Napier was destroyed by earthquake and fire in 1931 and rebuilt in the styles of the times.
About the Trust
The Art Deco Trust is a guardian, a storyteller, and an interpreter of some unique national treasures.
We are the guardian of a collection of beautiful art deco buildings constructed after the 1931 Hawke’s Bay earthquake and fire.
The Trust is a storyteller of courageous people who were able to imagine a different kind of city and adopt the energy and optimism of a modern art and design movement to create it.
The Trust is also the interpreter of the spirit of Art Deco to contemporary audiences in Hawkes Bay, New Zealand, and beyond.
The Art Deco Trust came out of a group formed in 1985 to protect the unique 1930s buildings that for 50 years had been unrecognised, undervalued, and were under threat of demolition.
Thanks to the advocacy of a new generation of courageous people with vision, these heritage buildings are now recognised, valued, and protected. Thanks to the Trust’s Robert McGregor Heritage Fund, supported by Napier City Council and Heritage Working Group, funds are now available to help preserve and restore Hawke’s Bay’s Art Deco heritage.
The story of how Napier rose out of the rubble and ashes of the 1931 earthquake is just the compelling opening chapter of a bigger and equally intriguing story of how Napier people, New Zealanders, and many worldwide fell in love with treasures that had been hiding in plain sight for 50 years. There are the stories of those who created the buildings, of the battles lost and won in the fight to preserve the historic precinct, and of those buildings brought back from the brink.
Emerging after the First World War, the Art Deco Movement celebrated the modern age, the machine, and synthetic materials. Its designs were simple. Its spirit was optimistic and energetic. People had the opportunity to imagine a new future. Napier embraced the chance to modernise and bring beauty from the ashes. The Trust is the interpreter of that spirit of the 1930s to New Zealand in the 2020s.
To protect, preserve, promote and celebrate Art Deco era heritage
To help protect Napier’s heritage, consider becoming a member of the Art Deco Trust or making a donation.
In February 1985 a group of passionate heritage advocates joined together in order to promote the newly published “Take a Walk Through Art Deco Napier” leaflet which had been funded by the Hawke’s Bay Museum, the Ministry of Works & Development and the Napier City Council
In June 1985 this group organised the premiere of Peter Wells’ television film “Newest City On The Globe”; on a fine winter Sunday afternoon, a crowd of 1100 people turned out to walk the streets of Napier and view its buildings, before viewing the film in a 340-seat theatre. The public’s enthusiasm encouraged those involved to continue working for the preservation, enhancement, and promotion of Napier’s unique architecture, constructed after the Earthquake of 1931.
Art Deco Trust was legally incorporated in 1987.
In 1992, with support from the Napier City Council, the Trust became a full-time operation with a salaried staff member and its own premises and shop at what was once the Napier’s Central Fire Station in Tennyson Street, Napier.
In 2008 Art Deco Trust became a registered charity: CC21328
Today the Trust occupies a hugely increased space at 7 Tennyson Street, Napier. the renamed Art Deco Centre. Governed by a Board of Trustees, the staff are supported by over 120 dedicated volunteers.
Walks & tours:
Each year over 20,000 people take an Art Deco Walk, some on guided walks led by the Trust’s volunteer walk guides and others on self guided walks through the Art Deco city using the Trust’s Self Guided Walks Brochure. For more information CLICK HERE.
Our vintage cars:
So many many incredible things have come from the Art Deco period, least of all, the cars. The Art Deco Trust has access to an incredible set of vintage cars cared for and managed by our volunteers. Click here to see more about the cars you can take on tours or hire for your wedding.
Board of Trustees
Barbara Arnott, Chair
Pamela Reading Windle
Jeremy Smith, Heritage Manager / GM