Landscape alters in local body elections
Voters have had their say in local body elections around the country, returning Bob Parker in Christchurch but throwing out John Banks in Auckland.
Tim Shadbolt has been returned in Southland and Janie Annear in Timaru.
Kerry Prendergast appears to have held on in Wellington by just 40 votes.
There was a last-minute rush from voters wanting to have their say in today's local body elections.
Voting closed at noon with predictions of one of the highest turnouts in recent years.
In the 30 minutes before voting closed, there was a steady stream of voters turning up at the Christchurch City Council civic building.
A security guard, who had been then all morning, said there had been a steady stream of voters coming in.
One voter, who cast her ballot at 11.50am, said she waited because she had other things to do this morning but knew she would make her vote in time.
The last voter before the building was closed at noon, Kate Brill, of Burnside, said she voted for Jim Anderton as Mayor.
She criticised Bob Parker for heading a council that seemed to make key decisions behind closed doors.
The Henderson deal lingered and the council's perceived lack of consultation swung her vote towards the Wigram MP.
"I just think Jim is more experienced and would know he has to consult.''
All votes at service centres and libraries around the city have now been collected and taken to the vote processing centre at the New Zealand Post mail centre.
The overall turnout throughout Christchurch passed the 50 percent mark late this morning.
By 11.30am, the overall turnout was 50.45 percent according to figures by the city council.
AROUND THE COUNTRY
Len Brown has beaten John Banks to become Auckland's first super city mayor with 95 percent of the votes counted.
He has beaten his nearest rival, Auckland City mayor John Banks, with about 95 percent of the votes counted.
Mr Brown polled 221,167 votes, compared to 161,167 votes for Mr Banks, a victory by 60,198 votes, according to the first progress result declared after the polls closed at midday.
Businessman Colin Craig was in third place with 40,483 votes
Brown will begin his term on November 1 when the new Auckland council - replacing eight existing councils - begins.
Kerry Prendergast has retained the Wellington mayoralty with a majority of only 40 votes but the result could be overturned once special votes are counted.
Ms Prendergast leads rival Celia Wade-Brown by 24,468 votes to 24,428.
The 900 special votes are due to be counted on Monday though the results may not be known until Wednesday.
After Ms Prendergast and Ms Wade-Brown, businessman Jack Yan was the next highest polling mayoral candidate with 7341 votes, followed by councillor Bryan Pepperell with 5891. Rank outsiders Bernard O'Shaughnessey won 1161 votes and Al Mansell 535 votes.
Wellington electoral officer Ross Bly said it was the closest election result he had seen in Wellington. Officials would be triple checking all special votes.
"The fact that it was so close we will be taking extra care [in counting votes]."
After the announcement was made tonight at the Wellington council chambers, Ms Prendergast told reporters that holding onto a fourth term was always going to be difficult.
''It was a hard race fought by Celia, so we always knew it was going to be close.''
She confirmed that if she does win the mayoralty, it would definitely be her last term in office.
''I have no doubts that the work that's happening in the region about what will be the future for governments in this region will herald changes, and I think it needs someone new and fresh to take forward the city once that happens.''
Ms Prendergast said she was opposed to the area following Auckland's lead in becoming a so-called super city.
''I don't think the problems that Auckland had are replicated here, but it's clear that we can't stay the same. There will need to be some changes, but it's a long continuum between status quo and what's happened in Auckland.
Ms Wade-Brown said she hoped to be voted in on the basis of the special votes, as they tended to be people who were more motivated to vote.
"I know at least one person who didn't get around to voting and she is going to feel really really bad."
Sitting councillors Rob Goulden and Hayley Wain have both lost their council seats but radio personality Simon "Swampy" Marsh was successful. Former Wellington mayor Sir Michael Fowler was unsuccessful in his bid for the Lambton ward.
The race for the mayoralty had looked tight in the week leading up to polling day with a Dominion Post poll putting Ms Prendergast just eight points ahead of Ms Wade-Brown, but with one-in-four voters still undecided.
The two rivals have locked horns over transport issues, with the mayor supporting more roads and a second Mt Victoria tunnel, while her Green rival wants better public transport and light rail.
After the announcement, Ms Prendergast turned immediately and retreated into an elevator. Ms Wade-Brown went to shake her rival's hand but she had already gone.
An expected last-minute surge of voters did not eventuate this morning. Though voter turnout had increased in the days leading up to today's midday deadline, a council spokesman said it tailed off yesterday and just a few hundred voters dropped their ballot off at the council office this morning.
By yesterday, 35,58 per cent of Wellington voters had cast their ballot but that increased to slightly more than 40 per cent today. Less than 40 per cent of Wellington voters bothered to vote in the 2007 election.
As the midday deadline passed, a handful of last-minute voters raced to the locked doors and pleaded to have the vote counted.
Front-running Hamilton mayoral candidates will this morning be taking the edge off their wait for the outcome by getting out and about and dealing with chores put on the backburner during the campaign.
An 11,000-vote surge in returns over the last three days should push the city's local body election turnout past the poor 2007 result, when only 35 per cent of eligible voters bothered to have their say.
Returns were yesterday 4 per cent higher than at the same stage of the last election in what is shaping as the city's most closely fought mayoral contest in at least 15 years.
Incumbent Bob Simcock said he would probably be at home pushing a mower around some long grass that was overdue for attention. He was pleased when told of the late rush of votes.
"I think it's possibly a sign of people being mobilised by the [Waikato Times] poll results, where previously they may have thought it wasn't going to be a close contest," he said.
Julie Hardaker is sticking to her usual weekend routine this morning, including a coffee in the CBD and taking her dog Poppy for a stroll as she waits to hear whether she has landed the city's top job.
"We have a few household chores to do," she said. Ms Hardaker and husband Steve Perdia will also be preparing for a barbecue with friends and supporters at her mother-in-law's house by making a salad.
Roger Hennebry and his wife Jane Hennebry, who is an Environment Waikato candidate, plan to go for their usual coffee at Robert Harris in town and read the papers before heading to a Rates Control gathering in the afternoon. Mr Hennebry said the team was "upbeat and relaxed", and ready for the results.
Mayoral and district health board candidate Jack Gielen would be heading to the Frankton markets: "I've been down there a fair bit with my megaphone during the elections. If Hardaker gets in I'm happy," he said.
Andrew Johnstone said he would be paying little attention to the outcome, working a 12-hour Community Radio shift and going to bed: "I went into this knowing I had no chance," he said.
Mayoral and east ward candidate Lisa Lewis said she was treating the day like any other and would be spending time with her son during the day and working later tonight.
The results of the Invercargill mayoral race between candidates Tim Shadbolt, Suzanne Prentice and Carl Heenan should be revealed by 1pm.
In the Southern Lakes district, whatever the result between candidates Simon Hayes, Michael Scott and Vanessa van Uden, there will be a new mayor, after Clive Geddes stepped down.
Provisional results have Maureen Pugh winning the Westland District Council mayoralty over sole rival Peter Davidson. Pugh has 2,076 votes cast in her favour to Davidson's 1,283.
Napier mayor Barbara Arnott waltzed in for her fourth term, beating her sole challenger Michelle Pyke by 12,331 votes to 4062 on the preliminary count.
Ms Pyke was elected as a councillor - the only new councillor as Napier voters appeared satisfied with the existing council.
The 11 councillors from the previous term who stood again were all re-elected. Ms Pyke replaces Harry Lawson, who did not stand this time.
Timaru mayor Janie Annear is back for a third term, but her team has undergone major change.
Mrs Annear polled twice the number of votes as her nearest rival Jane Coughlan, but it is Team Timaru that looks like the real winners.
Four of the five team members are assured a seat with Steve Earnshaw, Jo Taylor and Tracy Tierney all assured a seat. The sevent seat in the Timaru ward will go to either of the two remaining team members - Shane Bray or Hamish Fraser. Only 50 votes separate the pair, and there are still around 400 votes to be counted.
The only sitting councillors to retain their seats in the Timaru ward are Mrs Coughlan and Terry Kennedy.
The new Mayor of New Plymouth is former Labour MP Harry Duynhoven.
The VW-driving Mr Duynhoven received 10,011 votes, 1657 clear of his nearest rival and newly elected member of the New Plymouth District Council Pauline Lockett.
It's been a short time in the political wilderness for Mr Duynhoven who lost his New Plymouth seat in the 2008 general election to National's Jonathan Young by a mere 105 votes.
The mayoral campaign had attracted strong interest but with eight candidates in the mix and nobody standing out the outcome remained a mystery right up until the end.
A replacement for departing mayor Peter Tennent should be known by mid afternoon.
There's been very strong interest in this mayoral campaign, and with eight candidates in the running it is just too close too call.
Voter turnout has been high right around Taranaki, yesterday afternoon a total of 28,600 voting papers had been returned for all the elections, an almost 54 per cent turnout, and it wouldn't surprise if the tight New Plymouth campaign was big factor in that.
In 2007, there had been a turnout of 47.8 per cent at the same point.
The mayoral candidates had a variety of plans for how to spend election day.
At least two of them will be up at Yarrow Stadium watching Taranaki play Manawatu in ITM Cup rugby.
Phil Quinney will be there on the job, commentating the game.
He said he was hoping the results would be out before the game began but wasn't sure they would be.
"I'm hopeful more than confident," he said about his chances of scooping the top job.
"I'm happy with the way the campaign's gone, we've done all we can really."
The other candidate expected to be at the rugby is John McLeod.
He's still not talking, but the Taranaki Daily News understands he will be at the stadium cheering on the amber and blacks.
Maurice Betts said he would be waiting and watching from his home.
"I would love to be the mayor but if people don't want that, I'm hopeful to get back on the council.
"If that doesn't happen and people feel the need for change, I've got a job to get on with."
Harry Duynhoven was still unsure of his plans for today.
"I'm feeling OK, I've had a good reaction wherever I've been, of course there's a difference between people wishing you well and voting for you.
"What they do on the day, you'll only know on the day but I'm quietly confident."
John Rae will sweat it out at home with his campaign workers, friends and family.
"Hopefully we will have a celebratory drink later on but if not it's back to work on Monday," he said.
"Obviously we don't know what will happen. I don't think any of the serious contenders could say who will win it.
"I've got a gut feeling Harry will win it on name recognition alone."
Pauline Lockett said she believed she had run a positive campaign.
"We've had some good feedback but with so many in the race it's difficult to judge.
"In the afternoon I'll just be watching at home and in the evening we're having a function for people involved in the campaign."
Kevin Moore and Chantel Hewitt did not return phone calls yesterday.
By tonight, Palmerston North should know who will be mayor for the next three years and which 15 people will join him as councillors.
Yesterday afternoon, the city looked on track for a dreadful voting turnout.
Just 18,443 votes had been counted – 35.5 per cent of the 52,000 people who can vote in Palmerston North – well below the 42.4 per cent who had voted at the equivalent point of the 2007 election.
Electoral officer John Annabell said a council staff member took about 750 votes on a flight to Christchurch yesterday afternoon, but those votes appeared not to have been taken into account last night.
More votes were to be flown to Christchurch for counting today.
The final turnout in 2007 was 46 per cent and in 2004 it was just under 50 per cent.
There are also elections for the MidCentral District Health Board, Horizons Regional Council, Manawatu District Council, Rangitikei District Council, Tararua District Council and Horowhenua District Council.