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The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Taranaki, Hawke's Bay & Wellington Provincial Districts]

Town Of Napier

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Town Of Napier.

Napier, the chief town and port of the province of Hawke's Bay, lies deep down in the Light extending from Mahia to Cape Kidnappers. It stands upon a peninsula, which terminates in a group of hill—at one time surrounded by water, and still called Scinde Island. The business portion of Napier is built upon the flat land fronting the Bay, and upon the hills are a large number of handsome private residences, surrounded by tastefully laid-out grounds and pretty gardens.

A little over half a century ago the embryo capital of Hawke's Bay came into being. After the province of Wellington had become firmly established, settlement extended to the north, and the town of Napier was laid out. The first auction sale of land took place on April 5th, 1855, when £5 per quarter-acre was paid for the few sections that were then disposed of. At that time there was some speculation as to where the centre of the town would eventually be. The vicinity of the site of Clive Square was at first favoured, but business houses grew more rapidly in Hastings Street, and in the adjoining portion of Emerson Street. The shipping trade at that time was confined to Port Ahuriri, and in 1858 Messrs Richardson and Charlton were conducting a wholesale warehouse at the Western Spit, and a hotel was in existence there. Port Ahuriri—or the Spit, as it is more commonly called—is still an important business place, and warehouses and offices of the leading merchants and business people are located there. Though distant about a mile and a half from Napier, it is included within the borough boundary, and it contains a number of the principal manufacturing works and industries of the province. The small steamers engaged in coastal trade, the fleet of lightering boats, and the trawling fleet, work from Port Ahuriri. Most of the colonial and intercolonial shipping trade, however, is carried on at the Breakwater Harbour, but the large Home-going steamers, that lie in the roadstead, discharge and load their cargoes by means of the Port Ahuriri lighters.

The leading business institutions in the colony are represented in Napier, and educational, religious, and social organisations are established
Napier. N.Z. Gov. Tourist Dept., photo.

Napier. N.Z. Gov. Tourist Dept., photo.

page 305 and maintained. There are some handsome buildings in Napier, notably, the Cathedral, St. Patrick's Church, the Government offices, Hawke's Bay Club, Masonic Hotel, the newspaper offices, and a number of the business houses. The town has an exceedingly attractive and clean appearance, and the streets are asphalted and watered regularly from the mains. There is an abundant water supply from artesian wells, and the large reservoirs on the hills furnish a high pressure. Napier is well lit with gas, supplied by a private company at a cost of 5s per 1000 feet, the lowest rate prevailing in New Zealand. An extensive swamp, which formerly existed at the southern portion of the town has, by natural and artificial means, been reclaimed, and this will shortly be built upon. The Tutaekuri River flows through it, and upon its banks an area of thirty acres has been allocated for a public park. Clive Square is a pretty little breathing space, with a band rotunda, and grass lawns bordered by flower beds and shrubs. The Rotanical Gardens on the hillside, which contain an aviary and a large variety of semi-tropical plants and shrubs, are charmingly laidout, and well lo ked after. From the top of the gardens, on one side, a grand view is obtainable of the fertile Heretaunga Plains, dotted over with orchards and vineyards; while on the other side is Port Ahuriri, the Western Spit, and the magnificent stretch of water in the inner harbour. But Napier's crowning beauty is the Marine Parade, and the Bay, which resembles somewhat that of Naples. The Parade fronts the town, and is two miles in length. It is lail down in asphalt, and protected from the sea by a wall of concrete, while along its entire length a row of stately Norfolk Island pines add a picturesque effect. Beneath and between the pine trees, seats have been placed for the convenience of the public by the Borough Council and private citizens, and from this vantage ground a beautiful panorama is open to view. Cape Kidnappers bounds the scene on the right, and in the distant background towards the left the shadowy outline of the Mahia Peninsula may be discerned; while between lies the broad expanse of bay, dotted over with trawling steamers engaged in their daily vocation; in the immediate fore
Hastings Street: Looking North.

Hastings Street: Looking North.

page 306 ground is the long stretch of beach with scores of merry children disporting themselves, and a number of adults bathing in the surf.

On the Marine Parade, at the corner of Emerson Street, a monument has been erected to commemorate the part taken by the Hawke's Bay Contingents in the South African war; at the corner of Byron Street stands a handsome monument in memory of the men who lost their lives in the flood of 1897, while attempting to rescue the washed-out settlers at Clive; and in front of the Borough Council Chambers there is an attractive band rotunda, surrounded by shrubs the flowers.

The climate of Napier may be described in one word, “superlative.” The summer days are tempered by balmy salubrious breezes from the sea, and the ranges to the west and south protect the town from the bleakness of the winter gales. Napier is fast becoming recognised as an ideal health resort, and it has long been noted as a favourite place for a holiday. The climate and congenial surroundings appeal to those in delicate health, the wealth of natural colouring and idyllic scenes to the artist and the lover of the beautiful; and among the attractions to sportsmen and tourists are excellent fishing, good shooting, rowing, sailing, surf-bathing, golfing, tennis, and bowling; while the splendid level roads of the town and district are eminently adapted for cycling and motoring.