Hamish McDouall was all ready to join a team putting up billboards with his own face on them today - but he didn't have to.

Having no one else stand for mayor of Whanganui has been a bit anti-climatic, he said.

Last election he was one of seven, and "pushed very hard" by candidates Helen Craig and Alan Taylor.

Since then both have praised his leadership.


"Certainly I can take great comfort that some of my colleagues who would have given me a close run if they had stood are happy with my leadership," he said.

It's the first time the Wanganui/Whanganui District has had a mayor elected unopposed. But it's not unknown - Rangitīkei Mayor Andy Watson is in the same position.

McDouall's proudest achievement as mayor has been to unify a council that was very divided when elected in 2016. And he has also done 33 out of the 58 things on his initial list.

His style has been similar to the way he coaches a childrens' football team - short on technical stuff but good on managing emotions and ambitions. He said people came on to council with skills, and he tried to get the best out of them.

He's been very happy with his committee chairs over the last three years, and pleased to leave the town centre to Helen Craig, climate change to Alan Taylor and housing to Kate Joblin, while retaining "a sense of guidance".

Big projects for the coming term include the port and Sarjeant Gallery redevelopment - he wouldn't say how much more money the Sarjeant needs. There's also the pleasing expansion of the aviation hub, strengthening earthquake-prone buildings, housing and climate change.

"People will know and understand that climate change is slightly more important, but I think the housing crisis here affects our most vulnerable and it's just so right to prioritise that."

He's not planning any big changes to the way council runs in his next term, but is open to new ideas. Live streaming the meetings has been good, he said, because it makes them more open to the public and it changed councillor behaviour.


In the meantime the district is doing well economically, with a growing population, "good vibe" and improving image.

"I think it really has been our time in the sun."

Being mayor has been intense and full-time for him, especially in the six months leading up to the 10 year plan.

He lost focus for a few months after his father died, but is now back on track.

He's loved the variety and has never been bored.

"About three weeks ago I had a quiet Monday - nothing in the diary. I tidied the office, answered emails and bounced home thinking 'This is easy. I've got the time and space for strategic thinking'. On Tuesday, everything exploded."

He said being in the public eye can be hard. He's stopped paying much attention to the "vicious postings of keyboard warriors" on Facebook, after posts like one claiming the council's carpet is renewed every two years.

"It's a lie from start to finish. I have been standing on the same carpet since 2010," he said.

He doubts whether he will stand for mayor again next election. And he may not stand for the Whanganui seat in Parliament again either.

What he is certain about is that writing is his passion. He had a novel half finished when this term began, and has only written two chapters since.