A month or so back I spent a delightful weekend in my home town of Napier, New Zealand, surrounded by around 15,000 tourists and 400 vintage cars from the 1930s. I have to confess: I went a bit shutter-happy. Today I thought I’d share another picture or four from my collection. These are not staged. They’re pictures I took while just wandering around. It really was like this.
It was a magical experience – a fantasy rendition of what we all hoped Hollywood was like seventy five years ago. And with all the cars rumbling back and forth, the hundreds of people dressed up in 1930s costumes for the occasion, the period bands with their ‘tea-for-two’ jazz rhythms, a live improv street theatre re-enacting a movie shoot, it really was like stepping back in time.
I know, of course, that it wasn’t real history. I have a long standing interest in the history of the place – my work on that district includes the longest book I’ve ever written, all 250,000 words and 750+ pages of Town and Country, a history of Hastings and its surrounding district.
My most recent book on the area is Historic Hawke’s Bay and East Coast, which is a coffee-table picture history of the district. Lots of pictures, not too much text – the aim was to capture the magic of the past through some of the best available historical photos. The cover pic, curiously, was of the one-time skating rink seen above – it’s behind the car - but as it was originally in 1938, looking down from the stage of the Sound Shell. The real thing. Publishers David Bateman did a really great job of the production. It’s available online via Fishpond, New Zealand’s online bookshop. You can get it here, if you want.
Copyright © Matthew Wright 2012