Māori won't be represented with their own seats at the Palmerston North City Council table.
Poll results show more than 14,000 people voted against having a Māori ward, while fewer than 7000 voted in favour.
Mayor Grant Smith says although he's disappointed, the poll allowed democracy to take place and he's pleased with the level of engagement - 37 percent of eligible voters.
Mr Smith says Māori representation is unique to New Zealand, and local government is the only area where we don't have it.
The organiser of the anti- Māori seat petition which sparked the vote, Don Esselmont, told Stuff it would have been "astounding" if Palmerston North voted for the Māori seat.
"The Mayor and councillors who supported Māori wards simply do not understand opinions in Palmerston North. [They] should be ashamed of their lack of understanding."
The official results will be released on Thursday, but the lopsided count makes it virtually impossible the result will go the other way.
The petition was backed by Hobson's Pledge, a group that wants to do away with what it calls "race-based" rules.