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Mr Cairns, who has spent three terms on the regional council, two of those as chairman, has decided to stand down to concentrate his "energies" on his role as branch manager of Colliers International, a commercial real estate consultancy.
"I've enjoyed 95% of my regional council work, but it's time to go, to move on."
As well as his regional council position, Mr Cairns, for the past three years, had been chairman of Local Government New Zealand's (LGNZ) regional affairs committee and, as a result, an executive member of LGNZ. He also held the environment portfolio for the executive.
"Then I launched a new business so, in effect, I had 2.5 jobs."
Mr Cairns had no other political aspirations, "having been through the process", he said.
He felt he had done some "pretty good things" in his nine years on the council, including helping build good relationships with the region's mayors, helping chief executive Graeme Martin and his team with the culture of the organisation, and had had some "pleasing" policy wins.
He was also proud of the part he played in the Forsyth Barr Stadium process and "would not have done anything different". Less enjoyable had been the "nastiness" over the stadium and the conflict of interest claims made by two fellow councillors.
"It was not fun but we got through that and still work well together as a team."