Celebration time for new mayors - before work starts

It's fair to assume there will be a fair few sore heads as more than 20 new mayors wake up this morning.

In many parts of the country there were few surprises - Phil Goff won in Auckland as expected and Lianne Dalziel claimed Christchurch again in a landslide win.

However, some races were too close to call with Hamilton hopeful Andrew King still waiting to hear if he'll be able to crack open the bubbly.

Early indications put the sitting-councillor in the lead, but with only 150 votes in it and roughly 1000 special votes yet to be counted, candidate Paula Southgate is still very much in the running.

He said last night that he was very pleased with the result but unwilling to break out the bubbly before the final results came in.

"It's very exciting, we're not there yet but it is exciting," he said.

And in MacKenzie District, Graham Smith is likely to become the new mayor, but there are fewer than 100 votes between him and nearest rival James Leslie.

For many leaders the news was fitted in around the daily chores.

In Tauranga, candidate Greg Brownless was balancing up whether to move the chicken coop or mow the laws when he got the good news.

With fresh lawn clippings still on his trousers, Tauranga's new mayor said that he thought the result would have been a lot closer.

In Wellington, Justin Lester was getting a haircut when he took the phone call telling him he had won the race in Wellington.

His team sent out a press statement saying he would "hit the ground running" - once he was out of the barber's chair.

Lester said he was "absolutely ecstatic" at the news and described it as "one of the best days of my life".

In Auckland Goff's main competitor Vic Crone congratulated him and thanked supporters after the results were announced saying it had been an "incredible journey".

"While I'll congratulate Mr Goff I'm proud I signed him up to a much stronger agenda than he would've [otherwise]."

Chloe Swarbrick, who came third in Auckland polls, said she is now "evaluating" her future.

"In the context I'm feeling pretty good. I'm hoping the people who voted for me are not feeling too disappointed. This is just the beginning."

Gisborne mayor Meng Foon said he was relieved at returning a healthy majority for his sixth term.

"We are really humbled by the support the community has given us," Foon said.

Christchurch new mayor Lianne Dalziel. Photo / Geoff Sloan
Christchurch new mayor Lianne Dalziel. Photo / Geoff Sloan

In the South Island some of the old guard held firm while others were dethroned. Lianne Dalziel and Tim Shadbolt were re-elected in Christchurch and Invercargill, while popular West Coaster Tony Kokshoorn ran unopposed in the Grey District and Rachel Reese was re-elected as Nelson's mayor. Dunedin mayor Dave Cull won a third term.

Dalziel thanked voters as she romped to a landslide re-election victory by 60,000 votes, pledging: "I won't let you down".

New Zealand's longest standing mayor Tim Shadbolt, who was elected mayor of Waitemata City back in 1983, said his battle for an eighth term as Invercargill's leader was his toughest campaign yet.

"In the past I've had either no contenders, but this time I had a television producer and a sitting councillor who had also been an investigative journalist, so it was pretty tough opposition," he said.

Labour leader Andrew Little said the success of Labour-aligned candidates in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch mayoral contests will give party members a boost.

However, Little isn't reading too much into the local government election results ahead of next year's general election - saying that contest is a "different beast".

"It's a little too early to say whether there is a change in mood. But certainly the mayoral results in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch are good," Little told the Herald On Sunday.

HIGHLIGHTS

• Phil Goff is the new mayor of Auckland.

• Andrew King is leading the race to be Hamilton's new mayor but the results are too close to call.

• Greg Brownless is the new mayor of Tauranga, replacing Stuart Crosby who has been mayor since 2004

• Rotorua incumbent Steve Chadwick comfortably re-elected.

• Hastings mayor Lawrence Yule
re-elected despite criticism over the gastro outbreak.

• Justin Lester narrowly won the Wellington mayoralty.

• Lianne Dalziel achieved a clear victory against rival John Minto in Christchurch.

• Businessman and former Christchurch International Airport boss Jim Boult ousted Lyal Cocks by 3000 votes in Queenstown.

• Dunedin mayor Dave Cull wins a third term.

• Invercargill mayor Tim Shadbolt will continue to be the country's longest serving mayor.

- NZME.

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