We have found summer again. This time in the North Island. The region is called Hawke’s Bay that over looks Hawke Bay. We never heard why the difference, but there it is. In any case, this again is a Mediterranean-like region that is considered the fruit bowl of New Zealand. It’s also a world renown region for wine. It’s beautiful, sunny and warm!
The only reservations in the area were for Hastings, so our day started here. The entire region suffered through an earthquake in 1931. Hastings chose to rebuild in the Spanish Mission style and fortunately the area did maintain the buildings from that time. Hastings also is the gateway to one of two gannet colonies that nest on mainland out on Cape Kidnappers. Again, like the albatross, these guys must have been tricked by a peninsula thinking it was an island. Here there are 1500 gannets in the plateau colony, another 2200 in a colony lower down the face of the cliffs and then still another 2000 on a set of black rocks out in the ocean. The plateau colony was accessible and we are allowed to get within 3 feet of them. They readily knew the boundary and everyone was comfortable with it. With that, it allowed for us to have an unforgettable experience. It is quite awesome to see that many of anything all together. This is the plateau colony quite active and awake. The gannet builds a “nest” mound much like the shags do in the dirt and sand. Within these, they will lay an egg and take turns sitting on it. The “free” parent will go to sea for fish and return to feed the chick. When they arrive, they are greeted by the mate and the two preen each other as signs of affection. The same motions made solo are meant to show aggression and protect territotry. There were chicks among the crowd, but they were few because a cold snap in September sent the colony packing elsewhere. The colony did come back, but have started late in laying eggs.James even caught a one regurgitating the fish to feed the chick. From there we headed north to Napier where the earthquake held a magnitude of 7.8 on the Richter scale on the 3rd of February 1931. The quake lasted over 2 minutes. (For those not in earthquake regions normally earthquakes last for under 10 seconds.) Most of the buildings were brick and immediately collapsed. From there fires broke out and destroyed much of the rest of the city. There are stories of people being trapped and heroic doctors going into the rubble to administer morphine to those dying and to those who would be caught in the fire that was coming. 157 people died in just Napier. Here a photo just days after the earthquake.This is middle of the Great Depression. The building industry was shut down worldwide and Napier chose to rebuild. Most other industries were also shutdown and men flooded to Napier to find work. Overtime was easily given and Napier amazingly was rebuilt in 2 years. All of the buildings were designed the latest trend of Art Deco. There is virtually no where else in the world where one can find an entire town rebuilt in that era – because of the Depression.
The buildings were also built to withstand an earthquake. This is the first region of New Zealand that started a building code. These people were not going to live through this again. The buildings were reinforced and sturdy. Extra tiles and plaster castings were made just in case something did happen to mar the face of the buildings. In the 1980s, some began to become bored with the old style and long for the sleek glass skyscrapers. Two of the 1930s buildings were torn down, but the effort and time it took discourage anyone else from trying. So today, Napier is virtually in tact and is protected through a trust. If you ever make it here, come in February for the Art Deco Festival. Here are some of our favorites…
For more pictures, check out:http://picasaweb.google.com/jjpeavey2/20100107JRP?feat=directlink