Art Deco fest gets French connection

By Roger Moroney

Next year's big Geon Art Deco Weekend will have a more visible French flavour upon the streets.

The term "Art Deco" had its origins in the 1925 French art exhibition at Le Musee des Arts Decoratifs, so it was more than fitting that representatives of that country should be on hand for the big weekend, the Royal New Zealand Navy's liaison man in Hawke's Bay, Lieutenant Commander Neville Smith said.

The French connection will be in the form of about 30 officers and crew from the French navy patrol boat La Moqueuse, which is scheduled to arrive at the Port of Napier on February 14 for a four-day goodwill visit.

Lieutenant Commander Smith said the 480-tonne patrol boat, which is based at Noumea in New Caledonia, will arrive in port along with what is effectively the New Zealand patrol equivalent, HMNZS Rotoiti.

"Having a French patrol boat here will add a new dimension and be the perfect fit to the Art Deco weekend," he said.

The FS La Moqueuse is one of four 55-metre patrol boats of the French navy's L'Audacieuse class which work out of its Pacific ports.

It will be the first time an overseas naval vessel will be in port for the full Art Deco weekend of events.

The Australian hydrographic survey ship HMAS Melville arrived for the start of the weekend in 2005 but sailed before it ended.

As it was on that occasion, the crew of the French patrol boat will march in the big parade through Napier, along with their Kiwi counterparts from Rotoiti.

"We are in the process of planning some things for the crew to be involved with while they are here," Lieutenant Commander Smith said.

The La Moqueuse was last in New Zealand waters in February when it made a three-day goodwill visit to Auckland.

Due to the logistics of the big weekend neither patrol boat will be open to the public.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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