Brown returned in Auck, Dalziel wins Chch
UPDATE: Celia Wade-Brown has won another term in Wellington; Dave Cull has been returned as Mayor of Dunedin.
The Green-leaning Ms Wade-Brown trailed centre-right challenger John Morrison in pre-election polling, but after five rounds of transferable vote counting she was declared the narrow winner with 26,854 votes to Mr Morrison's 24,570.
Jack Yan was third with 9915 votes, Nicola Young fourth on 5069.
The incumbency trend continued in Whanganui, where Michael Laws failed in his bid to regain the mayoralty as Annette Main was re-elected.
Hamilton Mayor Julie Hardaker also won another term, as has Invercargill's Tim Shadbolt.
Early indications were that voter turnout nationwide would be around the level of 2007's record low of 44%.
In Auckland, participation fell from 51% in the first super city election to 35% - with voter apathy perhaps amplified by perceptions the Mayoral race was a forgone conclusion as experienced candidates on the right like Cameron Brewer and Maurice Williamson chose not to run, and that major housing and transport decisions hinge more on Len Brown's negotiations with government than which faction has a majority on council.
In other election news:
- A referendum saw Hamiltonians voted overhelmingly for fluoride to their water supply, 68% 5o 32%.
- One-time EMA CEO Alasdair Thompson failed in his bid to win a place on the Auckland District Health Board.
- Former ACT Hilary Calvert and former Labour MP David Benson-Pope won placed on Dunedin Council.
- Colin Craig's Conservative Party had its first, modest taste of electoral succes as two candidates - Christine Rankin and Callum Blair winning spots on the Upper Harbour Local Board in Auckland
- Although Len Brown won a second term as Auckland Mayor, he again faces a council were a majority identify as conservative or independent. The situation is far from clear cut. Len Brown ally Anne Hartley was voted out from the North Shore ward, replaced by independent Chris Darby - who with his anti-rates but pro-light rail policies has been claimed by both right and left. The conservative C&R made a gain as its Maungakiekie-Tamaki ward candidate, Denise Krum, won the ward from Labour-aligned City Vision incumbent Richard Northey. And C&R held the open Franklin ward, where retiring C&R counciller Des Morrison was replaced by C&R candidate Bill Cashmore who brushed easily off challenges from the independent Lyn Murphy and Affordable Auckland's Niko Kloeten.
EARLIER: Auckland Mayor Len Brown, has been returned for a second term.
The Mayor's camp claimed victory shortly after 1pm as a progress count showed 148,944 votes for the incumbent and 98,930 for his closest challenger, John Palino [UPDATE: the latest total has Mr Brown on 162,675 and Mr Palino on 107,762]
In the far left stakes, prolific NBR ONLINE commentor Penny Bright garnered 10,635 votes, edging out John Minto on 10,279.
Dalziel romps home in Chch
In Christchurch, Labour MP has Lianne Dalziel won the Mayoralty left vacant by the retiring Bob Parker.
With 70,000 votes counted, Ms Dalziel was around 50,000 ahead of her nearest rival, businessman Paul Lonsdale.
Like the Labour-leaning Mr Brown, Ms Dalziel faced no high-profile challenge from the right.
Ms Dalziels resignation from Parliament took effect Friday night, and a byelection is being held to fill her Christchurch East seat.
In the case of the Auckland race, potential challengers on the right were left stranded after the government came around to support Mr Brown's multi-billion light rail plan, and the Mayor and the Housing Minister Nick Smith mashed out a compromise accord on housing.
A result in the tightly contested Wellington Mayoral race is not expected until around 7pm.