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At 10.47am on Tuesday 3 February 1931, Napier suffered a disastrous earthquake. The quake shook Napier for two and a half minutes, and impacted most of the Hawke's Bay district.
The earthquake rocked the town, demolishing many buildings which were later decimated by a devastating fire. 258 lives were lost across the Hawke's Bay area, including 162 in Napier. The earthquake raised some areas of land by as much as 8 feet, meaning some 4,000 hectares of sea-bed became dry land. Today these land sites include not only the airport, but also residential and industrial property developments. Resilience and fortitude rebuilt Napier as did it's indomitable citizens.
The extensive rebuilding that took place in the 1930's is the reason for the Art Deco flavour in the City, with Art Deco architecture chosen for its simplicity, beauty, and most importantly, for its strength.