There will be at least four new faces around the Horizons Regional Council table with four councillors announcing they will not be seeking re-election in October.

Councillors Colleen Sheldon, Bruce Rollinson, John Barrow and Paul Rieger are all standing down this year.

Meanwhile, nine-year chairman Bruce Gordon is seeking a fourth term and wants the top job again.

But he will have his challengers.

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Palmerston North-based councillor Rachel Keedwell stood to be a voice for the environment and said it is still sorely underrepresented.

She is standing again and is hoping for a change of chairman, and leadership that "takes us forward, rather than being dragged back" and wants to see more progressive councillors, because voting is "a numbers game" and it's hard being on the losing side.

Horizons councillors choose their chairman by vote after each election and Gordon said he would like to continue with the support of his fellow councillors.

He was reasonably confident he would get that at the moment but said he understood why Keedwell would like a chair from the "green" side.

Gordon said the council needed continued consistency to get through controversial changes to the nitrogen leaching rule in the council's One Plan.

That should be done during the next three years and then "the hard stuff" will be over.

The plan change situation has been a major disappointment for outgoing Ruapehu councillor Bruce Rollinson who said local decisions should not be made in the Environment Court - where the plan change could end up.

Horowhenua/Kairanga councillor Lindsay Burnell agrees with Gordon that experienced people are needed to get through "a tricky period".

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He's standing again, and also says there's lots of work to do on Lake Horowhenua and the Foxton spillway.

Palmerston North councillor Paul Rieger is standing down after 21 years and is also mindful of the One Plan issue.

He didn't wanted to leave until there were moves toward solving it, and said the plan change will go a long way toward that.

Horizons Regional Council has changed a lot in the 21 years he's been there. At first it was dominated by farmers who didn't want to spend money, but after the 2004 floods a $7 million spend provided better stopbanks for Palmerston North, and environmental issues came to the fore.

Rieger saw some good people standing for Palmerston North and said he was happy to "hand the baton over".

Sheldon leaves the council to begin study for a masters degree and said she had learned a lot but would have liked a more holistic view of land and water and more wetlands - for environmental reasons and to absorb flood peaks.

Gordon McKellar is standing again for a Manawatū/Rangitīkei seat, and Teresa Schulz has also been nominated for that ward.

McKellar said good progress had been made on fencing and planting waterways, but more needed to be done to improve water quality.

He's also looking to a "workable" One Plan change.

Tararua councillor John Barrow has done nine years with Horizons and wants to leave before he starts "falling off the pace".

Palmerston North gets four seats on the council. Jono Naylor and Wiremu Te Aweawe are both new councillors and will stand again. Naylor said he had learned a lot and looks forward to making a positive contribution. Te Aweawe is enjoying the work, and has "a passion for our rivers".

Standing against them and Keedwell in the Palmerston North ward are new nominees Chris Teo-Sherrell and Jack Dowds.

Whanganui's Horizons councillors are both standing for election again.