Hastings Girls' High School principal Geraldine Travers says even if she had not won her seat in the Hastings District Council elections, her campaign was a success.

"It has got a lot of our current girls and former students interested in politics and democracy," she said.

Young people were too-often disengaged from politics "and if this has got them engaged, then that's fantastic".

She said she was surprised with her success in the Hastings-Havelock North Ward.

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"I had the lowest-profile campaign. I only had five signs and tried to work out where I would deploy them.

"In the end I thought, if people know me and know my set of values they will vote for me. If they don't they won't."

Last year she was also awarded a New Zealand Order of Merit for services to education and, after 19 years at the school, she announced her resignation last month.

"I decided I was going to resign well before the council thing came up. I put my name forward on the second-to-last-day on a complete whim.

"Someone was talking to me about council things and I said, 'I half-pie thought about putting my name forward'. They said, 'Do it', so I did."

"I'm surprised by the result and really delighted. It is going to be a great new chapter.

When asked if she was bringing an agenda to the council role she said after 40 years in education she liked to be in a positive environment with people working constructively together.

"That's how you make forward progress."