6.30pm - By BERNARD ORSMAN and JULIE MIDDLETON and REBECCA WALSH
To cheers of 'For he's a jolly good fellow' from supporters businessman Dick Hubbard today became the new mayor of Auckland City beating incumbent John Banks by about 17,000 votes.
It brings to an end one of the most bitter and exciting mayoral electioneering campaigns in living memory.
Mr Hubbard got 62,751, incumbent John Banks got 44,964 and former mayor Christine Fletcher got 12,501. The result is a progress result, updated at 6.30pm to 98 per cent of the votes cast.
Today Mr Hubbard rejected suggestions he had no policy saying he had very clear ideas about what he wanted to do for Auckland.
He said part of John Banks' platform was action based leadership.
"A lot of people admire that and I think that it's important to get on and pick up on that."
Mr Hubbard said he thought he had benefited from a back-lash against politics at these local body elections and while he had been accused of being politically naive he thought that it was not a bad thing.
As results of the mayoral race came through mayor John Banks was holed up in his Town Hall office with his press secretary Cameron Brewer.
At 3pm Mr Banks faced a press conference and
"I have spoken with Mr Hubbard and have given him my congratulations. It has been a great privilege to be the 38th mayor of this city."
Mr Banks said "I never dwell on my loses. I never look back. For me it is upwards and onwards. Today a door has closed and tomorrow a new one will open.
"The people of Auckland have spoken and I respect that."
John Banks heard the result from the returning officer Dale Ofsoske, who rang all candidates between 12.55 and 1.00pm. Mr Banks was surrounded by his office staff but his family were not with him.
Across at the nearby Play House pub, members of Citizen and Ratepayers Now were assembled to hear the results.
Results were delivered by Pakuranga MP Maurice Williamson, appointed Mr Banks' scrutineer, who ran from the nearby electoral office to deliver the result to a tense crowd.
It quickly became apparent that centre-right party Citizens and Ratepayers Now had suffered a severe blow, with voting showing a marked swing to the centre-left.
When Mr Hubbard heard the news he was mobbed by media in the study at his Epsom home and a short while later his wife Diana learned the news and congratulated her husband with a hug.
Christine Fletcher wished Mr Hubbard well, saying it was positive there was a clear majority.
Surrounded by friends and supporters at the Ponsonby home of her campaign manager Roger Wilson, Mrs Fletcher said she had given 15 years of her life to Auckland and given her best in the campaign.
"It was a traditional campaign. We had been campaigning for two years, we knew Mr Banks was beatable."
Her only regret was being excluded from programmes such as the initial Holmes debate and the Kim Hill debate.
She would not comment on what she planned to do next but said it was time to move on to the next phase of her life.
The election campaign has been plagued by controversy over the publication and reprint of a series of National Business Review articles about Mr Hubbard's business and personal life, which Mr Hubbard labelled a "hatchet job" and "gutter journalism".
Revelations by the Herald about cash deals to reprint and circulate the stories led to Mr Banks' campaign manager, Brian Nicolle, resigning after admitting he was the person who "facilitated the distribution of the NBR article".
Mr Hubbard has lodged a defamation claim against the NBR.
Today Mr Hubbard said it was time to put the messy election campaign behind him and get on with leading the city.
"This campaign has robust and in the cut and thrust of election debate it is easy to say things that under normal circumstances would be inappropriate.
"Now, we have to move into a period of reconciliation and put any recriminations well behind us."
Mr Hubbard said he was delighted and ready to take up his position.
"Aucklanders have put their trust in me and now I will ensure that this trust is justified," he said.
He said he would like to thank incumbent mayor John Banks and his other rival Christine Fletcher "for the good things they have achieved for Auckland City".
"There are a number of their initiatives that will be picked up and advanced under my leadership.
He said he will hit the ground running on Monday focusing on the new team of councillors.
The final results will be released on Wednesday, 13 October when all votes including special votes have been processed.
Voting closed at noon today with a total of 48.3 per cent of Auckland city voters having cast a vote (compared to 42.8 per cent at the last elections), not including special votes which in the last election totalled around 1800.
- additional reporting by NZPA
The following results are progress results only and exclude votes still in transit from ballot boxes in libraries and special votes. The progress results represent about 98 per cent of votes cast. Preliminary results will be released as soon as they are available.
HUBBARD, Dick - Independent 62,751
BANKS, John - Independent 44,964
FLETCHER, Chris - Independent 12,501
BERRY, Stephen - Libertarianz 952
COGGAN, Felicity - Communist League 441
O'CONNOR, Phil - Christians Against Abortion 990
WHITMORE, Daphna - Anti-Capitalist Alliance 706