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My hometown Napier, North Island New Zealand


By dwyllis


As my back is still not up to sitting for a long period at our main computer, where all the photos of our time in America are located, I thought I would show some pics of my hometown. Napier is situated on the sunny East Coast of the North Island in an area called Hawke’s Bay. It’s earthquake country & the entire city area of Napier came down in a big quake in February 1931 at around 11am. A lot of the beautiful Victorian homes on Bluff Hill overlooking the city were damaged ….& parts of the hospital up on the hill, with the Nurses’ Home collapsing & claiming the lives of a number of nurses sleeping after night duty. The city was rebuilt, providing much-needed employment for builders & carpenters in the Great Depression. As the land had been pushed up by 7 feet, land formerly under the sea was drained off & built upon, providing even more employment ….so there was a silver lining & this is how my parents came to live in Napier. Rebuilt in the modern style of the time, Napier is now one of the most famous Art Deco style cities in the world. People come from all over the globe to spend time rambling about the small city, & a big annual festival is held to celebrate it’s fame ……called the Art Deco Weekend, both locals & many tourists dress up in 1930s style & dance in the streets & generally have a wonderful time. As a child growing up in Napier, I really did not appreciate its uniqueness, but I do love returning to my hometown, also known as The Riveria of NZ. I hope members will enjoy looking through these photos …..

Below is St John’s Cathedral with beautiful big Jacaranda trees nearby. The original cathedral came down in the quake, trapping a well-known middle-aged society woman beneath a huge roof beam. Men struggled frantically to free her, but could not do so. With fires from broken gas pipes raging around them, the young Dr present at the scene, did the only thing he could & gave the poor lady an overdose of morphine …a mercy killing so that she would not die a horrible death. It haunted him for the rest of his life.

Lovely view from the beach towards Cape Kidnappers ….which is now the site of one of the world’s biggest Gannet sanctuaries. I played on this beach as a child, as my home was nearby.

Flowers growing wild on the beach ….I think they are Caifornian Poppies …flowers are closed.

This piece of marshy land was part of a huge piece of land reclaimed from the sea in the quake ….it is now used as a Wetland Reserve & is home to many unusual wild fowl.

More flowers growing wild on the beach.

Lovely view of land next to the Napier Airport.

Another area of land reclaimed from the sea in the 1931 quake, now being used as Wetland Reserve.

Nice view over coastal area.

Built in 1932 …..this lovely Art Deco building was built as the Napier Fire Station, but in recent years has been converted into a large shop selling Art Deco decorative pieces.

Full-size bronze statue of an Art Deco society lady walking her dog ….recently-commissioned & placed on the pavement in the main shopping street in Napier.

Pretty area along the Marine Parade. People picnic in this area on Art Deco Weekend, & enjoy a champagne breakfast from purchased hampers to the accompaniment of music from the movie The Great Gatsby.

Very tall slender palm trees in Clive Square.

Beautiful rugged coastline around Napier.

Napier after the 1931 earthquake.

Big bronze statue on the Marine Parade …. Pania of the Reef …..Maori legend has it that a beautiful young daughter of a local Maori Chief, fell in love with a young man from another tribe, who tragically drowned in the sea trying to swim to her. The distraught young woman swam out to the reef which his body had washed up on, & held him in her arms until the two of them were washed into the sea in the rising tide. Pania was never seen again.

View over the sea from Bluff Hill ( formerly known as Scinde Island, but connected to the mainland in an earlier quake).

People enjoying Art Deco Weekend …. Showing the lovely landmark domed T&G building in background.

Napier is a well-known vineyard area, with a number of large wine estates.

Commemorative plague.

White water rafting on the Moharka River.

Major land slip after a more recent quake in Napier area ….thankfully it was discovered before a train went hurtling over that track suspended in fresh air.

More lovely coastline around the Bay.

Majestically rugged hill-country.

Called The Spirit of Napier, this Naked lady has been sculpted in Art Deco style as greets one as they enter Napier along the Marine Parade.

More earthquake damage 1931

Below is the only large inner city building to survive the quake. It’s an ornate building with copper ornamentation
& some stunning plasterwork on the ceilings inside.

Clive Square showing the beautiful Jacaranda trees in full bloom.

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What a wonderful and informative blog dwyllis really enjoyed it, stunning place to grow up, I love the art deco style, the bronze of the lady and her dog is gorgeous...............
My niece moved to New Zealand for a couple of years after falling in love with it while back packing when she was younger, she moved back to the UK last year though after having her first child, not the same when the family were so far away to share all those baby firsts with :-)

22 Oct, 2012


What a lovely place, and with all that history too, so interesting Dwyllis, stunning pictures. I love the statue of the Maori girl, beautiful. Thanks for showing these. Hope you continue to make good progress.

22 Oct, 2012


Beautiful so beautiful, what a fantastic blog. Loved all the pictures and the scenery is something very special. Tragic that quakes cause so much damage but amazing how the human population copes and rebuilds so fantastically. Thank you for an informative and beautiful blog. :O)

22 Oct, 2012


Beautiful place, but nature can be so strong.

22 Oct, 2012


Its a lousy day here Dwyllis, so to find this blog has really cheered me up, I always enjoy learning the history of places and you have provided not only the smashing photo`s but also some very interesting facts of what looks to be a well cared for town, its always amazed me to see how folk rebuild on an area already destroyed by nature in the past, its almost as though one is telling her that she will not win as us humans will continue to persevere, we as gardeners do it as well, lol.
Wonderful photo`s, you live in a beautiful place, many thanks for sharing, sorry to hear that your injury is still giving you some jip, take care....

22 Oct, 2012


How beautiful and educational, thank you very much.
I do not know much about this part of the world, so your best bet is putting it here for others like me. Some of your photos are like "National Geographic origin" sort of, especially those coastal ones I love very much. I felt in a moment, as the sea is calling me :)))

22 Oct, 2012


Thank you Dwyllis. Very thoughtful and educational.

22 Oct, 2012


A beautiful blog of a beautiful place, thank you so much! If there was only one tree I could have that did not grow here normally it would be a jacaranda, so it was great to see these beauties in full flower.

22 Oct, 2012


What a smashing blog Dwyllis. I so enjoyed it. The bronzes are beautiful aren't they and the scenery is a dream. What a lovely place to call home........

22 Oct, 2012


Thanks for the great comments everyone. I'm so glad people have enjoyed this blog. Some of these photos are are ones I have taken & some are photos others have taken. I think as young people, we often take the beauty of our hometowns for granted & only truly appreciate these areas which have a special place in our hearts, as we grow into maturity. From the age of seventeen until the age of 48, I lived mostly outside of NZ, but my first child was born in Napier, & my second was born in Hastings, just 15 minutes drive inland, so I always returned for "special events" in my life. My parents continued to live in Napier until their late eighties & early nineties, & now my youngest son, born in Jordan in the Middle East, lives there, so I suspect I will continue visiting my hometown for many years to come. As I still have lots of photos of Napier, I will do a second blog shortly.

22 Oct, 2012


Lovely pic's

22 Oct, 2012


Fascinating history, wonderful photos and an amazing blog Dwyllis..This has been a real treat to read..

23 Oct, 2012


Thank you for all that interesting information Dwyllis.
And the beautiful pictures.

26 Oct, 2012

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