Tauranga mayor Stuart Crosbie has been narrowly returned for a fourth term, but lost most of his council in a resounding expression of public discontent.

Crosbie yesterday took a big hit to his previous 12,000-plus majority, retaining the mayoral chains with an election day lead of 588 votes.

He will head a a council with seven new faces. Only three of the 10-member council were returned from last term.

Crosbie blamed the shock result on residents being unhappy with the previous council's drive to raise debt to address city infrastructure needs.


"It's a clear indication that people wanted change and progress in community-based issues rather than pipes and roads."

He said there was no one polarising issue, but in recent weeks there had been disquiet over lack of council support for community events.

"Mayors of large cities generally don't survive more than three terms and I am on four now," he said.

Former cabinet minister Steve Chadwick was elected Rotorua's first female mayor yesterday.

With 98 per cent of votes counted, the former Labour MP had won 10,999 votes - more than twice as many as deposed three-term mayor Kevin Winters, who had gained 4518 votes.