Hawkes Bay Museum Chronicles ’31 Quake and More


For just $10NZ you can spend a couple of hours happily exploring the exhibits of Maori artifacts, and rotating exhibits of cultural history. My favorite gallery tells the story of the Napier earthquake in 1931 and shows a film on a continuous loop: Survivors’ Stories. It is 35 fascinating minutes.


“In 1931, New Zealand’s deadliest earthquake devastated the cities of Napier and Hastings. At least 256 people died in the magnitude 7.8 earthquake – 161 in Napier, 93 in Hastings, and 2 in Wairoa. Many thousands more required medical treatment.” (Te Ara Encyclopedia of New Zealand)

There are many testimonies in the documentary that moved me, but my throat closed a little when someone remembered almost casually how most of the nurses were killed in the initial quake and so everyone had to help as they could do cope with the injured. Oh my.

img_1164If you look at Napier today you can envision how Christchurch can recover; however, not without suffering, not without suffering and hard work.

Postscript:  I watched the video on Sunday with my mom. Her mom was 6 years old and living in Santa Rosa, CA when the San Francisco earthquake struck. She remembers the ground rolling up to meet her as she ran out the door. We thought about the latest NZ quake. We live on the “Ring of Fire” too, so we cannot become complacent. Check your emergency supplies and make sure you are ready with water, flashlights, candles, matches, and other supplies. Click through to this article in SFGate for tips on creating your own earthquake preparedness kit.




Swatch: Cycling to Skeinz


You can order yarn and penguins in sweaters on-line.

I have been intrigued with the wool shop Skeinz in Napier since 2011. When I was living in St Heliers and the Rena shipwreck happened the shop put a call out for penguin sweaters to help with the recovery. They were completely swamped by the response and the veterinarians only needed a few (their use is actually no longer in vogue). So Skeinz was clever and bought some stuffed little blue penguins and yellow-eyed penguins and sold the sweaters to raise money for penguin recovery and conservation.

The shop is in an industrial part of town because it is co-located with their wool mill and is essentially a factory outlet. Too far to walk and impractical to take a taxi so I rented a 3 speed cruiser and headed to the beach bike path. It was counter-intuitive to go via the Port, but the bike rental guy suggested that there would be less traffic and more scenic.

20161102_150910All good until I got to the transition from the Quays to the light industrial part of Napier called Onekawa. Suddenly I was navigating through roundabouts with logging trucks! I found a new gear fueled by terror! I got lost a couple of times and finally put away my paper map for Ms. Google. My 20 minute bike ride took twice as long, but it was worth it.

I had packed 2 patterns for a sweater and blanket for a friend’s baby due in December. (I learned the hard way to not depend on being able to find a pattern in a knitting language you can read. And then how much yarn to buy?) Karen helped me find the NZ equivalents of the right weight yarn. I really enjoyed looking at and feeling all the beautiful different wool yarns. Karen figured out how to ring it up so I didn’t have to pay GST and Skeinz ships overseas for free for orders over $100 NZ. I appreciated her assistance especially as there was a steady stream of customers.


Karen asking the office how she can save me the GST: the key is she has to ship it directly to my home in Sacramento.

I decided to cycle back to the City Centre in the most direct route. It was another blood pumping pedaling experience. When I stepped off my bike I felt very satisfied with my yarn haul and as if I’d wrestled ewe to ground, sheared and spun wool all while being chased by wolf! I went back to my hotel, showered and treated myself to a delicious dinner at Bistronomy.


$20 NZ for 2 hours with a grace period. Includes helmet and lock.

Penguin Parade at Aquarium


The National Aquarium of New Zealand is not very large and only takes about an hour to see the displays, yet it includes a charming Penguin Cove where over a dozen injured little blue penguins live out their days in ease and repose. I watched Dora, the hand-raised penguin who really likes people and swims and chatters at the front of the pool, while another penguin sunned herself on the deck, and a third penguin swam for the joy of swimming. You can view through a window underwater and from above.

When the keepers came out at 1:30 to feed the penguins, almost all of the penguins came out to grab a fish or two. The penguins feed three times a day in view of the public (9:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. daily). One keeper shares information about the penguins while the other feeds them by hand. They warn about the threats to penguins like the pollution and fishing line that caught Gonzo and removed his fin and lower beak. The rescued penguins live longer at the aquarium than they would in the wild; one elderly penguin is 21 years compared to 12 years average in the wild. The keeper said she’ll be served her lunch “at home” likes Meals on Wheels.


The towns of Napier and Hastings were almost completely destroyed by an earthquake in 1931. Napier was rebuilt in the Art Deco style and continues to celebrate this architectural heritage in festivals and tours. Many cruise ships stop here for a day and one convenient penguin outing is to the Marine Parade and National Aquarium of New Zealand. For over a kilometer along the shoreline there are gardens and walkways that lead from the Hawkes Bay Museum to the Aquarium.

Entry to the National Aquarium is $20NZ for one adult. A family of four can visit for $54NZ. There is special pricing for students and seniors. The aquarium is open from 9 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. The café and gift shop are currently closed for remodeling.

It is a 20-minute walk from the tourist information centre to the aquarium. The paths are flat and easy to navigate if you are in a wheelchair or pushing a stroller. Just across the street from the I-Centre is a bike rental place. For $20NZ you can rent a cruiser with a helmet and lock for 2 hours. Most of Napier is completely flat so you can pedal to the aquarium, see the penguins and continue exploring.

3 New Zealand Cathedrals


Largest expanse of stain glass in Southern Hemisphere is in Auckland’s cathedral; designed by Nigel Brown

No one associates cathedrals with the new world. If you go to Europe you reserve time to see Notre Dame in Paris or St Paul’s in London. I am one of those odd people who checks out a cathedral while in New Zealand.

New Zealand has been inhabited by people for the shortest time of anywhere in the world. And for much of that time the Maori built fort like structures, but no cathedrals. Not until Europeans arrived with their ideas of suitable places to worship, and then every New Zealand city worth its salt needed a cathedral (or two as often the Roman Catholics followed suit).


Holy Trinity’s newest chapel

On this trip I have seen three Anglican cathedrals so far: Holy Trinity in Auckland, the temporary cathedral in Christchurch, and St John’s Cathedral in Napier. The history of New Zealand and the Anglican church are intertwined in the life of Bishop Selwyn. His portrait is generally found in each cathedral–unless they’ve been destroyed by earthquake.

The cathedral in Christchurch was recently felled by the February 2011 earthquake, but the Napier cathedral was also destroyed by an earthquake and fire in 1931. Unfortunately the quake struck while holy communion was in progress. As it states in the display at the back of the cathedral, “One parishioner, Edith Barry, (Mrs. T. Barry) was pinned beneath the falling beams and when she could not be extricated and fire began to rage through the stricken city she had to be given a merciful injection of morphine by Dr. G.E. Waterworth.” (Who said visiting churches is dull?)

St John’s Cathedral in Napier was rebuilt in the 1970s. It is very conducive to worship and has some lovely stain glass. It is not as grand as the cathedral in Christchurch was before it was damaged in 2010 and destroyed in 2011.  Sunday services are held at 8:00 and 10:00 a.m. I attended the later service and can vouch for the very talented choir.


We arrived in Christchurch just in time to attend the evensong service at the transitional cathedral, or Cardboard Cathedral at 4:30 p.m. The boys’ choir sang beautifully and the service was a blessed reminder that while the earth may heave, there is still some continuity and community that remains. The cathedral is constructed out of specially treated cardboard–hence the nickname “cardboard cathedral”. It was only meant to last five years and it has already been four. It will need to last much longer it seems as no one can resolve a way forward with some wanting to rebuild the former cathedral and others wanting to start afresh. Might I suggest a compromise? Consider the Coventry Cathedral where they incorporated some of the old cathedral that remained after the Blitz into the new modern design to beautiful effect.