Hamilton mayor Julie Hardaker is not seeking re-election. The two-term mayor yesterday said she would leave the council at the end of this term to go back to being a lawyer.

Ms Hardaker was elected after a tightly fought race with incumbent Bob Simcock in 2010 by campaigning to sort out the council's debt.

The 56-year-old said it was a tough decision. "It is tempting to stay on and be part of the exciting growth opportunities in front of Hamilton but I have achieved what I set out to do," she said. "I was voted in as mayor in 2010 under a campaign for change and I have delivered that; with the finances, with the way the council goes about its business and with restoring confidence in Hamilton's future."

Ms Hardaker will return to her legal career where she specialised in employment and industrial relations and would be considering her options in the next few months. She was a partner at McCaw Lewis, but had no plans to return there or to politics.

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She believed she had made her mark on the city by addressing the council's financial woes and implementing a river plan which she said would open the city up to the river after 30 years of failed attempts.

Other highlights were two royal visits, Hamilton Gardens winning the best garden in 2014 and hosting the rugby and cricket World Cups.

Hamilton deputy mayor Gordon Chesterman said last week he would also be retiring from politics.