Mr Hall said' />

Rotorua is set to have its first new mayor in 12 years after Grahame Hall announced plans to retire at October's local body elections.

Mr Hall said a lack of time available to spend with his family was behind his decision not to seek re-election.

The decision leaves the field wide open for mayoralty contenders.

Councillor Knocker Dean, who stood in 1998 and 2001, has announced he intends to run again.

Four other sitting councillors, Kevin Winters, Glenys Searancke, Neil Oppatt and Charles Sturt, have also been touted as likely contenders. They refused to be pinned down yesterday.

Mr Hall's decision to quit signals an end to a 27-year career in local politics, the last 12 as mayor.

"My decision is based entirely on an increasing desire for my wife Sandy and I to spend more time with our families," he said.

He said he was extremely happy to be leaving when the city was in a healthy economic condition, with the lowest unemployment figures in decades and restoration programmes for the Rotorua lakes and the airport development under way.