A national disaster resulted in Napier becoming one of the purest Art Deco cities in the world. On the morning of February 3rd 1931 a massive earthquake – 7.9 on the Richter scale – rocked Hawke’s Bay for more than three minutes. Nearly 260 lives were lost and the vast majority of buildings in the commercial centre of Napier were destroyed, either by the quake itself or the fires that followed.
Rebuilding began almost immediately, and much of it was completed in two years. New buildings reflected the architectural styles of the times – Stripped Classical, Spanish Mission and Art Deco. Local architect Louis Hay, an admirer of the great Frank Lloyd Wright, had his chance to shine. Maori motifs were employed to give the city a unique New Zealand character – for example, the ASB bank on the corner of Hastings and Emerson Streets features Maori koru and zigzags.
Magic Moments in Napier
A City Tour on the Hawkes Bay Express
The fabulous Art Deco Buildings
The Aquarium (left) and Hawkes Bay Port
You can read about our time in Napier here