Invercargill Mayor Tim Shadbolt has failed in his attempt to remove his deputy through a motion of no-confidence.
Mr Shadbolt and his deputy, Neil Boniface, have been involved in a long-running public stoush.
The mayor sought to have Mr Boniface removed at a special council meeting on Monday but lost the no-confidence motion following a heated debate.
Mr Boniface will remain as deputy mayor.
Many councillors say they are shocked at the way Mr Shadbolt has handled the affair and now want to put the saga behind them, suggesting the Southland city's reputation has been tarnished.
Councillor Norman Elder tried to have the meeting shut down, but was overruled by chairperson Mr Shadbolt.
Eight councillors voted to keep Mr Boniface as deputy mayor. Two councillors voted against, and two abstained.