In his welcome to guests for the official opening powhiri for the Tremains Art Deco Festival yesterday Napier City Maori adviser Charles Ropitini spoke of the lifeforce of the god of peace.

For the several hundred people who turned out for the powhiri the weather gods may also have come to mind.

Days of sketchy rain leading up to yesterday's opening, and a forecast for possible thunder and showers, had led to a late site change — from the initial Sound Shell area to the MTG foyer.

Read more: P51 Mustang set to take to Napier's Art Deco skies
Powhiri sparks Deco festival into life


However, as the forecast brightened with the clear and warm dawn there was a late reversal back to the Sound Shell.

So under blue skies and warming sunshine the powhiri for the official Maori opening of the festival took place.

Principal sponsor for the festival Simon Tremain was all smiles as he arrived in his dapper boater, jacket and smart trousers.

"Hey, it's always sunny," he said as he took his place alongside guests who included representatives from the councils, Art Deco Trust, businesses, Ngati Kahungunu and a group from Samoa.

"Yes, it's all fine," was Art Deco Trust events director Glen Pickering said.

Along with many locals, a large number of tourists made their way to the Sound Shell, having arrived for the day aboard the liner Celebrity Solstice.

They were clearly delighted and the cameras were in widespread action.

Mr Ropitini described it as the day of the light force — the lifeforce of the god of peace and welcomed everyone warmly.

He spoke of how Maori had worked in with architects during the rebuild of the earthquake shattered central city.

"Side by side, we rebuilt this city."

Mr Ropitini said the challenge next year was that there would be more talk about the Maori designs upon many buildings, and how it could be celebrated together.

Napier Mayor Bill Dalton welcomed so many "special friends", including Maori who were such a big part of the event.

"This is just such a fantastic celebration," he said, and spoke of how people like the late Robert McGregor helped spark the whole Art Deco flame.

For the overseas visitors it was clearly a delight to see and hear.

"Oh this is something," an American man who gave his name as Ben said.

"This really is something so very special you have here."

His partner smiled and simply said "we feel we should have dressed for this".

One visitor however, who appeared to be part of a passenger group from the visiting liner, got a slightly closer look at the traditional opening Maori challenge than he anticipated.

As the warrior advanced on the group before they were welcomed onto the colonnade, the man stepped in his path to get a close-up photo.

It was closer to the warrior's firmly gripped and swinging traditional taiaha that he anticipated and backed away quickly, to the amusement of the others.

Mr Pickering said it a great start to what would be a colourful and memorable festival.

"Getting everyone together like this is just so good — it's such a great start."

The days of persistent rain leading up to the start of the festival had had little effect on ground conditions so events like Thursday's Junior Gatsby Picnic at the Sound Shell domain were not affected.

The picnic will see hundreds of youngsters from schools across Hawke's Bay enjoy fun, games, music and learn more about the heritage of the city.

The words of one Art Deco attired onlooker summed it all up.
"Here we go."