Mr. John Helier Vautier
was the second Mayor of Napier, and held office from December, 1878, to the 29th of May, 1882. He was born in Jersey, in the year 1834, and is a son of the late Mr. John Vautier, farmer, of St. Martin's. He was educated and brought up to the building trade in his native island, and in 1854 went to Liverpool, England, and sailed in the ship “Lightning” for Victoria. After a smart run of seventy-six days, the “Lightning” arrived in Melbourne, and there Mr. Vautier remained until 1855, when he left for Wellington in the brig “Onkaparinga,” reaching that port at the time of the disastrous earthquake which occured about three hours later. Mr. Vautier has very lively recollections of the effect produced on shore by the great shock. Towards the end of 1857 Mr. Vautier went to Nelson, and tried gold-mining at Collingwood, but soon after removed to Napier. Hawke's Bay was then a very sparsely-settled district, and when Mr. Vautier arrived, the hill, or collection of hills, which is now the pride of the borough, was covered with ferns. There was only one hotel in the town, and as the demand for houses and stores was great the advent of a builder was mutually satisfactory. As this demand slackened, Mr. Vautier entered into business as a coal and general merchant, and from this gradually became a ship-owner on a fairly large and remunerative scale. In 1885 he sold out his vessels, and since then has spent his time in looking after his landed properties, and serving the public in a variety of ways. On the occasion of the first Borough Council election, Mr. Vautier was returned at the head of the poll, and he was chairman of the public works committee until he was elected Mayor. He was made a life member of the Napier Harbour Board by the Governor, but on the repeal of the
Mr. J. H Vautier.
Act, under which the appointment was made, he became a member by virtue of his office as Mayor; on the expiration of his ex-officio term, he was re-appointed by the Government, and was afterwards re-nominated to the Board from time to time. Mr. Vautier was one of the trustees of the Napier Savings Bank throughout its entire existence of thirty-six years. In the year 1861 he married a daughter of Mr. Edward Touet, a well-known and successful Nelson colonist. Mrs. Vautier died in November, 1893, leaving one daughter and three sons.