In the morning, we again drove down into town, parked up, and went for breakfast at Café Divine, where Nicola immediately ran in to one of her colleagues from the Wellington City Chorus. When I could drag her away we ordered cooked breakfasts, then headed along the road to the i-site to book ourselves on a guided walk around Napier at 10am.
Before the walk could begin, we had a look around the Napier Easter vintage car show. A whole bunch of cars (and the occasional truck) were parked in the Colonnade, so we took some pictures of them.
|Ant Hill Mob Car|
We set out on the walk, and our guide explained about how and why Napier is the Art Deco capital of the world. For the long version, read this, but the short version is that, after the earthquake in 1931, the city’s planners, along with the New Zealand government, decided to rebuild using the styles that had become fashionable since the mid-20s – what we now characterise as Art Deco, Art Nouveau, Stripped Classical, the Arts & Crafts style, and Spanish Mission style architecture…although at the time this was all lumped together under the banner “Modernist”. In only two years, the city centre was rebuilt. Also, several buildings which had been recently built at the time of the earthquake survived, and these are also part of the history of the town. Of the 164 buildings erected between 1920 and 1940, 140 are still there today.
Amongst the significant developments of the Art Deco style is the former Bank Of New Zealand building, now occupied by ASB. This is one of the few buildings to incorporate Maori designs into the decoration.
|Maori fern and wave designs on the BNZ building|
Other buildings show the continuing connection to the
UK in New Zealand, such as this one that incorporates Liberty’s of into its stained glass. London
Whilst many of the original buildings still stand, a lot of the shop fronts and glass have been replaced. Fortunately some remain, such as this one, the Crown Of Thorns design:
Charles Rennie Mackintosh was a strong influence on the Arts & Crafts and Art Nouveau movements; his trademark rose motif is found in many stained glass works, like this now sadly defunct music shop:
After the tour we watched a short film about the earthquake and subsequent rebuilding, then went out again to look at the the city with our new-found knowledge. In amongst the ordinary shops of the city, there are a fair few antique shops that specialise in 1930s artefacts and clothing. We wandered into a couple and found out that, amongst other things, those 1920s-style beaded dresses weigh a ton! They’re full of hand-stitched glass beads, and they hadn’t figured out how to make lightweight ones.
After a spot of lunch we then headed back towards Bay View (where we're staying)...to check out a vineyard there. More on that later.