Preserving Hawke's Bay's heritage, and honouring the man behind the Art Deco Trust was celebrated at the launch of the Robert McGregor Heritage Fund last night.

The fund will enable the Art Deco Trust and Napier City Council to provide financial assistance to heritage building owners, to support the preservation and restoration of this "critical element" of the Napier story.

The fund is named after the late Robert McGregor, who was the Art Deco Trust founding member, its first president, and first executive director.

His son Angus McGregor said the fund was a fitting way to continue his father's legacy, by making sure a key asset of the city was preserved, and protected.

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He had travelled from London for the occasion, while members of his family had come up from Wellington.

"I'm very humbled that this is done in his name. I'm absolutely delighted to be here celebrating the work of the trust [and] Dad's legacy."

Art Deco Trust general manager Shane Gorst said heritage building ownership was becoming increasingly more difficult and expensive, so the fund was designed to help building owners financially, and support "crucial" restoration work.

The fund was starting small but they hoped it would "significantly grow" through further trust and Napier City Council contributions, and public and corporate donations.

"Investing in the bricks and mortar that make up our unique streetscape ensures
the preservation of this critical part of the Hawke's Bay story for the benefit of current and future generations, and protects the significant economic impact that Art Deco has on Napier," he said.

"Without this ongoing investment, the physical elements of our heritage and the stories that they represent will be eroded over time and eventually lost completely."

Napier mayor Bill Dalton said Art Deco was an "incredibly important" part of the city's heritage.

"It wasn't that many years ago that we used to sit back and watch Art Deco buildings knocked down.

"We want to see these buildings not only retained, but maintained and so the launch of this fund in the name of the guy that's really the father of the Art Deco society...will enable the Art Deco Trust to [do this]."

The fund will be administered by a working group of heritage professionals and enthusiasts who would make recommendations to a committee of council and trust representatives.

Napier City Council strategic planner Fleur Lincoln said she was excited about the establishment of the Heritage Fund, which allowed for more important restoration work to be done to protect the Art Deco Quarter.

"The launch of the Robert McGregor Heritage Fund signals council's ongoing commitment to care for one of our best and most important city assets - our history".

Mr Gorst said as a charity, the Art Deco Trust relied on the generosity, and support of the public to ensure they could continue restoring, preserving, and promoting Hawke's Bay's Art Deco heritage.

Applications to the fund open on November 20, with the first round of funding expected to be announced in late January 2018.

For more information, fund application criteria, to apply, or to make a donation to the Heritage Fund, either in Robert McGregor's name or to support the work of the trust, go to artdeconapier.com.