Southland District Mayor Frana Cardno is bowing out of local politics.
Cardno, New Zealand's longest continuously serving mayor, will not contest the October elections.
In a statement released this afternoon, she said: "This decision has been one of the hardest I have ever had to make. On one hand I have loved the past 21 years, and have felt very proud to represent Southland.
"On the other hand this will enable me to spend more time with my children and grandchildren, and hopefully other opportunities will open up to me because of the reduction in commitments."
Cardno said the Southland District was in good heart.
"I think I can pass the mantle of the district on to good hands and I wish all those who contest not only the mayoralty but also those standing for council all the very best."
The Southland District Council had developed from an organisation coming to terms with amalgamation to a coherent and unified council that made excellent decisions on behalf its residents and ratepayers, she said.
She paid tribute to council staff and also thanked deputy mayor Jim Copland for his support.
She also acknowledged the support and love of her late husband, Murray, who died two-and-a-half years ago.
"I may have been mayor, but Murray was my unpaid assistant, answering the phone whenever I was away, educating people on the issues, driving me from appointment to appointment at all hours of the day and night, being a sounding board for ideas even though there were times when we were possibly at the opposite ends of the spectrum and most of all to be there when I returned home exhausted after long days.
"After 21 years of continuous service as mayor, I feel it's time that I hang up those chains and it's an opportune time to move on to do some other things. I still believe I have things to offer the community and I will look at other roles where I can contribute constructively to make Southland a better place for us," she said.
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