We spent this afternoon on an Art Deco Tour of Napier city. Run by the Art Deco Trust - we were given a 20-minute introduction to the history of Napier and the earthquake which, with the ensuing fire, devastated the city in 1931. Rebuilt in the ensuing 2 years, the Art Deco style was the preferred style for reconstruction, although many buildings are also built in the stripped Classical and Spanish Mission styles.
Art Deco is, perhaps, what Napier is best known for as there's plenty of it! The earthqauke, being in 1931, came in the middle of the depression and the height of the Art Deco style - the speed of rebuilding, resulting from an abundance of labour, and the design reflect the times and the courage of the Napier people in facing upto the challenges in front of them.
Many of the buildings incorporate parts of the Moari or Polynesian designs and patterns. This is probably ascribed to the emphasis of Art Deco and Maori arts on geometry and symmetry.
The ASB building at the end of Hastings Street is one of the most notable banking buildings in town. Actually, it's one of the most notable buildings in town. The scale of the building is, in itself, impressive but the decoration extensively incoporates Maori design which compliments the design of Art Deco buildings. The high cielings have been preserved in their original condition - the addition of new offices with low cielings is flattering in that it allows the business to continue while preserving the visibility of the original cieling for the enjoyment of the patrons.
Elsewhere in the CBD, the AMP Building (Tennyson Street) is one of the most noteworthy examples of the Art Deco of the period. Somewhat prophetically, the high ceilinged building is decorated with grapes and vines - the building now houses the New Zealand Wine Centre which has an excellent offering of New Zealand wines and regular videos on Hawkes Bay wines.
The Public Trust Building (pictured right) is the only building in the CBD which survived the earthquake and fire of 1931. It's clearly identifiable for being on the only non-"shaved" corner of the CBD and, also, for its impressive size and adherence to the classical style.
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Mark Sukhija is a travel and wine blogger, photographer, tourism researcher, hat-touting, white-shirt-wearing, New Zealand fantatic and eclipse chaser. Aside from at least annual visits to New Zealand, Mark has seen eclipses in South Australia (2002), Libya (2006), China (2009) and Queensland (2012). After twelve years in Switzerland, Mark moved back to London in 2012. You can follow Mark on Twitter or Facebook