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.
"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."