Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern seems set to become part of the still growing phenomenon of the Art Deco Festival after her first Prime Ministerial visit to Napier.

Having been driven through Saturday's Art Deco parade, which attracted at least 25,000 people, the Prime Minister today attended the Art Deco Dog Parade, again in front of a large crowd and where partner Clarke Gayford was one of the judges.

After helping him present the prizes, she told Hawke's Bay Today that while Hawke's Bay is a place she loves to come to, to relax, it was the first time she'd been to the festival.

She replied with a firm "Yes, I would!" when asked if she'll be back again, as Prime Minister.

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Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern with Napier brother-and-sister William and Mia Hardy. PHOTO/PAUL TAYLOR.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern with Napier brother-and-sister William and Mia Hardy. PHOTO/PAUL TAYLOR.

She was unsure whether that might next year, but said amid the hundreds dressed in 1930s attire, vintage cars nearby, and classic Art Deco architecture across the road that she was "a particular lover of this period. I am the Minister for Culture and Heritage, and Napier is such an incredible example of the benefit of protecting our heritage".

"We are doing a bit of work in the heritage space at the moment to try and support greater preservation," she said. "This is such a good example."

"I was reading this morning the history, and to see where it's come from, where there was just a handful of cars and a handful of people going to the picnic," she said.

"To see what it is now — an internationally-recognised festival."

Both she and Gayford had met people from overseas who had come to Napier just for the Art Deco Festival.

A senior officer from cruise liner Radiance of the Seas, which berthed in Napier on Saturday with over 3000 passengers and crew, had told her he hoped future berthing would be "deliberately" timed for Art Deco Weekend.

The Prime Minister provided some insight as to why she had not been nearer the front of the parade the previous day — riding about 10 vehicles back in a 1918 Packard V12.

She revealed that while keen to see the festival, she had wanted to do it from among the crowd.

Asked about the enormity of the parade, she said she had a bit of a feeling that it was "something else" to be seen.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern with Stuart Nash, MP for Napier Photo/Paul Taylor
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern with Stuart Nash, MP for Napier Photo/Paul Taylor

"I said to (Napier Labour MP) Stuart (Nash) some time ago that I really wanted to do that," she said. "I wanted to just watch the parade.

"Stuart wanted me to go in a car," she said.

"He was insistent I wouldn't see anything because it was so big. I can understand why — It is a really wonderful event."