By Sunday, every Mayor in Hawke's Bay could be a woman, in what would be a first be a first for the region. Laura Wiltshire reports.
From the southern edges of Hawke's Bay to its northern border, come Sunday, the region could have five female mayors.
A woman is standing is every mayoral election from Tararua to Wairoa, and Central Hawke's Bay is guaranteed to have a female mayor, with the race between two women.
Current chair of the Hawke's Bay Mayoral Forum (which does not included Tararua), Alex Walker, said she had not thought about the fact that after the election every mayor in Hawke's Bay could be a woman.
"In my eyes success, in our society, when it comes to equity is that it is no longer newsworthy, and we truly are talking about best person for the job.
"The skills and qualities that a woman can bring to a leadership role are just as valuable as those that a man brings."
She said if you look at the East Coast as a whole, the region has predominately female mayors.
From Hastings down to South Wairarapa, all but one district has a female Mayor.
Going north, Napier has had a female acting mayor since April this year, with Faye White taking over after Bill Dalton had a stroke.
In Gisborne Rehette Stoltz has been at the helm since former Mayor Meng Foon resigned earlier this year.
"The East Coast of the North Island already has strong female leadership," Walker said.
Napier mayoral candidate Kirsten Wise said it was an exciting prospect for the region.
"Females have a different leadership style, and some might say that female leaders can be more unifying, which I think for a regional perspective is a huge opportunity."
She said Hawke's Bay had made really good progress in terms of working together as a region, and having more woman at the helm may fast-track that.
"We should be celebrating the fact, initially, that we have even got female candidates standing in every one of those councils, because that in itself is a big step forward."
She said regardless of gender, there are strong candidates standing right across Hawke's Bay this election.
• Local Focus: Could this be Gisborne's first Māori mayor?
• Two years, five elections, brings 'new energy' to Hastings District Council
• Young women throwing hats into local government ring
Local Government Policy expert at Lincoln University, Jean Drage, said what was possibly more significant than the possibility of having all female mayors in Hawke's Bay is the woman-only mayoral contest happening in CHB.
She said in the Hurunui District in the South Island there was also a female-only mayoral race, but described the two cases as "absolutely unique".
"That's a new phenomena for this election."
She said it was not unheard for an area to have women as the majority of mayors, but it was still unusual.
"We've had a lot of debate a this election around just who is sitting around our council tables.
"There has been a lot of talk about having not just women, but about having different age groups and having more diverse faces in there."
She said women standing in local government elections went as far back as 1893, when New Zealand elected its first female mayor, Elizabeth Yates in Onehunga.
It took until 1957 before the country saw its second.
"It took a long for a significant amount of women starting to be seen on councils."
She New Zealand went through a period in the 1980s and 1990s where there were many female councillors, however that has tapered off in recent years.
"The highest number of women mayors we ever had in a term, 19 women were elected in 1998, and we have never had that number since.
"When you look at the last councils around the country, we still had one council on the West Coast of the South Island that was all men.
"In today's world, that is pretty unacceptable."