Gisborne Mayor Meng Foon will be stepping down at the end of this year after 18 years in the top job.
Mr Foon was elected as a councillor in 1995 before successfully running for mayor in 2001.
"Both Ying and I wish to sincerely thank our Tairawhiti community for all the support they have given us over the last 24 years in local government at the Gisborne District Council," he said in a statement.
"In my time I have worked with four chief executives, six different elected councils, three deputy mayors and a great team of staff. I acknowledge their valuable contribution in advancing Tairawhiti's future."
Mr Foon, who is currently the only mayor fluent in te reo, said engaging with Māori communities and building a new wastewater treatment plant had been the highlights of his career.
"There is so much more to tell and so many people to thank and acknowledge. There is a saying that this is a thankless job, but I can put my hand on heart and say that the good people outweigh the few negatives.
"Ying and I aren't leaving town, we are staying put as this is our home, our community and we want to continue to support it. We will soon have two mokos in London and look forward to spoiling them.
"I might even have time to write an autobiography in Menglish. Many have told me there is a life after the mayor ... one door closes and another door opens."
Deputy Mayor Rehette Stolz announced last month she would be running to become the district's first female mayor.