Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Napier, New Zealand
|Extent||the city, Eskdale,
|Extent||Bay View to Taradale
|See also||Hastings District|
Napier is an important port city in Hawke's Bay, New Zealand. It has a population (2001) of 53,661. Ten kilometres further south lies the slightly smaller town of Hastings. The two are often regarded as twin cities.
The city is 332 kilometres by road (about four hours) from the capital, Wellington. It is the only city in the Hawke's Bay region, which is the largest crossbred wool centre in the Southern Hemisphere and one of the largest apple, pear and stone fruit producing areas in New Zealand. It has also become an important grape growing and wine production area. There are large frozen meat, wool, pulp and timber tonnages passing through Napierís port.
Napier is a popular retirement city and tourist resort, and has one of the most photographed tourist attractions in the country, a statue on Marine Parade called Pania Of The Reef. Her statue is regarded in Napier in much the same way that the Little Mermaid statue is regarded in Copenhagen, and bears some similarities to its Scandinavian equivalent.
Geography and climate
The city is located on a headland (Bluff Hill) and surrounding plain at the southeastern edge of Hawke Bay, a large semi-circular bay which dominates the east coast of New Zealand's North Island. The coastline of the city was substantially altered by a large earthquake in 1931. Apart from Hastings, several other, smaller towns lie close to the city, some of which (such as Taradale) are now little more than large suburbs. Other surrounding towns include Bay View, to the north, Clive, to the south, and Flaxmere, west of Hastings.
The city enjoys some of the highest sunshine hours in New Zealand, its warm, relatively dry climate the reult of its location on the east coast. Most of New Zealand's weather patterns cross the country from the west, and the city lies in the rain shadow of the Volcanic Plateau and surrounding ranges such as the Kaweka Range. The city is, however, prone to the remnants of tropical cyclones from the central Pacific Ocean, which occasionally are still at storm strength by the time they have travelled this far south.
Napier has a well documented Maori history. When the Ngati Kahungunu party of Taraia reached the district many centuries ago, the Whatumamoa, Rangitane and the Ngati Awa and elements of the Ngati Tara iwi existed in the nearby areas of Petane, Te Whanganui-a-Orotu and Waiohiki. Later, the Ngati Kahungunu became the dominant force from Poverty Bay to Wellington. They were one of the first Maori tribes to come in contact with European settlers. Te Whanganui-a-Orotu is still regarded as a Taonga Tuku Iho (a treasure for all time).
Chief Te Ahuriri cut a channel into the lagoon space at Ahuriri because the Westshore entrance had became blocked, threatening cultivations surrounding the Whanga and the fishing villages on the islands in the lagoon. The rivers were continually feeding freshwater into the area.
The first European to see the future site of Napier was Captain James Cook who sailed down the east coast in October 1769. He commented: "On each side of this bluff head is a low, narrow sand or stone beach, between these beaches and the mainland is a pretty large lake of salt water I suppose." He said the harbour entrance was at the Westshore end of the shingle beach. The site was subsequently visited and later settled by European traders, whalers and missionaries. By the 1850s farmers and hotel-keepers arrived.
The Crown purchased the Ahuriri block (including the site of Napier) in 1851. In 1854 Alfred Domett was appointed Commissioner of Crown Lands and resident magistrate at Ahuriri. A plan was prepared and the town named after Sir Charles Napier, hero of the Battle of Meeanee in the Indian province of Scinde. Domett named many streets in the settlement to commemorate the great colonial era of the British Indian Empire. He also displayed his own literary preferences by naming streets after famous artists and literary figures.
The town was constituted a borough in 1874 and development of the surrounding marsh lands and reclamation proceeded slowly. Between 1852 and 1876 Napier was the administrative centre for the Hawke's Bay Provincial Government but in 1876 the Abolition of Provinces Act dissolved provincial government, replacing it with a central assembly in Wellington.
Development was generally confined to the hill and to the port area of Ahuriri. In the early days Napier consisted of an oblong mass of hills (Scinde Island ) almost entirely surrounded by water, from which ran out two single spits, one to the north and one to the south. There was a swamp between the now Hastings Street and Wellesley Road and the water extended to Clive Square. Some 40 km2 of today's Napier was undersea before the earthquake lifted it up.
In 1931 Napier was levelled by an earthquake and ensuing fires which killed 258 people. The city was rebuilt in the popular Art Deco style of the time, and remains a fine example of this type of architecture; it is reputed to be the largest collection of Art Deco buildings outside Miami.
In January 1945, the German submarine U862 entered the Port of Napier undetected. That event later became the basis of a widely circulated post-war myth that Kapitanleutnant Heinrich Timm took his crew ashore near Napier to milk cows to supplement their rations.
Tourist attractions in Napier include The Soundshell, Marineland, and the National Aquarium.
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