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He left councillors with a "record of the potential need for the following moves" - development of a new regional policy statement in direct consultation with district councils, developing comprehensive river management strategies and increasing Otago's prosperity by "overtly supporting others".
Mr Martin also said he had learnt a lot from councillors during his 19 years with the council, including the "art of the possible".
He also admitted his style meant people did not "die wondering" what he thought.
"I make no apology for it, but I appreciate at times I was relatively head on."
Corporate services director Wayne Scott, who was the council's next longest-serving staff member, said Mr Martin cared more about principles than about popularity.
Having a boss who would "stomp over" whoever was in front of them to pursue his vision for Otago made it easy to work for him.
No-one would ever know the "paths" Mr Martin had taken to support his staff, he said.
Cr Duncan Butcher, who was on the council that hired Mr Martin, said Otago was better for his contribution.
He had learnt over the years from Mr Martin to try to think ahead.
Cr David Shepherd said Mr Martin had built a regional council with "rock solid" foundations and it was up to the council to maintain his legacy.
Mr Martin finishes at the regional council tomorrow and the new chief executive begins later this month.