Every old house, villa and cottage in Hawke's Bay has a potentially colourful story behind it - but trying to unearth its history was often hampered by something that happened 86 years ago.

"In 1931 when the earthquake struck most of our records were destroyed so there is a big gap in that area of knowledge," Historic Places Hawke's Bay chair Barbara Arnott said.

"I terms of people wanting to research the history of their old homes that is a real issue."

Mrs Arnott said she was aware that local councils and libraries often fielded inquiries from people wanting to learn more about some residential properties throughout the region, especially old villas and cottages which had histories stretching back well before the earthquake and even into the 19th century.


"Records were lost but yes, there are still some records out there - it is knowing how to find them."

So Historic Places have worked in with Heritage New Zealand (HNZ) to put on a "Research Your House" workshop in Napier today.

"Heritage New Zealand put on a similar thing in Nelson and it was very successful and people got a lot out of it."

Those attending get advice from leading historians, archivists and researchers on how to go about digging up often difficult to source information about their historic properties.

"We have so many well qualified and passionate people in Hawke's Bay who really know their stuff and it is a treat to be able to share their expertise and grow knowledge in the community about one of the things people hold dear - their house," Mrs Arnott said.

Hawke's Bay historian Michael Fowler and architect Alison Dangerfield from Heritage New Zealand will be among the experts, as will HNZ honorary life member Dorothy Pilkington.

They will answer inquiries and questions and pass on their researching knowledge.

Mrs Pilkington has recently completed research into two very different old homes and will effectively pass on to people "this is how I did it - and you can do the same thing."

Mrs Arnott said the workshop was being staged at East Pier in Ahuriri between 10am and 12.30pm and bookings were preferred.

To register attendance people can contact hb@historicplacesaotearoa.org.nz