Author(s): Graham Stewart
Napier today is a tourist destination for New Zealanders and overseas visitors, a popular port of call for tourist ships. In 1931 the population of the town was just over 16,000, today the population is over 57,000. It is one of New Zealand's warmest regions on the Pacific Ocean coastline of the East Coast of the North Island. This wooden Victorian town was replaced after the 1931 earthquake and fire with the fashionable architecture vogue of the 1930s, the modern American style of the era which is known today as Art Deco. In February each year Napier hosts an Art Deco weekend with wine, food, jazz, dancing, vintage cars, plane rides and a variety of entertainment, showcasing one of the most outstanding collections of Art Deco buildings in the world. Maori, like Europeans, found the Hawke's Bay a fruit bowl for harvesting and a climate ideal for a good life. Cook passed by in October 1769 and the French visited the bay in 1827. Whalers made Ahuriri a depot and a trading place in the 1830s, and William Colenso founded the Waitangi mission station by the Ngaruroro River near Clive in 1844. The Crown purchased the Ahuriri block including the site of Napier in 1851. Named after Sir Charles Napier, the hero of the Battle of Meeanee, the town became a borough in 1874 and the provincial capital in 1858. The country's oldest winery was established in 1865 at The Mission vineyards at Greenmeadows.
Graham Stewart is the author of 16 books including The End of the Penny Section, The Tangiwai Disaster - a Christmas Eve Tragedy, Auckland Before the Harbour Bridge, Wellington - Portrait of a Region and New Zealand - Portrait of a Nation. He was a photographer with the fomer Napier daily newspaper the Daily Telegraph from 1959 to 1964.