After staying for a few days in rural Maraekakaho, south of Hastings, the next stop on our ICA rally was to Napier for the Art Deco Weekend. The Art Deco Trust puts together a very full programme, and as first time attendees, everything was new to us. The highlight to us was the vintage car parade, with 300 pre-1946 cars registered. We spent some time admiring these beauties as they awaited the start of the parade. How did the passengers clamber up into those dickey seats and get settled while dressed to the nines, I wonder?
Lovingly restored vintage cars
In my opinion, there is nothing more thrilling than a pipe band - the Hawkes Bay Highland Pipe band started playing and got my toes tapping and my (diluted) Scots blood racing through the veins. Then there was the Royal New Zealand Navy Band looking extra smart in their white uniforms as they started playing before the parade – two great bands indeed.
Hawkes Bay Highland Band and the Royal NZ Navy Band
The navy played a crucial role in Napier during the 1931 earthquake. At 10:46 am on 3 February 1931 an earthquake registering 7.8 on the Richter scale shook throughout New Zealand, its epicentre just 15.2 kms north of Napier. The initial shock lasted for 2.5 minutes. In the city of Napier, buildings and chimneys toppled, roads broke apart and the earth heaved and opened. Water rushed out of the harbour as the ground rose. Veronica was ‘left high and dry, all the wire mooring lines broke, but the ropes, made from New Zealand flax, held, and prevented her from rolling over on her side.’ Commander Morgan landed rescue teams to assist the injured, feed the hungry and help establish a sense of order amidst the chaos. Fires were ablaze on shore, power and water supplies were cut and hundreds discovered they were homeless. Two merchant ships at anchor nearby, the Taranaki and Northumberland placed themselves under naval command and assisted in the relief efforts.
Once the car parade, the bands, and marching girls had moved off, it was time to make our way to see some of the other delights on show. Ladies walked by dressed in their beaded finery, fancy feather headdresses, and some sporting fox furs around their shoulders. The gents were also elegantly dressed, braces, hats, some in knickerbocker trousers too. My daughter Nicky was also in Napier enjoying the festivities and we arranged to meet further along the street. “You always want to take photos”, she complained. “That’s what mothers do”, I told her.
SIL Robert, daughter Nicky, and her friend Heather
There was a “Traction Trundle” taking place - look what fun this bunch of revelers are having. Other working vintage engines were on display. Flying displays by the Warbirds Display Team roared overhead. We watched as the planes flew in formation, and looped the loop. Then one would break away from the group, fly up high, then nose down seemingly in a suicide mission, luckily pulling up in the nick of time and continue on his way. Thrilling stuff indeed!
Vintage steam engines
Later in the afternoon our group had their own Best Dressed competition, and what a lovely bunch we were. After the judges put their heads together and made their decisions, the winners were announced, Best Dressed Couple, Best Dressed Lady, and Best Dressed Gentleman. Congratulations to the winners.
All dressed up
Our time at Napier experiencing Art Deco has come to an end, next stop is Kairakau on the east coast. That should be fun, we have never stayed there before.