The style known as Art Deco had its heyday between 1920 and 1940. A 7.8 Richter scale earthquake, and ensuing fires, destroyed most of central Napier in 1931. Within two years, the city was rebuilt, predominantly in Art Deco style, with Maori motifs and design elements incorporated.
Napier has 140 original Art Deco buildings and the care and protection of these buildings is managed by the Art Deco Trust. You will find many examples on Emerson, Tennyson and Hastings streets in Napier, including the Daily Telegraph building and Municipal Theatre. One of New Zealand’s most photographed buildings, the Louis Hay-designed National Tobacco Company offices, is in Bridge Street, Ahuriri.
Every year over 20 000 people opt to take a guided tour through its unique streets. Walking tours run every day rain or shine (except Christmas Day) and no bookings are necessary. Walks leave from the Napier i-SITE on Marine Parade every morning at 10am and afternoon tours leave from the Art Deco shop in Tennyson Street at 2pm.
Another popular option is to take a luxury Vintage Car tour with the Art Deco Trust and explore the City and its outskirts with one of the knowledgeable Art Deco guides.
If you want to see the sights at your own pace, grab one of several available Art Deco Tour booklets and go exploring. Buildings not to be missed include the National Tobacco Company in Ahuriri, The Daily Telegraph Building on Tennyson Street, the ASB Bank on Hastings Street, the residential homes of Marewa and Taradale’s McDonald’s “McDeco”, one of only two Art Deco McDonald’s in the world.
Today, Art Deco architecture symbolise the region’s ability to overcome disaster. Locals and visitors alike celebrate the success by revelling in the architecture heritage of Hawke’s Bay. The not to be missed celebration is the Geon Art Deco Weekend held in February every year, or Deco Decant in July for a mid-winter party.