Key Points:

The outgoing and incoming prime ministers yesterday paid tribute to Western Bay of Plenty District mayor Graeme Weld, who died over the weekend.

Mr Weld, 70, was in his third term as mayor, and had been unwell for some months when he died in Tauranga Hospital on Saturday night.

He had held the mayoral position since November 2001.

Outgoing Prime Minister Helen Clark said Mr Weld had been a well-respected mayor and she had enjoyed close co-operation with him.

"Graeme had a background in farming and was elected unopposed for his third term last year. He also served on the national executive of Local Government New Zealand, making a strong contribution to the transport portfolio."

Prime Minister-elect John Key said he'd last met Mr Weld weeks ago and was saddened to hear of his passing.

"He contributed much at both a local and national level in the local government sector. His passion was roading, and he was a strong advocate for his district and the wider Bay of Plenty region," Mr Key said.

Mr Weld was only the fifth mayor since the council was established in 1989.

- NZPA