Donald Trump was elected the 45th president of the United States last night, sending shockwaves across financial markets and the world and Bay leaders say the impact of the result will be felt in the Bay of Plenty.

It was an astonishing victory for a celebrity businessman and political novice who capitalised on voters' economic anxieties, took advantage of racial tensions and overcame a string of sexual assault allegations on his way to the White House.

His triumph over Hillary Clinton will end eight years of Democratic dominance of the White House. He's pledged to act quickly to repeal Barack Obama's landmark health care law, revoke the nuclear agreement with Iran and rewrite important trade deals with other countries.

Bay politicians and business leaders were shocked by the result last night and said it could have a big impact on the Bay's export sector.

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Tauranga Chamber of Commerce Stan Gregec said Trump's victory was not what they were expecting, "or even prepared for".

He expected a lot of Bay business people would be "very nervous" about the result.

"It's a massive spanner in the works for things like TPPA and the continuation of current economic policy settings.

"It could be the start of much more turbulent times for New Zealand and other countries like us.

"The Tauranga economy is currently well placed to ride out any short-term uncertainty, but we are not immune from global shocks."

Tauranga MP Simon Bridges said he was surprised by Trump's victory. The biggest impact for Tauranga would be on trade.

"My view was due to the uncertainty around a Trump victory, I thought that would mean American voters would gravitate to Clinton.

"For Tauranga, the concern will be around free trade. Our region has been a real winner from big trade agreements sending produce, kiwifruit and even high-tech manufacturing into more countries to be more prosperous. Trump has been, in his pre-presidential comments, against that."

Trump is not a huge fan of free trade in its current form, he's likely to take a more protectionist view of trade which isn't great for New Zealand.

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Bay of Plenty MP Todd Muller predicted the short-term effect would be seen in the volatility in the world markets, but he thought it should settle to a "not exactly business as usual" state.

He thought Trump's US win indicated there was "huge resentment around the direction of their country".

"He's an outsider and he fundamentally thinks Washington is broken. It's the US version of the UK Brexit vote."

Tourism Bay of Plenty CEO Kristin Dunne said the US market was the fourth-largest international market for the Bay by visitor spend, with the election possibly having a major bearing on the value of the American dollar.

"Quite what this result means for tourism, the financial markets, the American economy, let alone the American society, is totally unknown to us all. I feel so grateful to live here in Tauranga and New Zealand."

Mark Lister, Craigs Investment Partners head of wealth research, said businesses should wait until the dust had settled.

"Trump is not a huge fan of free trade in its current form, he's likely to take a more protectionist view of trade which isn't great for New Zealand."

Like with Brexit, everyone had been caught by surprise and there would be some panic for a week, Mr Lister said.

"We will just have to wait and see."

NZ First MP Clayton Mitchell said Trump's rise to president was "a seismic event".

"People have had enough of the establishment. Politicians are out of touch."

Despite not being a Trump supporter, Mr Mitchell said the win showed voters around the world, such as those from Brexit, were wanting "to be put first".

"We're going to see ramifications."

Western Bay of Plenty Mayor Garry Webber said he expected it to be some time before Trump could begin making changes that would affect the country, or the Bay.

"The rest of the world will have to accept that result and manage the best they can."

Tauranga City Mayor Greg Brownless said he thought after the initial impact of the election had settled down, "hopefully it won't have a big impact".

"I've been around long enough when Ronald Reagan was elected, some people thought the world was going to end. It's a frightening prospect but hopefully common sense will prevail."

Education Tauranga regional manager Anne Young said due to Trump's strict border stance, other countries would likely benefit in terms of an increase in international students who could not study in the States.

"So New Zealand could capitalise on that," she said.