independent chairman Bill Wasley
- Western Bay of Plenty District Mayor Ross Paterson