Phil Goff has stormed home to win a second term as Mayor of Auckland, beating his main rival and former parliamentary colleague John Tamihere.
Goff scored 155,957 of the votes - which he said was 48 per cent of the vote - compared with Tamihere's 70,822, a difference of 85,135. Craig Lord rounded up the top three among the 21 contenders with 25,430 votes.
It was a drop on Goff's votes in the 2016 elections, 187,622. Vic Crone was second in the last election, scoring more than Tamihere at 111,731 while third off the rank, Chloe Swarbrick - now a Green MP - score more than Lord with 29,098.
Goff was told of today's news at his election event at the Kingslander pub in Auckland this afternoon.
He left supporters - who included family and Labour MPs Raymond Huo and Deborah Russell - to take a call to find out the results and spoke with councillors before returning to share the news.
He thanked his supporters for giving him the back up. The election result is the result of a team, he said.
He thanked his family, saying he doesn't know how to thank his wife who has put up with his life in politics for 35 years.
"I think we would have got strong support from across Auckland and the strong diversity of the city.
"I'm proud of the foundations we have laid. My priorities are to continue to build infrastructure, tackling climate change and the structure of council with a review of council-controlled organisation."
He said "we must restore trust and confidence of Aucklanders in those organisations", saying one of his first tasks will be to appoint a high-powered body to review the CCOs.
"It's a celebration for me and I think the beginning to build on what we have already achieved and build a city that we can be proud of for our children and grandchildren," Goff said
Tamihere's election day function is at the Croatian Club in Te Atatu this afternoon.
He spent the morning at his campaign headquarters in Morningside.
Earlier, Huo told the Herald he was very confident of a Goff victory, saying the Chinese community had got in behind Goff for opening New Zealand to fee-paying students in the 1980s and signing a free trade agreement with China as Trade Minister, saying trade to China is now worth $30 billion a year. China is the largest source of overseas students, earning $6b a year for the country, he said.
Goff - who entered politics in 1981 as a Labour MP but has stood as an independent candidate in local politics - faced a stern test from Tamihere, a former Labour colleague and chief executive of the Waipareira Trust.
Tamihere shook up the mayoral contest with an energetic campaign and several of his policies, including 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 ridding the city of homelessness through an 0800 Jacinda hotline.
Tamihere's unpredictable side also came to the fore 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.
Goff offered little in the way of new policies on the hustings, instead promising voters more of the same experience and workmanlike progress on investing in transport, keeping up the rate of building new homes and greater focus on the environment and climate change.
He has promised an overall rates increase of 3.5 per cent over each of the next three years.
His biggest promise is a review and reform of the five council-controlled organisations (CCOs) to improve public trust and confidence in them.
"I share the frustrations of Aucklanders with some aspects of CCO performance and delivery, and concerns about whether they can be held accountable," Goff said at the launch of the policy.
Before the votes were released, Goff said he may have a beer at the Kingslander but wouldn't make it a late night.
"We'll be having an occasion with all of our campaign workers in town, and then I'll go and have a bit of time with family because I've sadly neglected them.
"I don't know that I'll be doing a lot of drinking because I'll be driving myself, no longer having chauffeur driven cars."
Goff said whatever the outcome of today's election, family would remain a focus for the next few weeks.
"I've got a daughter-in-law who's expecting in a couple of weeks, so I'll catch up with her. And course I've got another grandchild, and it's quite a pleasure having the chance to spend some time with her.
"I said to be my kids I'm sorry I didn't have much time, maybe when I'm a granddad I'll have more time. They said 'not when you're in this job, dad'."
Tamihere had said: "All of my whanau and all my support base will be heading down to the Croatian Club in west Auckland. That's where the bedrock of my support is.
"We'll be having a big knees up down there on the shore. We're westies so it won't be orange juice."
The final election results are expected to be announced between October 17 and October 23.