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The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Nelson, Marlborough & Westland Provincial Districts]



The West Coast has three boroughs, each of which is a seaport; namely, Hokitika, Greymouth and Westport; and Brunner, Kumara, and Ross also are boroughs. Hokitika became a municipality in the year 1866, Greymouth two years later, and West-port in 1873. Eighteen citizens have occupied the mayoral chair of Hokitika; and of these Mr. H. L. Michel was Mayor for nine years, and Mr. J. Mandl (Mayor in 1905) for seven years.

The Hon. James Alexander Bonar, formerly a member of the Legislative Council, was the first Mayor of Hokitika, and held office for about two years, before the incorporation of the borough in 1868. Mr. Bonar is further referred to in other articles.

Mr. Evan Prosser was the second Mayor of Hokitika, and held office in the year 1868. He was in business in Hokitika as a chemist and druggist, and subsequently became an page 489 original partner of the well known firm of Kempthorne, Prosser and Company, Limited. Mr. Prosser was a member of the first County Council of Westland, and subsequently held a seat on the Provincial Council. He eventually removed to Sydney, where he opened a branch of his firm. It is said that he afterwards made a fortune out of Broken Hill mining speculations. Mr. Prosser died in New South Wales.

Mr. Charles Edward Button was the third Mayor of Hokitika, and was elected in the year 1869. He is further referred to on pages 110–111 of the Auckland volume of this work.

Mr. Samuel Boyle was Mayor of Hokitika in the year 1869–70. He was for some years a grain merchant in the town, but subsequently became a settler in the Canterbury district.

Mr. James B. Clarke was Mayor of Hokitika during part of the year 1871. He was well known in the borough as the proprietor of a furniture business, which he conducted for many years. Mr. Clarke subsequently removed to Tasmania, where he died.

Mr. J. M. Higgin was Mayor of Hokitika in the year 1871. He was well educated and did good work in the borough. For some time Mr. Higgin carried on business as a chemist and druggist in Revell Street, and subsequently removed to the Palmerston North district, where he died.

Mr. William Todd was Mayor of Hokitika during the year 1872–73. He subsequently removed to Inverargill, and is further referred to on page 869 of the Otago volume of this Cyclopedia.

Mr. Francis Christopher Tabart was Mayor of Hokitika during the year 1874–75. Subsequently, be became a settler in the Canterbury district, and was a well known auctioneer in Christchurch for many years. Mr. Tabart is further referred to on page 372 of the Canterbury volume of this Cyclopedia.

Mr. McLean Watt Jack was Mayor of Hokitika for the years 1876–77, and officially received the Marquis of Normanby when he visited the West Coast. Mr. Jack was an energetic man, and carried on business in Hokitika for many years in Bealey Street, as a contractor and an untertaker.

Mr. Frederick A. Learmonth was Mayor of Hokitika in the years 1878–1879. He was a member of the auctioneering firm of Learmonth and Wade, with which he was connected for a number of years. Mr. Learmonth subsequently became general manager of the South British insurance Company at Capetown, South Africa.

Mr. John Cross was Mayor of Hokitika in the year 1881. He was a cabinetmaker, and proprietor of the “Railway Hotel.”

Mr. William Llewellin Fowler was Mayor of Hokitika from 1882 to 1885. He was born in the year 1834, in Gloucestershire, England, where he was educated and learned the drapery trade. About 1856, he arrived in Australia, and at once entered into hotel-keeping at Carisbrook for a few months. Mr. Fowler then went to Hay, in New South Wales, where he followed his trade, and travelled throrough the country districts with considerable
The late Mr. W. L. Fowler.

The late Mr. W. L. Fowler.

profit. In 1865, when the West Coast “rush” set in, he crossed over to New Zealand, and at once established himself in business in Hokitika, in a small, unpretentious building. Mr. Fowler soon built up a good business connection, and was compelled to enlarge his premises. At the time of his death he occupied the largest drapery establishment in Hokitika, and it was well known throughout the Coast as the “West of England” house. Mr. Fowler was a borough councillor for many years, a member of the Charitable Aid Board and Benevolent Society, an active adherent of the English Church, and a member of its choir for eight years. Mr. Fowler, who was generous to a fault, had been a widower for many years. He died on the 5th of July, 1898.

Mr. John Tait , J. P., was Mayor of Hokitika in the year 1885–86. He was first elected as a member of the Borough Council in 1869, and served for a number of years. Mr. Tait is well known in Hokitika as the local photographer. He is a trustee of the Hokitika Benevolent Society, and of the Westland Hospital, and a member of the Licensing Committee.

Mr. Henry Leslie Michel was Mayor of Hokitika during the years 1896–7, and from 1897 to 1903, and was also a member of the Borough Council from 1885 to the conclusion of his mayoralty in 1903. His municipal policy was always of a progressive nature. He was chairman of the first Charitable Aid Board when the Act of 1885 was brought into force. Mr. Michel has been for many years associated with the Westland Education Board, Harbour Board, and High School Board, and as a Freemason he is Superintendent of the Westland and Nelson district under the New Zealand Constitution. He has been captain of the Fire Brigade for about twenty-five years, and is a past president of the Fire Brigade Association of New Zealand. Mr. Michel was born in Newcastle. New South Wales, in 1858, and when a youth landed at Hokitika, where he has followed commercial pursuits. Since the age of fourteen he has been in the firm of which he is now proprietor. Mr. Michel has always willingly helped the promotion of useful local objects, and is president of numerous clubs and societies. In the year 1887, he received a numerously-signed requisition to page 490 stand for Parliament, but declined to accede to the request.

Mr. Charles E. Holmes was Mayor of Hokitika for the years 1888–89, and is said to have been the youngest man to hold the office. He is a son of the Hon. J. Holmes, and is at present (1905) a resident of Christchurch.

Mr. Henry Lee Robinson was Mayor of Hokitika in the year 1892. He was proprietor of the business conducted under the style of Mark Sprott and Company. Mr. Robinson officially received Lord Onslow when he visited Westland. He died in Hokitika.

Mr. Robert Wentworth Wade , who was Mayor of Hokitika in the year 1893–94, was at one time partner in the firm of Learmonth and Wade. He was well known as an auctioneer, and as deputy official assignee for Westland, and had been previously connected with the Bank of New South Wales as ledger-keeper at Hokitika. Mr. Wade died at Capetown, shortly after his arrival in South Africa, in the year 1903.

Mrs H. L. Michel.

Mrs H. L. Michel.