Napier Line Drawings

The Ormond Chapel is the third oldest building in Napier. In 1919 Miss Fanny Ormond bought the building, formerly known as the Napier Grammar School erected in 1869.

The building (which stood where the Central School playground now is) was moved to the present site and presented to St John’s parish.

Dedicated to the memory of Fanny’s nephew Alexander Ormond, who was killed in France in 1916, it provided a place of worship for nurses from the nearby hospital as well as local residents.

It was dedicated in 1919 by Bishop Sedgwick.

In the aftermath of the 1931 earthquake the chapel sheltered patients from the collapsed hospital.

It is an interesting example of colonial architecture and an important part of Napier’s history.


These shipping beacons are often a mystery for passing visitors. They were built in 1907 and restored after damage in 1931. The front one has always been on mainland while the rear one was on an island. They are still fully operational.

The Rev William Colenso (1811-99) was born in Penzance, Cornwall, and arrived in Paihia, NZ, on December 30, 1834. A qualified printer and bookbinder, he provided the first book printed in NZ on February 17,1835 and did most of the printing in connection with the Treaty of Waitangi.

A lay missionary and later an ordained deacon, he arrived in Hawke’s Bay in 1844. After years of exploration and classification, and work on all things Maori, he was elected to the Provincial council for Napier Town 1859-67, and 1871-75. He was acting speaker in 1871 and MP for Napier in 1861 and for many years inspector of schools for HB.

Deeply involved in all aspects of cultural and civic affairs, William Colenso was not only one of our earliest white settlers but one of the most influential and important. His name is perhaps the best known to present day citizens.

This is his grave and lasting memorial.

Dating from the days of the stage coach this converted ‘staging post’ is situated near the Otatara Homestead in Taradale. It is surrounded by many examples of early farming technology.


This little cottage in Johns Road (off Meeanee Road – Taradale end) has an interesting history to say the least. In the latter 19th century this was Mission land, grapes were grown and dairy farming flourished. The farm labourers were single Irishmen brought out specifically to tend the dairy herds. They were eventually followed by contingent of Irish women and, those who married, settled in tiny farm cottages like this.

This particular one is reputed to have housed mum, dad and 16 children. The children apparently slept on specially constructed wall shelving – making the most of limited space. The rich vein of Napier history!

The block wall at Napier Prison dates as far back as the 1870s, when the troops were garrisoned there. Many of the blocks carry initials and patterns carved by early soldiers and prisoners. The doors are also adorned with unusual carved symbols. The prison was commissioned officially in 1906. The only damaged inflicted by the 1931 earthquake is a superficial crack at the front.


These gun emplacements “guarding” the Awatoto foreshore were built in 1914-1942 as a precaution against Japanese invasion. They are now battered, weatherworn and a repository for rubbish and graffiti, but still a reminder of those historic, tumultuous times.

Wilson Hall 1866 – Knox Presbyterian Church. The first church in Ahuriri opened as Bethel Chapel, December 16, 1866, with the funds raised largely in Scotland by Mrs Mary Wilson of Clyde Road. Renamed the Port Church in 1867. Also the first Ahuriri school 1867-78 renamed Wilson Hall following the opening of Knox Church, June 1896.”

This is a quote from the plaque on the Hardinge Road side of this building. However, the original construction is the part with the bell tower on the western (Iron Pot) side – the rest was added on at a later date (bell tower on left of sketch). A piece of our very earliest history.


This rusting pre-1931 ship’s boiler on the Ahuriri foreshore is anathema to some, character to others, but beyond doubt, haven for seabirds.

No 9 Byron St, Napier.

A two-storey building currently owned by the Hawke’s Bay Club.

A impressive stone construction, it is thought to have been built about the turn of the century when it may have housed club staff. Occupants since, however, have mainly been commercial (including a long tenure by a tailor). The building survived the 1931 earthquake but a revolutionary strengthening technique employed by the Natusch architecture firm was needed to preserve this fine example of early Napier.


This sketch shows the remains of jetties at the end of the Whakarire Avenue on the western spit.

This area was once home to the Hawke’s Bay and North British Freezing Co. Ltd., and lighters once loaded meat from this pierhead for transfer to ships waiting offshore.

These crumbling remnants are virtually the only tangible evidence of what was once a bustling pre-turn of the century port industry.

In 1846 a young Scotsman called Alexander Alexander arrived in Ahuriri. He opened a trading station at Onepoto close by the Tutaekuri River, and to which point schooners could moor.

He quickly established further operations – 1847 at Ngamoerangi near Tangoio, 1848 at Waikari and 1850 at Waipureku (now Clive). He later farmed at Wharerangi.

Alexander married Harata, daughter of Whiuwhiu Hoia, a Ngati-Upokoiri chief, which gave him considerable influence among local Maoris.

His grave with its wooden canopy in the style of a Maori meeting house can be seen today on a hill on the Puketapu Road near the junction with Poraite.

The inscription reads: Alexr Alexander. Born May 20, 1820, arrived in NZ May 20, 1840. Died July 25, 1873. “He was a man Horatio.”

An apt Shakespearean quotation for a colourful and resourceful Napier pioneer.


These two elderly rail carriages are used a clubrooms by HB Railway enthusiasts, and are in the process of restoration. They will eventually be splendid examples of their era.

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