Hamilton's mayor and councillors will now be elected under the Single Transferable Voting system after the council voted to change the system in the wake of strong support from the public, and joining a select few cities under the system.

The change means that voters will rank the candidates in order of preference, rather than ticking the candidates they are voting for.

Elected members had the option to keep FPP, switch to STV, or conduct a formal poll of the city's voters, either before or as part of the 2022 elections.

Seven members of the community spoke in public forum, with five supporting the switch to STV.

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The results of a community survey run by the council also showed that a majority of respondents favoured using STV.

The survey ran from June 17 to July 17 and attracted 928 submissions.

Overall, 726 respondents wanted to switch to STV and 202 preferred to keep using FPP.

It was a tense debate for councillors who were split on whether to leave it to the public to decide, or to make the change to STV on their decision.

Councillor Angela O'Leary said one of the things that had frustrated her at the table was the feedback council get saying councils did not listen.

"We have heard over the years that explaining the two systems is confusing, but this time was different, because of that challenge our staff have done a fantastic job at explaining it," O'Leary said.

"You had to go through that short video which had the facts before you gave the feedback so you were actually armed with the information before making your decision.

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"We would have not been able to achieve that with a poll because we would have been back to paper, and we would have been back to having people uninformed about a decision."

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Deputy mayor Geoff Taylor, who put forward a failed amendment for a city wide poll, said the feedback was not a scientific study.

"The diversity issue gets pushed very hard, that's fine but there is an ugly undercurrent which pops out every so often, the comment from one submitter today about old white men speak volume," Taylor said.

"I'm a white man in my 50s, don't presume to know me, you haven't walked in my shoes and you have no ideas about what challenges or sacrifices I've had to overcome to get here."

Governance manager Becca Brooke said the result is "a significant moment in Hamilton's local government history".

"Hamilton has used FPP for more than 140 years, but there was obviously a desire for change to a more proportional voting system," she said.

"We now have an exciting opportunity to continue educating our voters about how STV works before the 2022 elections."

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In the 2019 elections, 67 of the 78 local authorities in New Zealand used FPP.