Napier's celebration of all things art deco

17:24, Feb 23 2014
ava bairstow
FLAPPING GOOD FUN: Ava Bairstow, 3, gets into the spirit of Napier’s Art Deco weekend in her grandparents’ 1937 Pontiac.

She lives in an art deco house, gets around in a 1937 Pontiac, greets cruise ship passengers in feather boas and furs, and thrives on Napier's annual celebration of the age of glamour.

Like thousands of others in the nation's home of art deco, Pam Thompson pulls out all the stops when the city's big weekend comes around.

She also ensures her three grandchildren, including 3-year-old Ava Bairstow, follow suit.

A resident of Napier from the age of 5, she was "bitten by the art deco bug" 15 years ago after she and husband John wandered into town during the art deco weekend, which is now into its 26th year.

"People were dressed up, music was playing, it was fantastic. So we ran home, got the hats and beads and came back into town, and we've been hooked ever since."

The couple have long lived in the suburb of Marewa, renowned for its collection of art deco houses, and have owned the Pontiac for a decade.


When the position of office manager at Napier's Art Deco Trust arose nine years ago, she leapt at the opportunity and has been "living the dream" since.

"We love the event to bits. It's hard to explain just how big it is to anyone who's not been. People get hooked. That's why it's grown every year."

The glamour of the era was what set it apart, she said, "and that's something that appeals to everyone, including men and including young people".

The 26th Art Deco Weekend is a four-day festival ending tomorrow that celebrates Napier's heritage and culture, a result of the rebuild after the 7.8 earthquake in 1931.

More than 200 events take place over the four days, with around 35,000 people attending.

This year's event coincides with the 50th anniversary of Hawke's Bay Airport. Napier Aero Club will have about 40 aircraft on display at the airport with fly-overs by World War II fighters, including a P51 Mustang and a Spitfire.

The Dominion Post