A Walking Wonders Art Tour of Hastings Heretaunga
Ever since 1931, Hawke’s Bay has been ahead of the curve when it comes to art: the Napier earthquake prompting a rebuild which saw the city reinvent itself, art deco style. Although Napier required more of a rebuild, Hastings was certainly not exempt and many of those Art Deco and Spanish Mission-style buildings still stand today.
Words by: Nicole Mudgway
Photos by: Anna Briggs
In 2014, two of Hastings’ most historically rich buildings, the Opera House and Municipal Building, were closed due to them being earthquake prone. Rather than being demolished, extensive development saw the buildings reopen in 2022 as part of the Toitoi - Hawke’s Bay Arts and Events Centre, a precinct that is now the beating heart of Hastings’ culture and arts scene. Housing seven different events venues and numerous bars and eateries, an evening spent at Toitoi is the perfect way to cap off any day in the Bay. Check online for upcoming shows and bookings.
Fortunately, Hastings is very compact, making it an easy city to explore on foot. So lace up your walking shoes and follow this guide for a walking tour of Hastings’ arts scene, broken up with a series of nourishing pit stops along the way.
Start the Day Right
Join other locals and visitors getting their carb and caffeine fix at Cupple, a cafe run by Hawke’s Bay coffee roasters Firsthand Coffee. With a large glass window peering into the neighbouring Ya Bon bakery, you’ll be hard-pressed to turn down a freshly baked pastry, still warm from the oven next door. The cafe’s decor is minimalist and trendy, and the courtyard outside invites you to stay a while, if there’s time for another croissant.
Burn off that second pastry by venturing along to Prunus Awanui, a sculpture representing a cherry blossom, created by Philipp Meier. It was inspired by the vision of Jeremy Dwyer (mayor of Hastings in the 1980s), who rightfully believed the struggling city would one day blossom again.
Swing past the fun and interactive Hastings isite for all your information needs, as well as to taste and stock up on locally made Hawke’s Bay goodies. Whether it’s just information you’re after or a gift or souvenir, we’re sure you won’t leave empty handed. While you are there, venture into the Municipal Building for a meander, possibly grabbing something to go from Long Island Deli with its light and bright interior, and serving food of a similar vibe. Expect an extensive salad bar and plenty of Ottolenghi-inspired food, as well as sweet treats that will no doubt leave you tempted.
Explore the Arts
201 Eastbourne Street East, Hastings
On Eastbourne Street, Cinzah Merkens has designed and executed an impressive mural Te haaro o te Kaahu ki tuawhakarere, a piece that weaves together Hawke’s Bay's agriculture, nature and ancestral roots. In an alley off Eastbourne Street, there is another piece of art worth your while, a portrait of Omahu-born internationally recognised artist George Nuku, commissioned by Poihakena Ngawati (also known as TECHS).
What’s a city art tour without an art gallery? The Hastings City Art Gallery won’t leave you disappointed. Working with artists and communities to grow creativity, the gallery plays host to a rotating collection of contemporary exhibitions. From here, walk through Civic Square to view Nga Pou o Heretaunga, 18 traditionally carved pou, each wooden post representing an ancestor from marae around the Heretaunga district.
Head via Heretaunga Street past the Leaf Lights, a series of artistic pedestrian lights created by David Trubridge that reflect the trees and orchards of the Heretaunga Plains to Market Street, where opposite Bunnings lies a vibrant, botanical mural, cleverly designed by George Rose.
To Cap if Off
Stop in at Brave Brewing Co. for some well-deserved food and craft beer. A fun and relaxed brewery and taphouse, Brave Brewing is home to some of the country’s finest craft beer (the Tigermilk IPA is popular nation-wide) and some stellar hot-dogs, burgers and snacks that hit the spot.
Once re-energised, the surrounding Tribune precinct is a lively development housing a number of interesting and innovative eateries and stores, including much-loved hand-brand Real World, and homeware-meets-furniture shop Kindred Road.
Finish off the evening at Cellar 495, housed in the Municipal Building, a wine bar that also operates as a bistro, tasting room and wine shop before or after your pre-booked show at Toitoi, the perfect way to round out a day of exploring the arts scene Hastings has to offer.
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