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The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Auckland Provincial District]

Mr. Henry Brett

Mr. Henry Brett, Mayor of Auckland for 1878, was born in the south of England, and brought up to the printing business in the office of his uncle, the proprietor of the “Hastings and St. Leonard's Gazette.” He left for New Zealand with the Albertland special settlers in 1862, and on arrival in Auckland was engaged on the staff of the “Daily Southern Cross.” Shortly afterwards he joined the literary staff of the “New Zealand Herald,” and maintained his connection with that journal until he became associated with Mr. G. M. Reed in the proprietorship of the “Auckland Star.” By a bold, vigorous policy, and great exertions to procure the best telegraphic and general news, the paper proved one of the greatest successes known in New Zealand journalism. The Auckland Almanac and Handbook projected by the firm in 1872 has also proved a great success, and by continual addition to the plant and machinery of the office, the establishment has been raised from small beginnings to one of the best appointed general steam printing offices in the colony. Mr. Brett was the first to introduce into the Colony a plant for photo-engraving, and in 1890 he started the first illustrated paper, the “New Zealand Graphic. In February, 1876, Mr. Reed disposed of his interest to Mr. Brett, who then became sole proprietor. Mr. Brett's first introduction to public life was as chairman of the Parnell Highway Board, in July, 1874, by virtue of which office he held a seat on the Auckland Harbour Board. He was elected to the City Council of Auckland on the 10th of September, 1874, at the head of the poll, and at the expiration of his term, in 1876, was one of the eight candidates who contested the election, and was again returned at the top, leading by 283 votes over the next highest candidate. He became Mayor in November, 1878, without a contest. Mr. Brett has always taken a prominent part in musical matters, and has for several years been a member and chairman of the committee of the Choral Society. He sat for several years as page 126 a member of the City Improvement Commissioners; was on the committee of the Acclimatization Society, president of the Mechanics' Institute, and of the Amateur Athletic Club, and a director of several of the principal mines. As Mayor he held a seat on the Board of Governors of the Auckland College and Grammar School, and was vice-president of the Home for Neglected and Destitute Children, and a member of the Domain Board. In 1899, Mr. Brett was offered a seat in the Legislative Council, but he declined the offer. Mr. Brett is a Justice of the Peace for the Colony.