Art Deco in Napier

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29 November 2019

We were greeted in Napier by a lovely sunny day and had an early start at 7:30 to meet our tour on the Hawkes Bay Express. The train which runs on the road and is pulled by a tractor underneath met us dockside and for about an hour and a half drove us all over the city with witty and also serious commentary. The city of Napier was hit by a devastating earthquake in February 1931 and what wasn’t destroyed by the quake was then destroyed by a fire that raged for 30 hours and could not be extinguished as the water mains were destroyed by the quake.

We drove around the city which was then rebuild under the plans of two men who allowed for wider roads for vehicles as they understood that the current vehicles would improve with time. Can you imagine how many committees and how much time this would take now? Given the time of the re-building it was decided that all buildings would be built in the art deco style of the times and this has continued with many today. Along with this theme there were singers in the street dressed for the era and many vintage cars for hire rides with the owners dressed in the same way.



Our tour took us to the old Customs House for a talk and a viewing of maps before and after the quake and back to the city. This building was not damaged in the earthquake as it has reinforced concrete and then set a standard for the new building. The fires also came down to this church which is about three blocks from the sea and just as it approached the wind changed. It has been lucky twice since.


After our tour we found some lovely scones and coffee and did a little shopping before also walking on the promenade. The beach here is made up of small black pebbles.


Another set of buildings pointed out to us was the Six Sisters which is a row of wooden houses built by their father for six sisters. Today they are well kept but contain businesses. 

After a shared lunch it was time to go back to the ship as we had an early departure at 2pm. Again we were farewelled with music and those vintage cars.


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