Mayoral elections will be held in all five council areas from Wairoa to Dannevirke in this year's local body elections.
The need for the votes was confirmed in the traditional late rush going into the last 24 hours before nominations for the nationwide triennial polls close at midday today.Postal voting starts late next month and closes on October 12.
By late yesterday four candidates were in the race for the Napier mayoralty, which has been vacated by two-term Mayor Bill Dalton, while sitting mayors in Hastings, Wairoa, Central Hawke's Bay and Tararua will each be challenged by at least one other hopeful.
Leaving it until near the last moment were several whose plans have been public for several weeks, including the leading Napier hopefuls, two-term councillor Kirsten Wise and former Napier MP Chris Tremain.
They confirmed their nominations were finally lodged on Wednesday, joining Steve Gibson, a former Manawatu councillor who in 2012 missed out on that district's mayoralty by just six votes, and who three years ago got 6081 votes in an unsuccessful bid for an at-large section seat on the Napier City Council, despite being a self-confessed "newbie" in Hawke's Bay.
Long-time youth facilities advocate David Hannay, with at least four unsuccessful council elections behind him, but including 3115 votes as an at-large hope three years ago, is also expected to be a mayoral candidate in Napier, although his name was still not on the official list updated about 4pm yesterday.
An expected race for the Hastings mayoralty was confirmed by first-term councillor Damon Harvey's nomination to challenge incumbent Sandra Hazlehurst, who won the job in a 2017 byelection after long-standing mayor Lawrence Yule stood-down to become an MP.
Wairoa mayor Craig Little, got in from the farm to get his nomination in, seeking a third term but will be challenged by Tuai tourism operator Waipatu Winitana.
Central Hawke's Bay mayor Alex Walker, seeking a second term, is being challenged by first-time local government hopeful Darcy Scowen, while Tararua mayor Tracey Collis will also seek a second term, with a challenge from James Harold, who made an unsuccessful parliamentary bid as an independent candidate in the Wairarapa electorate at the 2017 General Election.
Napier had 17 candidates lining up for 12 council seats, with at least five expected to be new members and elections guaranteed in three of the four constituencies as the number of seats doubles per sector amid the city's return to a full-ward system of representation.
The Onekawa-Tamatea Ward was potentially going to go without a vote for a second successive election, with incumbent two-term ward representative Annette Brosnan and current at-large councillor Richard McGrath the only names listed seeking the two available seats.
Hastings District Council nominations late yesterday included 12 of the 14 current councillors. In the major city wards, 10 candidates were lined-up for the eight positions in Hastings-Havelock North, and the six confirmed chasing two positions in Flaxmere late yesterday include incumbent Jacoby Poulain, at the council door when Hawke's Bay Today called just before 5pm.
She was not dismissing the possibility of seeking re-election to the Hawke's Bay District Health Board, after a recent in-or-out controversy following her concerns about the Hastings hospital role in a Ministry for Children baby uplift attempt. There were 17 nominees vying for the seven seats on the board.
An election will also take place in the first local council Maori ward in Hawke's Bay, with four people vying for the three positions available on the Wairoa District Council, and five chasing the three seats in the council's general ward.