A vote of confidence, but a clear sign that more needs to be done - that's the reaction of Whangārei Mayor Sheryl Mai, who was elected today for a third term at the helm of the district.
When provisional voting results were released today Mai was a clear winner in the mayoralty race, with 12,612 votes, well ahead of Tony Savage, who came second with 8997 votes in his first tilt at the council. Alex Wright was third in the race with 2626 votes. The final results are expected on Wednesday, but the provisional results are from around 95 per cent of votes cast.
Mai said she was honoured and thrilled that the people of Whangārei had put their faith in her again.
She said it was clear from the results thought that while most people were happy with the direction the council was taking, many were not.
''My challenge now is to meet the needs of those people more than we have been.''
''But this is a big vote of confidence and support for the direction we are heading in. We are definitely on a roll in the district and we have some exciting things ahead of us. Now I've got to bring together the team to make it all happen.''
She commiserated with Savage and Wright, who had both run great election campaigns.
To the people of Whangārei she said: "Thanks for putting your faith in me again.''
Savage said he had run a good campaign and found it a challenging experience, but he was not ruling out going at it again in three years time.
''I congratulate Sheryl. She did a great job with her campaigning. I wish her the best and a good three years.''
He acknowledged the result was a good return for a first time candidate and said while a lot could happen in three years, he intended to run again, at this stage.
Wright said she was pleased with her overall showing - especially as her vote in the
Hikurangi-Coastal ward ahead of her last showing in 2016, although she still missed out on a seat.
''That's disappointing that I didn't get second in the ward, but overall I'm pretty happy with things.''
She wished Mai well and said it was too early to say if she would be back for another shot in three years time.
Elsewhere, the council has five new councillors, although there was a guarantee of at least three anyway, with Okara
Ward councillor Stuart Bell, stepping down earlier this year, while fellow Okara Ward representative Cherry Hermon and Mangakahia-Maungatapere Ward councillor Sharon Morgan did not seek re-election.
Perhaps the biggest surprise is in the Denby ward where long time councillor Crichton Christie missed out. Incumbent Gavin Benney won the seat with 3149 votes, with fellow incumbent Tricia Cutforth second with 2977 votes and Jayne Golightly taking the third seat with 2636 votes.
Golightly was elected to the ward in the 2016 election, but had to resign as a councillor after it was discovered she was not a NZ citizen. The resignation led to a byelection costing around $35,000 that saw Benney elected.
Christie came fourth with 2202 votes, while first time candidate Shaquille Shortland was fourth with 1391 votes.
In the Bream Bay ward incumbent Shelly Deeming was returned with 2351 votes, while newcomer Ken Couper took the second seat in the ward with 1950 votes. Third was Iain Robertson with 1272 votes, followed by Peter Grant with 887; Tom Paki with 823 and Olli Krollman with 350.
Another long-serving councillor Sue Glen was ousted from the Okara Ward after first time candidate Nicholas Connop swept into first place with 2994 votes. The second of the four seats in the ward went to incumbent Vince Cocurullo with 2823 votes, with another newcomer Carol Peters third with 2375 votes and Phil Halse - standing in Okara after five terms as Bream Bay ward councillor - fourth with 2326 votes.
Tim Robinson was fifth with 2226 votes, Glen was sixth with 2020 votes, followed by Steve Capper with 2492; Albie Barr with 1241; Tony Gill with 1207; Hayley Reid with 1091; Fiona Green with 1002; Glen McMillan with 948 and Melanie Payne with 832.
In the Hikurangi-Coastal ward incumbents Greg Martin, with 1711 votes, and Ann Murphy, with 1608 votes, were both returned. Missing out were Wright, with 1284 votes; Shelley Anderson with 782; Daron Turner with 614 and Marie Minhinnick with 310.
Simon Reid was elected in the Mangakahia-Maungatapere Ward at first time of trying with 1138 votes. Second was Sid Diamond with 808 votes.
And in the Whangārei Heads ward incumbent Greg Innes was returned with 1121 votes, ahead of Dave Blackley with 727 votes and Don Lake with 682.