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Napier History, New Zealand

A seaport city found in New Zealand, Napier has a total population of about 57,900. The city is the fifth largest city area in the country. Before the present Napier, the city begun as a small town inhabited by the Maori natives until the Europeans came to the land. Napier History is filled with a series of events every traveler must know about.

Napier History – Maori Settlement

The Maori history in the city of Napier is well-established. Hundreds of years ago, the Ngati Kahungunu group of Taraia arrived at the Napier district. At around the same time the Rangitane, Ngati Awa and Whatumamoa of the Ngati Tara were already living in the areas near Napier. It was the Ngati Kahungunu tribe which became the leading power for Poverty Bay and Wellington. They were also the first to interact with the colonizers from Europe.

Napier History – European Settlement

In October 1769, Captain James Cook and his crew sailed down to the New Zealand from the east coast and were the first Europeans to have taken a look at the city of Napier. According to Captain Cook the place is a beautiful combination of beaches and narrow sand. Based on his accounts, the entrance to the port was located at the West part of the stone beach. After Cook, many European merchants arrived in Napier followed by missionaries and whalers. At the middle of the 19th centuries, farmers as well as hotel caretakers also arrived at the city.

In 1851, the Crown bought the Ahuriri block which contains the Napier area. Three years later, future Prime Minister Alfred Domett, was assigned Commissioner of Crown Lands at the same time resident magistrate of the region. As a result of this, plans were created for the town naming it after Sir Charles Napier. The names of the streets in Napier were all to commemorate the noble colonial period of the British Indian Empire.

In 1874, Napier was established as a district and slow expansions of the area followed right after. From 1852 to 1876, the district became the administrative center of the Hawke’s Bay.

Napier History – An Earthquake Strikes

Napier was struck by an earthquake on February 03, 1931 killing around 256 inhabitants. The number of deaths later rose to 258. Aside from the human casualties, most of the infrastructures were also destroyed. It was then reconstructed with most of the structures based on Art Deco designs.

Napier History – Contemporary History

When the era of the 60's to 80's came, some of the Art Deco buildings in Napier were substituted with more modern structures. The remaining old buildings were preserved and protected by the local government and was later listed among nominations in the UNESCO World Heritage Site.

New Zealand’s historical undertakings will not be complete without the facts found in Napier History. For other explorations that took place in the country and the European continent, facts are available through Wellington History and Palmerston North History.

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