As the civic election season gathers steam, one of New Zealand's most enduring mayors is coming under pressure. The irrepressible Tim Shadbolt's three decades as a mayor - at opposite ends of the country - could end next month when Invercargill voters pass judgment. The southern city's council leader first occupied the mayor's office in 1993. He was thrown out in 1995 but returned in 1998 and has been there ever since. He faces challenges from a local business figure, Tom Conroy, and journalist-turned-councillor Karen Arnold.

Before he went south he served two terms as the Mayor of Waitemata, where he misplaced the mayoral chains not once but twice and scandalised his critics by towing a concrete mixer he called "Karl Marx" behind the mayor's Daimler.

He shrugged off these hiccups with his famous broad grin and, for good measure, insulted the country's other local body representatives by declaring in a TV cheese commercial that
"I don't care where as long as I'm mayor."

An argument against Shadbolt's re-election is that the once enfant terrible of political protest has become tired and complacent and wants for nothing more than three more comfortable years at city hall. But it would be foolish to rule Shadbolt out. The 69-year-old has a 4-year-old son to keep him on his toes. For a political parallel look no further than Winston Peters. He too has been declared unelectable more than once, only to defy the pundits. It's a fair bet that Shadbolt too has a bit of political capital still in the tank.