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Napier Art Deco Celebrations

Fun entrants for parade

For many years now, Napier has been celebrating the dramatic change from the earthquake.  For one week each February, thousands of visitors from around the world, come to experience hospitality, and the many exciting activities within the area.

There are 1930’s themed picnics, concerts, soirees and vintage car displays.

The BBC World Service Deco Paraderecently rated this event as one of the top ten international events for February, beaten only by The Rio Carnival and Japan’s Ice Festival.

Every year there is something new added to involve all who come to participate.It is unusual to find local residents who are not dressed in 1930’s clothing. Including most shop keepers.

The 2015 Art Deco Celebration begins in the week of February 17th with the main events taking place on the 20th/21st/22nd of February.

Join an ”Art Deco” walk, swing and dance to the music of jazz bands, and be part of the Gatsby Picnic on Sunday 20th February, concluding the day at the “Swing and a Prayer” in St John’s Cathedral.

We invite you to join the people of Napier to experience something unique, but Remember to book accommodation well in advance.

Belles of the ball


Morning tea time on Tuesday February the 3rd 1931,was shattered in Napier and Hawke’s Bay, by the force of a 7.8 earthquake, killing 256 people. The quake lasted two and a half minutes with 525 aftershocks recorded over the following two weeks.

Nearly all buildings in the central areas of Napier and Hastings were leveled. The death toll included 161 people in Napier, 93 in Hastings, and two in Wairoa. Thousands more were injured, with over 400 hospitalised.

The local landscape changed dramatically, with the coastal areas around Napier being lifted by around two metres. Some 40 km² of sea-bed became dry land, where the airport, housing and industrial property developments now exist.

The most noticeable land change was the uplifting of the Ahuriri Lagoon. The lagoon was lifted more than 2.7 metres which resulted in draining 2230 hectares of the lagoon. Today, the area is farmland and where the Hawke’s Bay Airport is located.

The death toll might have been much higher had the Royal Navy ship HMS Veronica not been in port at the time. Within minutes of the shock the Veronica had sent radio messages asking for help. The sailors joined survivors to fight the fires, rescue trapped people and help give them medical treatment. The Veronica’s radio was used to transmit news of the disaster to the outside world and to seek assistance. As news spread, two other ships travelling nearby joined the rescue workers. Two cruisers, HMS Diomede and HMS Dunedin were dispatched from Auckland that afternoon with food, tents, medicine, blankets, and a team of doctors and nurses. The cruisers sailed at high speed overnight, arrived on 4 February and provided valuable assistance in all areas until their departure on 11 February.


It is often said that out of adversity comes the courage, and determination to recover. It would have been easy to walk away from it all, but the people of Napier set about to rebuild, and in doing so we now have a city unique in character and style. The 1930’s was a period when Art Deco was fashionable, with the result that by 1933 we had a city that is now regarded as one of the finest examples of Art Deco in New Zealand, and indeed the world. It is a city like no other.