John Tamihere has hinted at running in the general election next year after his defeat in the Auckland mayoral contest.

But if he ran it would not be for National or Labour.

"The old oligarchy has failed," he told reporters at the Croatian Club in Te Atatu, West Auckland this afternoon.

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Tamihere won 70,000 votes in the mayoral contest, well behind the incumbent Phil Goff's 156,000 votes.

He expressed disappointment in the result, but told around 150 supporters that there was a national election around the corner and his campaign had "awoken a monster".

Tamihere held his election day function at the Croation Club in Te Atatu.
Tamihere held his election day function at the Croation Club in Te Atatu.

"Watch what happens next year," he said.

Asked to elaborate, he told reporters: "A lot of Kiwis are sick and tired of what's happening. And you'll find out about that later on.

"We've had a great brand build, but we'll leave it at that."

Tamihere had no regrets about his campaign, which was based on a platform of zero rates rises but occasionally included oddball policies and controversial remarks about his rival Goff.

"The fact of the matter is that West Auckland, working class, mixed ethnicity Māori was never going to make it," he said.

Tamihere at the Croatian Club today.
Tamihere at the Croatian Club today.

But he was clearly dispirited by the margin of his defeat, comparing his result to second-place mayoral candidate Vic Crone in 2016.

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"I thought it was extraordinary. A nobody three years ago, didn't even run a campaign and got 110,000 votes. How do you work that out?

"[Crone] didn't even batter-up. I had 40 debates with this guy [Goff[."

Two and a half hours after the mayoral result was announced, Tamihere arrived on stage at the Croatian Club to the tune of Jimmy Barnes' Working Class Man.

He was flanked by family, his running mate Christine Fletcher, and strategists Matt McCarten and Michelle Boag. Labour MP and former broadcasting colleague Willie Jackson was in the audience.

Laughing and joking, Tamihere said that he had been at a champagne breakfast earlier in the day and did not feel very well.

"It wasn't the result we wanted," he told supporters. "But let's move on from that."

He blamed his loss on the Labour and National parties colluding against him.

"For the first time in the political history of this country, the National Party and the Labour Party came together against me.

"So tonight I don't congratulate Phil, I congratulate him on being able to secure the National Party vote and the Labour Party vote."

He said he had no ill feeling towards Goff.

"But what a hell of a mess he is going to clean up given his last three years."

Tamihere, a former Labour MP and CEO of the Waipareira Trust, ran an energetic campaign and rolled out a number of bold policies to "shake up" council.

They included plans for a double-decker harbour bridge, privatising 49 per cent of Watercare, selling the business of Ports of Auckland but keeping the land, and setting up an 0800 Jacinda hotline to rid the city of homelessness.

He promised to freeze rates for three years and expected a "more equal partnership" with Wellington by way of extra taxpayer money for housing and transport.

Tamihere's unpredictable side was also on show with promises to sack the board of Auckland Transport, a complaint to the Serious Fraud Office about the sale of a council building and uttering the Nazi salute "sieg heil" in a debate with Goff.