Sandra Hazlehurst was unanimously elected deputy mayor of the Hastings District Council at its first meeting of the new term yesterday.

About 70 friends and family of the new-look council joined the proceedings outside the council offices, which began with a powhiri performed by the Hastings-based Kahurangi Maori Dance Company.

After chief executive Ross McLeod opened the meeting and received re-elected mayor Lawrence Yule's declaration, Mr Yule, adorned in his mayoral garb, swore in the 14 councillors.

Moving inside the chambers to continue the meeting, councillor Malcolm Dixon with "a great deal of pleasure" nominated Ms Hazlehurst for the deputy role, the motion seconded by councillor Adrienne Pierce.


Hawke's Bay Today understands that Ms Hazlehurst only narrowly beat Mr Dixon in a private vote when councillors met behind closed doors for an informal meeting on Tuesday.

Ms Hazlehurst said she was grateful to have the support of the council for her appointment, and noted the new make-up was dynamic with a good mix of skills, knowledge and expertise.

She said Mr Yule had been a great mentor, as had former deputy mayor Cynthia Bowers, and she wanted a strong, effective council to take the district forward.

"Over the past three years I have been chair of district development and I have a good, clear understanding of the issues and challenges, as well as the opportunities.

"We're a new team and we need to work together with a will to achieve the best outcomes for the community."

She said she looked forward to the challenges the job of deputy mayor would bring and the opportunity for the council to make a difference and make the district the best they could.

The meeting was adjourned until November 8 when the committee structure and chairperson roles would be established.

The next ordinary council meeting was set down for November 17, and decisions on when the subsequent meetings for the rest of the year would be held would also be made on November 8.