Nearly $200,000 has been pledged to bring several of Napier's Art Deco heritage buildings back up to standard.
This week Arts, Culture and Heritage Minister Maggie Barry announced three Napier art deco and character buildings would share in $180,000 for earthquake strengthening work.

She made this, and other announcements while in the city yesterday.

The three buildings - Mid City Plaza, Munster Chambers, and the Gallate's Building - would be part of round two of the Heritage EQUIP scheme, which was set up in 2016 to support private owners of heritage buildings get necessary earthquake strengthening work done.

"Heritage buildings are an important part of the character of New Zealand, but the cost of strengthening can, in some cases, be prohibitive and unsustainable for owners. Heritage EQUIP provides support to preserve our built heritage," Ms Barry said.


Of the grant, Napier Mayor Bill Dalton said "frankly anybody that's prepared to put money into earthquake strengthening our buildings, I welcome."

Napier's unique Art Deco appearance is due to many of its buildings having to be rebuilt after the 1931 earthquake.

"As hard as that must have been at the time, we now have a wonderful collection of Art Deco buildings which have made Napier's CBD famous," Ms Barry said. "The strengthening work will ensure the buildings are safe for the public and make sure the buildings remain part of our heritage for years and generations to come."

"The Art Deco architecture on display in Napier is a considerable tourist drawcard so there are substantial economic benefits to undertaking this work."

The bulk of the funding would go to the Mid City Plaza, at the Dickens St end.

The $150,000 grant would contribute towards the cost of removing, replacing and bracing the unreinforced first floor, and constructing ground floor foundations and shear walls.

The plaza was built between 1920 and 1925 and survived the Napier earthquake with little damage. It is registered under the Historic Places Act.

Tennyson St's Munster Chambers would receive a grant of $17,500. The 1933 building was designed by local architects J A Louis Hay and Natusch and Sons.

It had unreinforced masonry walls which pose a risk to occupants, but they are the only element which are giving the building its earthquake risk status.

The final $14,753 portion of the grant would go toward strengthening Gallate's Building on Emerson St. Currently a menswear shop and residential apartments, the exterior has already been upgraded to ensure it contributes to Napier's Art Deco streetscape.

The group one heritage building needs strengthening to improve the connection between the roof framing and the side walls on the first floor.

The grants were welcomed by valuers Turley & Co, whose property strategy and valuation director Pat Turley said "it is great to see lots of Hawke's Bay urban renewal but heritage architecture has been missing out or giving way to a wrecking ball."

He said "heritage architecture is important giving a city history and heart", but older buildings struggled to compete without special treatment.

Heritage New Zealand schedules over 60 listed buildings in Napier, most in the CBD and including Napier Hill, TCL said. Hastings had 27 listed buildings and mostly CBD commercial.

Yesterday the minister also visited Napier's Department of Conservation (DoC) office, and to the Napier Menzshed to see the progress on their new shed in Marewa.

She spent an hour being shown around the shed by Chairman Paddy Dobson, and chatting with members about their progress.