Newly elected mayor Sheryl Mai's first priorities include a final decision on the controversial Hundertwasser Arts Centre, safety in the Whangarei CBD, reducing debt, creating more employment and fixing the district's roads and footpaths.
Ms Mai beat off 11 challengers to be named the district's new mayor after pulling in 5437 votes, well ahead of nearest rival Greg Martin - who stood on an anti-Hundertwasser platform - with 4080 votes. Her first official engagement yesterday was the powhiri for Waitangi Tribunal members, the Crown and Maori claimants at Terenga Paraoa Marae ahead of a fifth week of tribunal hearings in Whangarei this week.
Ms Mai said division over the arts centre was preventing the district from moving on and she wanted it resolved as soon as possible. "I will be consulting with all the other councillors to see where they want to go ...
but all options will be on the table."
A 35 per cent voter turnout has seen a new-look Tauranga City Council elected. Only Mayor Stuart Crosby and three existing councillors have been voted in for another term, paving the way for seven new faces on council. Long serving councillors Bill Faulkner, David Stewart and Murray Guy were not successful in this year's election. Meanwhile, a major shake-up in the Maketu-Te Puke ward resulted in a number of new faces on the Western Bay of Plenty District Council. A third of those elected to represent the district are first-time councillors. Mr Crosby put a positive spin on the new-look council and his narrow win, declaring that the handbrakes had been removed. He said the council had a "clean sheet of paper" and he was excited about it having a new chief executive, a new management team and now a new council.
Rotorua's incoming mayor is signalling a range of changes in the way the Rotorua District Council will operate in the future. Steve Chadwick will become the district's first female mayor when she is sworn in on October 30 after a landslide victory over mayor Kevin Winters. With final results still to come, Mrs Chadwick sits on 10,999 votes with Mr Winters picking up 4518 votes.
"I want to work on the great natural resources we have here, focus on bringing Rotorua back to being the spa city of the South Pacific and heating our homes with our geothermal resource. We have to get on with changing the CBD with some bold structural initiatives, which starts with finding out exactly what the retail sector wants it to be in the future."
She said she wanted to give the youth of the city more hope for the future. Another of her priorities was to speak to the new regional council and start a debt reduction plan for the airport. "I'd love to see some of our geothermal staying in the city, rather than going into Mighty River Power and large companies like that."
Amalgamation battle lines have been drawn between Hastings and Napier with supporter Lawrence Yule and fierce opponent Bill Dalton elected as mayors of the respective cities. Both won their mayoral races by comfortable margins and both remained firm in their views on amalgamation.
Mr Yule said amalgamation of Hawkes Bay councils would be his top priority in the next 12 months, while Mr Dalton said he believed the province could be prosperous without amalgamating the local authorities.
Mr Dalton's views on amalgamation seem to be shared by three other mayors in the region - Craig Little of Wairoa, Peter Butler of Central Hawkes Bay and Roly Ellis of Tararua District.
Mr Little said he was not a fan of amalgamation, and said the fact that only Mr Yule was a supporter of it out of the four Hawkes Bay mayors elected, made things "interesting".
Mayor Annette Main will lead the council, featuring four new faces, for another three years after a first term which she said "was the hardest three years of my life". Ms Main finished a comfortable 2600-plus votes ahead of former mayor Michael Laws, with Ray Stevens a distant third. Three years ago she won the mayoralty by just 200-odd votes from Dot McKinnon, who had served as Mr Laws' deputy in 2007-2010. This time she got the clear mandate she wanted. The preliminary count gives Ms Main 9438 votes and Mr Laws 6788. The 1539 votes for Mr Stevens underlined the voter focus in this contest. Mr Laws and Mr Stevens can take solace from the fact both are back on council duties.
A jubilant Lyn Patterson is looking forward to leading Masterton after beating mayoral incumbent Garry Daniell by almost 300 votes. "I'm really thrilled to be elected and happy to be leading the council," she said.
Ms Patterson was also excited about the review of local government and "getting on and progressing Masterton". Mr Daniell said he was not surprised at the result, which he put down to women voters. "It's pretty evident in the polls."
He said he was very pleased with what he had accomplished with the Masterton District Council. Mayoral challenger Gary Caffell, who returns as a district councillor, said he was very pleased with how he polled but disappointed at the record low turnout, around 44 per cent. Mr Caffell was within 300 votes of Garry Daniell; in 2010 he was a significant outsider with Mr Daniell 2000 votes clear.
Incumbent Celia Wade-Brown will push public transport in her second term as the "cycling mayor" - a task made easier by the election of three Green councillors and two Greens on regional council. Her first-term ambitions for light rail gained little traction, so she will instead focus on turning planned cycleways into a reality and improving bus lanes.
Ms Wade-Brown also wants to improve the capital's housing, introduce a living wage, grow the city's high-tech sector, and progress plans for a conference centre and an interactive film museum. "We've got a clear mandate for a modern, progressive, smart capital that's dynamic, connected, people-centred and proud of our closeness to nature," she said.
Challenger John Morrison, who lost by 2284 votes after a campaign marred by accusations of sexism, stood only for mayor - so he has lost his long-held position on council. He is expected to make a decision on his political future this week.
Bid to shut door on laughing stock past
Shutting the door on a difficult first term and looking to a future of new governance is the order of business for re-elected Hamilton mayor Julie Hardaker.
Ms Hardaker, who beat closest rival Ewan Wilson by 2800 votes to retain the mayoralty, said turning the city's finances around was her proudest achievement in her first term but it took determination.
"The council was at its lowest point after the V8s [street race] audit, when we were the laughing stock of New Zealand," Ms Hardaker said.
"We were used as an example of poor local government governance and in that very short time we have turned that around."
Though Hamilton's mayoral campaign was marred by dirty tactics including a targeted campaign against Mr Wilson, Ms Hardaker said it was time to look forward.
"I campaigned on a focus on the future and this is an opportunity for Hamilton to focus on the future and shut the door on the past."
Now the city had a "great financial plan that the Auditor-General uses as an example", and had regained the credibility lost after the failed V8s.
The returned mayor would meet with her new council on Tuesday and Ms Hardaker said with six new faces there was an "excellent mix of skills".
They include former Waikato road policing manager Leo Tooman and past Act Party president and one-time Hamilton councillor Garry Mallett.
Familiar faces returning include failed mayoral candidates Mr Wilson and Dave Macpherson, as well as former MP Martin Gallagher.
She believed the council would have a good grip on the challenges ahead, which included managing debt, investing in the economy and creating efficient council services.
With 70 per cent of the city voting to have fluoride reinstated in the city's water, Ms Hardaker said she would support the referendum result.
"It has to come before the council for a decision. It's a non-binding referendum but what I've said is it'll get on the agenda as soon as it can."