Mayor of Wellington

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Mayor of Wellington City
Wellington COA.gif
Coat of arms of the City of Wellington
Justin Lester.jpg
Justin Lester

since October 2016
Style His/Her Worship
Seat Wellington Town Hall
Term length Three years
Inaugural holder George Hunter
Formation 3 October 1842
Deputy Paul Eagle
Salary $167,800[1]
Website official website

The Mayor of Wellington City is the head of the municipal government of Wellington, New Zealand, and presides over the Wellington City Council. Adjacent local bodies - Lower Hutt, Upper Hutt, and Porirua - have their own mayors. The Mayor is directly elected using STV.

The current Mayor is Justin Lester, elected in October 2016.[2]


The development of local government in Wellington was erratic. The first attempt to establish governmental institutions, the so-called "Wellington Republic", was short lived and based on rules written by the New Zealand Company. Colonel William Wakefield was to be the first President.

When the self-proclaimed government arrested a ship's captain for a violation of Wellington law, the Governor William Hobson quickly asserted British sovereignty over the whole of New Zealand, sending a contingent of soldiers to disband the council in Wellington.

In January 1842, the Legislative Council in Auckland passed the Municipal Corporations Ordinance, and in May 1842 Wellington was officially proclaimed a borough, the first municipality with this status. The office of mayor was established, but there were only two holders of this office under the Ordinance.

George Hunter received the most votes in the election for 12 Burgesses to the new council on 3 October 1842 and was declared mayor. He died suddenly on 19 July 1843. William Guyton was then declared mayor, as runner-up in 1842.

The British Government disallowed the Municipal Corporations Ordinance, but news of this did not reach Wellington until late September 1843, after the election had been held and a second Burgess Roll of qualified voters had been prepared, in 1843 (both Rolls are listed in Carman). After a brief period of little local government, the Province of Wellington was established in 1852, and most of Wellington's affairs were handled by the provincial government.

Initially, the councillors elected one of their own as mayor towards the end of the year. The role was traditionally awarded to the longest serving councillor. The system changed upon the introduction of The Municipal Corporations Acts Amendment Act, 1875. It legislated that mayors must be elected at large by eligible voters.[3] The inaugural mayoral election was held in 1875 resulting in William Hutchison being the first mayor to be elected by voters.[4]

In 1863, a Town Board was established with three wards (Thorndon, Lambton, Te Aro), but no Mayor.

On 16 September 1870, Wellington was officially incorporated as a city, and a new mayoralty created, which continues. The establishment of the new council was primarily driven by John Plimmer, called by some the Father of Wellington.

Since then the office of Mayor has been held by 34 people. Five people have been Mayor on two separate occasions, and the longest-serving Mayor was Sir Frank Kitts, from 1956 to 1974.

Recent mayors[edit]

Six former mayors are alive:

Of the mayors elected since Frank Kitts (1956–1974) only one has died —

List of Mayors of Wellington[edit]

Colour key
(for political parties)
# Name Portrait Term of Office
- George Hunter George Hunter (mayor).jpg 1842 1843
- William Guyton William Guyton.jpg 1843
1 Joseph Dransfield Joseph Dransfield.jpg 1870 1873
2 Charles Borlase Charles Borlase.jpg 1874 1875
3 William Sefton Moorhouse William Sefton Moorhouse1.jpg 1875
4 William Hutchison William Hutchison, 1882.jpg 1875 1877
(1) Joseph Dransfield Joseph Dransfield.jpg 1878 1879
5 George Allen George Allen (mayor).jpg 1879
(4) William Hutchison William Hutchison, 1882.jpg 1879 1882
6 George Fisher George Fisher, ca 1890s.jpg 1882 1885
7 Arthur Winton Brown Arthur Winton Brown.jpg 1886 1887
8 Samuel Brown Samuel Brown.jpg 1887 1888
9 John Duthie John Duthie, ca 1900.jpg 1889 1890
10 Charles Johnston Charles Johnston, Speaker of NZ Legislative Chamber 1915–1918.jpg 1890 1891
(7) Arthur Winton Brown Arthur Winton Brown.jpg 1891 1892
11 Francis Bell Sir Francis Henry Dillon Bell, ca 1924.jpg 1892 1893
12 Alfred Brandon Mayor Alfred de Bathe Brandon.jpg 1894 1895
13 Charles Luke Charles Manley Luke.jpg 1895 1896
(6) George Fisher George Fisher, ca 1890s.jpg 1896 1897
(11) Francis Bell Sir Francis Henry Dillon Bell, ca 1924.jpg 1897 1898
14 John Blair John Rutherford Blair.jpg 1898 1899
15 John Aitken John Guthrie Wood Aitken, ca 1902-1908.jpg 1900 1905
16 Thomas William Hislop Thomas William Hislop, 1908.jpg 1905 1909
17 Alfred Newman Alfred Kingcome Newman.jpg 1909 1910
18 Thomas Wilford Thomas Wilford, 1909.jpg 1910 1912
19 David McLaren David McLaren.jpg 1912 1913
20 John Luke John-Pearce Luke (cropped).jpg 1913 1921
21 Robert Alexander Wright Robert Alexander Wright.jpg 1921 1925
22 Charles Norwood Charles Norwood.jpg 1925 1927
23 George Troup George Alexander Troup (1863–1941) by Stanley Polkinghorne Andrew (c.1879-1964) in 1927.jpg 1927 1931
24 Thomas Hislop T. C. A. Hislop.jpg 1931 1944
25 Will Appleton Will Appleton.jpg 1944 1950
26 Robert Macalister Robert Macalister.jpg 1950 1956
27 Frank Kitts Frank Kitts.jpg 1956 1974
28 Michael Fowler No image.png 1974 1983
29 Ian Lawrence No image.png 1983 1986
30 James Belich No image.png 1986 1992
31 Fran Wilde FranWilde.png 1992 1995
32 Mark Blumsky Blumsky.png 1995 2001
33 Kerry Prendergast Kerry Prendergast.jpg 2001 2010
34 Celia Wade-Brown Celia Wade-Brown, 2013.jpg 2010 2016
35 Justin Lester Justin Lester.jpg 2016 present


  1. ^ Hendry, Simon (2 May 2016). "Mayors and councillors' pay will increase by between 1.5 and 3 per cent from July". The Dominion Post. Retrieved 5 October 2016. 
  2. ^ "Election 2016: Progress Results for the Mayor". Wellington City Council. Wellington City Council. 8 October 2016. Retrieved 08/10/2016.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  3. ^ "Municipal Corporations Acts Amendment Act 1875". University of Auckland. 21 October 1875. Retrieved 20 April 2013. 
  4. ^ "The Mayoralty Election". The Evening Post. XII (143). 15 December 1875. p. 2. Retrieved 31 March 2016. 
  5. ^ Forbes, Michael (15 September 2015). "Former Wellington mayor Sir James Belich dies at age 88". The Dominion Post. Retrieved 15 September 2015. 


  • Wellington: Biography of a City by Redmer Yska (2006, Reed Books, Auckland) ISBN 9780790011172
  • Betts on Wellington: A City and its Politics by G. M. Betts (1970, Reed, Wellington) ISBN 0-589-00469-7
  • The Birth of a City: Wellington 1840–1843 by A. H. Carman (1970, Wright & Carman, Wellington)
  • No Mean City by Stuart Perry (1969 booklet, Wellington City Council) includes a paragraph and a portrait or photo of each mayor, including Hunter & Guyton.

External links[edit]