About Napier City

Man walking around in the rubble after the 1931 earthquake.Hawke's Bay New Zealand, Art Deco City in Hawke's Bay Wine Country. Napier is known as the Art Deco Capital of the world.

Following a massive earthquake (7.9 on the Richter scale) on the morning of Tuesday 3 February 1931, fires destroyed most of the commercial heart of Napier. The city was rebuilt in the style of that era and by the end of the decade Napier was the newest city on the globe.

Nowhere else can you see such a variety of buildings in the styles of the 1930s - Stripped Classical, Spanish Mission, and above all Art Deco, the style of the 20th Century. Napier's Art Deco is unique, with Maori motifs and the buildings of Louis Hay, admirer of the great Frank Lloyd Wright.

Napier is enhanced by palms and the angular Norfolk Island pines and bounded by fertile fruit and grape growing plains, dramatic hills and the shores of the South Pacific. In Napier, you can enjoy the legacy of its brave rebuilding and savour the spirit of the optimistic Art Deco era.

The style we now call Art Deco originated in Europe in the early years of the 20th Century, and its heyday was from 1920 to 1940.

It became widely known following the great Exposition des Arts Modernes Decoratifs et Industriels, held in Paris in 1925 and from which its name was ultimately derived. By the late 1930s it was in its streamlined phase and after World War 2, the International Style, devoid of all decoration, held sway. Not until the late 1960s did people begin to rediscover it and take it seriously.

Art Deco expressed all the vigor and optimism of the roaring twenties, and the idealism and escapism of the grim thirties.

Its decorative themes are:

  • Sunbursts and fountains - representing the dawn of a new modern age.
  • The Skyscraper shape - symbolic of the 20th century.
  • Symbols of speed, power and flight - the exiting new developments in transport and communications.
  • Geometric shapes - representing the machine and technology which it was thought would solve all our problems.
  • The new woman - revelling in her recently won social freedoms.
  • Breaking the rules - cacophonous jazz, short skirts and hair, shocking dances.
  • Ancient cultures - for oddly enough, there was a fascination with the civilizations of Egypt and central America.
  • All of these themes are represented on the buildings of Napier, most of which are still standing today and are lovingly cared for by their owners.

Information supplied by Art Deco Trust  www.artdeconapier.com

Napier i-SITE Visitor Centre is one of Napier City Council's great facilities/services. There are many more...

Napier City Council

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National Aquarium of New Zealand

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Napier Libraries

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Bay Skate

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Napier Municipal Theatre

Unique Art Deco heritage has been preserved with the skilful addition of modern theatre facilities making it the best provincial performing arts centre in the nation.
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Par2 MiniGolf

Come to Par2 MiniGolf and meet Seamore the Seagull at our sea-side minigolf courses. Challenge your friends and family for a round.
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