Two long-standing councillors - a "bloody legend" with a common touch and a fearless, loyal mover and shaker - have received an emotional farewell in the council chamber.

District councillors Karen Hunt and Charles Sturt had their last full council meeting yesterday morning as both are retiring after 12 and 33 years of civic service respectively.

At an emotionally charged meeting, the last before the October elections, Rotorua mayor Steve Chadwick described Hunt as fearless, ethical, and "very, very loyal to doing the work of a councillor and doing it well".

She said Hunt was a valued team player who helped others and an incredible advocate for women who had "made stuff happen" through her inner-city revitalisation portfolio.

Karen Hunt has served the city for 12 years. Photo / File
Karen Hunt has served the city for 12 years. Photo / File

"I particularly love how you learnt on the [Te Arawa] partnership agreement and it opened your eyes to something quite new and valuable because you had an open heart and open mind.

"You've got a high community profile. [Hunt] often laughs at those who don't like her style but at least she's noticed. I like that about you."

Speaking to a teary-eyed Sturt, Chadwick said it was ironic the "big boost we're leaving this triennial on is localism".

"You're an incredible battler for local people, for those who don't have a voice, for those that feel processes are too complex, for those who have given up, you're an advocate."

She said Sturt was leaving a legacy with his contributions to the sports and recreation portfolio, that he was ferocious about animal control, understood rates and valuations like no other and, while he "always had Ngongy at heart", he acted as a councillor at large.

"We lose two wonderful battlers, two staunch individuals. But we understand you've made a decision and we look forward to seeing you come into council, take an active interest and participate in the community life that loves you and has shaped your politics."

Speaking to the room, Hunt said there had been a number of projects she was proud to be a part of, in particular the Te Arawa Partnership, and she was delighted work was now happening on the Lakefront, Sir Howard Morrison Performing Arts Centre, Rotorua Museum and Whakarewarewa Forest.

"I have found my work to be invigorating, stimulating and only very occasionally frustrating.


"These last 12 years have been a significant part of my life. I can't go on holiday without looking at infrastructure, drainage, roading and major art. Holidays will never be the same again, though I may take a few more."

Charles Sturt is retiring from council after 33 years of service. Photo / File
Charles Sturt is retiring from council after 33 years of service. Photo / File

Sturt, who was at times overwhelmed with emotion, spoke of the influential, hard-working people he had dealt with during his 33 years at the council table and acknowledged the current councillors who had supported him during his illness.

"Ngongotahā, Hamurana, Kaharoa, Rotoiti, Rotoma, Mourea, Okere always supported me and I hope I never let you down."

In speaking on the Te Arawa Partnership, Sturt described it as the "most innovative, most forward-thinking concept I've seen in my 33 years".

At the end of his speech, Chadwick draped her mayoral chains around Sturt, saying after his commitment to the council, he deserved to be the mayor for morning tea.

Comments were also made by the council's corporate planning and governance manager, Oonagh Hopkins, and councillors Trevor Maxwell, Merepeka Raukawa-Tait and deputy mayor Dave Donaldson.

Hunt was described as being the council's "biggest supporter of trying her things" and "oozed style" while Sturt was lauded for his "wicked sense of humour" and for having "that common touch" which had allowed him to relate to people of all walks of life.

The outgoing councillors were gifted a kowhai tree and a wooden plaque inscribed with their names and years of service.

Maxwell also led a rousing haka in acknowledgement of his colleagues, joined by councillor Tania Tapsell and members of the public gallery.