Tauranga mayoral contender Max Mason ran the city's most expensive election campaign, notching up expenses of $53,544 - nearly $10,000 more than the next highest spender.

Mr Mason, who polled a distant third in the mayoral race behind Greg Brownless and Kelvin Clout, still garnered enough support to became the only genuine new face to be elected onto the council.

His election expenses were only $2456 short of the $55,000 legal maximum allowed to be spent by a Tauranga mayoral candidate.

The next biggest spender, nearly $9800 behind Mr Mason, was Doug Owens who finished fourth in the polling for mayor.

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His money did not translate into a seat on the council because he ran an all-or-nothing campaign.

John Robson, who lost his bid for the mayoralty and failed to hold his seat on the council, was the campaign's third highest spender with expenses of $29,192.

Larry Baldock, whose profile in the mayoral race helped win him a seat on the council, spent $25,236 - nearly $2000 more than Greg Brownless who won the city's leadership race.

Mr Mason's biggest single payment was $35,550 to Tuskany for advertising and marketing, with all these costs recovered from donations to his campaign totalling $37,938. Donors included Paul Adams (Westmoreland Rise) $10,000, J&B Gordon (Seaview Rd) $5000 and P van Syp (Hewletts Rd) $5000.

Steve Morris, who ran for the mayoralty and the council, showed donations from his father Doug totalling nearly $3900 of his $12,928 campaign expenses.

The only other mayoral contender who showed donations was Hori Leaming who received $165 in donations - his total campaign spend.

Three council-only candidates kept their campaign expenses to zero. They were Grayson Ottaway, Brian Oxley and Peter Stanley.

Most of the $43,751 spent by Mr Owens went on billboards.

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He said his huge billboards set new standards in advertising for the council.

The remainder of his expenses comprised advertising in local media and sending informative postcards.

"I don't think I could have spent less for the mayoralty."

Asked if he would campaign differently in future, Mr Owens said: "I'm not sure if I'd even run again. I think that if you're going to do this sort of thing, you've got to get your message right and go out and make a bit of a splash."

The turnout of voters was what disappointed Mr Owens.

"Unless people come out to vote you can't win."

Mr Brownless said his fifth highest spend among the mayoral campaigners was proof that how much a candidate spent on a campaign was only part of the mix.

"Just throwing money at something doesn't necessarily get you there. When you're running you don't really know what's going to work or what isn't - you just try a range of different things."

His $23,265 was spent on getting his name and message out to the community.

"Some people know you, some don't know what you stand for, so before they vote they need to know a bit more about you."

Mr Mason did not respond to calls by deadline.

Tauranga City Council election expenses (in order of votes received)
Mayoral Candidates
Greg Brownless $23,265
Kelvin Clout $13,257
Max Mason $53,544
Doug Owens $43,751
Steve Morris $12,929
Murray Guy $2000
Larry Baldock $25,236
John Robson $29,192
Graeme Purches $5740
Noel Peterson $2143
Hori BOP Leaming $165

At large candidates
Kelvin Clout*
Gail McIntosh $4610
Max Mason*
Rich Curach $14,767
Tony Christiansen $4024
Mark Wassung $15,994
Matt Cowley $4451
John Robson*
Antoine Coffin (not supplied by council)
Geoffrey Brown $1498
Hugh Robb $26
Grayson Ottaway $nil
Alan Davidson $724
Kevin Millin $67

Te Papa/Welcome Bay Ward
Bill Grainger $2808
Terry Molloy $7368
Jesse Misa $5228 (donations $4200)
Sam Bailey $653
Brian Oxley $nil
Hori Leaming*

Otumoetai/Pyes Pa Ward
Larry Baldock*
Catherine Stewart $606
Bev Edlin $8615
Jo West $1150 (donation $500)
Sheldon Nesdale $5446 (donation $2000)
Graeme Moore $7523

Mount Maunganui/Papamoa Ward
Steve Morris*
Leanne Brown $2883
Bob Harnor $1117
Peter Stanley $nil
*Also ran for the mayoralty