Historic Hawke's Bay: Art Deco houses



Due to a lack of space for expansion from surrounding swamps, Napier - in its early days, looked at ways to reclaim land for settlement. One of those areas where land was reclaimed was Napier South, and in 1908 Napier South formed its own town board, which later merged with the Napier Borough Council in 1915.

Marewa was formed as a suburb of Napier on 475 acres (192 hectares) of reclaimed Napier South land that the Hawke's Bay Harbour Board had leased in 1934 to the Napier Borough Council. In December 1934, 50 sections were offered for lease, and quickly taken up. (The council had to pay for the infrastructure of roads, bridges etc., and would recoup their money through rates.) Building of houses began in 1935. More land was acquired in 1936 in the area by the Labour Government for their state housing programme.

Some of the houses in Marewa were built in what is now known as the Art Deco style (like the ones pictured).

Despite many predicting the downfall of Napier after the 1931 Hawke's Bay Earthquake, demand for housing was strong during the 1930s.

Hastings also built many Art Deco houses, and unlike Napier, built flats in that style - the best example being Carlsson House (1933) in Queen Street East, which was converted into office premises in the 1990s.

Michael Fowler will be speaking on Sunday February 17, at the Napier Cathedral's 5pm service a Swing and a Prayer, with the theme for this year's earthquake service being Photos and Words - the photographers and the reporters - how the media covered the earthquake.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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