Mayor of Napier, New Zealand

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The Mayor of Napier is the head of the municipal government of Napier City, New Zealand, and presides over the Napier City Council. Napier City is New Zealand's ninth largest city. The first mayor was elected in 1875. The current mayor is Bill Dalton.


The Māori sold a block of land called Ahuriri in 1851, and in 1853 Donald McLean bought the site that later became Napier. Alfred Domett, a future Prime Minister of New Zealand, was appointed as the Commissioner of Crown Lands and the resident magistrate at the village of Ahuriri. It was decided to place a planned town here, its streets and avenues were laid out, and the new town named for Sir Charles Napier.[1]

The area initially fell under the control of the Wellington Province. The New Provinces Act, 1858 created the Hawke's Bay Province and Napier became its capital. Superintendent John Davies Ormond worked towards Napier becoming self-governing, and it was designated as a borough in 1874. The first election for a borough council were held on 18 January 1875. Nine councillors were elected from 22 contestants, and the councillors chose Robert Stuart from their group as their first mayor. Stuart was mayor until December 1878.[1][2]

John Vautier succeeded Stuart from December 1878 until May 1882. At the first borough election in 1875, he had been the highest polling councillor. He was succeeded by Dr William Isaac Spencer from June 1882 to December 1885.[2]

George Henry Swan began his long mayoralty in December 1885. He held it until April 1901; at that time, he had the longest continuous mayoralty in New Zealand.[3]

John McVay succeeded Swan and was mayor from April 1901 to April 1902. Frederic Wanklyn Williams was mayor in 1902–1904.[2][4][5]

Samuel Carnell succeeded McVay in 1904. He was mayor until 1907.[2][6]

Vigor Brown was first elected mayor in 1907. During this first period, he retained the mayoralty for ten years until 1917.[6] He was succeeded by Henry Hill, who had made his name in the Hawke's Bay as a school inspector and educationalist. Hill held the mayoralty from 1917 to 1919.[7] Brown had a second period as mayor from 1919 to 1921, and was succeeded by J B Andrew from 1921 to 1927. Brown succeeded Andrew for his third period, this time from 1927 to 1933.[6] The 1931 Hawke's Bay earthquake fell into Brown's last period, and temporary governance arrangement included a Napier Citizens' Control Committee, followed by a two-man Government Commission. John Barton and L. B. Campbell were farewelled by the mayor in May 1933, when their term ended and the municipal affairs once again rested with the borough council.[1][8] The resulting mayoral election was contested by the incumbent and C O Morse, the chairman of the Earthquake Relief Committee.[9] The election caused great interest, and Morse and Brown received 4110 and 1808 votes, respectively. At the time, mayoral elections were held every two years, but the 1931 election had been skipped due to the earthquake.[10][11]

Morse was mayor until 1938, defeated by Bill Hercock[12] who had a twelve-year term (1938–1950). E R Spriggs succeeded Hercock from 1950 to 1956.[6]

Peter Tait was mayor from 1956 to 1974.[6] He was knighted the year after he ceased being mayor.

Barbara Arnot is the immediate past mayor. She was first elected in 2001.[13] Bill Dalton succeeded her in 2013.

Members of Parliament[edit]

Four Napier mayors have also served as Members of Parliament. All four represented the Napier electorate in the House of Representatives:[14]

List of Mayors of Napier[edit]

Name Image Term Notes
1 Robert Stuart
Robert Stuart.jpg
1875–1878 short bio
2 John Vautier
John Vautier.jpg
1878–1882 short bio
3 Dr William Isaac Spencer
William Isaac Spencer.jpg
1882–1885 short bio
4 George Henry Swan
George Henry Swan.jpg
1885–1901 [3]
5 John C. McVay
John McVay.jpg
1901–1902 short bio
6 Frederic Wanklyn Williams
Frederic Wanklyn Williams.jpg
1902–1904 autobiography
7 Samuel Carnell
Samuel Carnell.jpg
1904–1907 short bio
8 Vigor Brown
Vigor Brown, 1910.jpg
1907–1917 short bio
9 Henry Hill
Henry Thomas Hill.jpg
1917–1919 [7]
(8) Vigor Brown
Vigor Brown, 1910.jpg
1919–1921 second period
10 J B Andrew
J B Andrew.jpg
1921–1927 obituary
(8) Vigor Brown
Vigor Brown, 1910.jpg
1927–1933 third period
11 C O Morse
C O Morse.jpg
12 Bill Hercock
Bill Hercock.jpg
13 E R Spriggs
E R Spriggs.jpg
14 Sir Peter Tait
No image.png
15 Clyde Jeffery
No image.png
1974–1983 cemetery
16 A. D. Prebensen
No image.png
17 Alan Dick
No image.png
18 Barbara Arnott
No image.png
19 Bill Dalton
No image.png


  1. ^ a b c "History of Napier City Council". Napier City Council. Retrieved 1 November 2010. 
  2. ^ a b c d The Cyclopedia of New Zealand: Taranaki, Hawke’s Bay & Wellington Provincial Districts. Christchurch: Cyclopedia Company Limited. 1908. pp. 311–312. 
  3. ^ a b The Cyclopedia of New Zealand: Taranaki, Hawke’s Bay & Wellington Provincial Districts. Christchurch: Cyclopedia Company Limited. 1908. p. 303. 
  4. ^ "Early Memories and After". Williams family. Retrieved 6 November 2010. 
  5. ^ "Giants of business to feature in the Port of Napier Hawke's Bay Business Hall of Fame". Hawke's Bay Chamber of Commerce. 9 July 2010. Retrieved 6 November 2010. 
  6. ^ a b c d e "Previous Mayors". City of Napier. Retrieved 6 November 2010. 
  7. ^ a b Matthews, Kay Morris (22 June 2007). "Hill, Henry 1849–1933". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Retrieved 6 November 2010. 
  8. ^ "Napier Commissioners". The Evening Post. CXV (111). 13 May 1933. p. 12. Retrieved 8 December 2010. 
  9. ^ "Contests at Napier". The Evening Post. CXV (93). 21 April 1933. p. 8. Retrieved 8 December 2010. 
  10. ^ "Results Elsewhere". The Evening Post. CXV (103). 4 May 1933. p. 13. Retrieved 8 December 2010. 
  11. ^ "Many new members chosen". The Evening Post. CXV (103). 4 May 1933. p. 13. Retrieved 8 December 2010. 
  12. ^ "News of the day". The Evening Post. CXXVI (127). 25 November 1938. p. 8. Retrieved 8 December 2010. 
  13. ^ Carpinter, Bernard (11 October 2010). "Napier mayor sails to triple victory". The Dominion Post. Retrieved 6 November 2010. 
  14. ^ Wilson, James Oakley (1985) [First published in 1913]. New Zealand Parliamentary Record, 1840–1984 (4th ed.). Wellington: V.R. Ward, Govt. Printer. OCLC 154283103.