Get to Know the Inspiring Art and Architecture of Hastings
There are many aspects that make a city memorable and noteworthy, not only to visit but to call home and live your life in. Hastings is no different, and as the city has grown over the years, many unique sides have emerged.
Words by: Julia Rutherford
The cultural fabric of Hastings is rich and varied, with an arts scene that lifts up its community, celebrating artists and makers. There are galleries, big and small, incredible venues and retailers lending their support to burgeoning creatives.
Alongside this flourishing arts side of Hastings are interesting spaces and architecture to admire. Throughout Hastings’ history, there has been a great deal of redevelopment, partly due to the 1931 earthquake and, more recently, to the creation of a vibrant inner centre to help businesses grow. All over the city, careful restoration has been carried out to preserve Spanish Mission and Art Deco-style buildings, as nods to the past are vital for growth in the future.
201 Queen Street East, Hastings
One of the most significant developments in recent times for Hastings has been The Tribune precinct. For many years the former Hawke’s Bay Herald Tribune premises stood empty until Rob and Barb Hansen put their minds to returning these red brick buildings to their former glory and repurposing them for the community.
What has transpired is the creation of a collection of inspiring spaces housing hospitality stars such as Brave Brewing Co. and Oh My Goodness Breads, through to retail gems like Kindred Road, Real World and BAZAAR, plus a whole range of other services and tenants. With the establishment of laneways between the buildings, it’s easy to feel you’re somewhere like Melbourne or central London. The icing on the cake is the brand-new atrium space which is able to host a variety of events and functions.
Toitoi - Hawke's Bay Arts & Events Centre
109 Hastings Street South, Eastbourne Corner, Hastings
Speaking of significant developments, we cannot miss the spectacular Toitoi - Hawke's Bay Arts & Events Centre. Encapsulating the iconic Opera House and Municipal Building, Toitoi and its rejuvenation has created a collection of venue spaces and laneways like no other throughout the country.
There is a connection to the past, with the history and architecture of the buildings being honoured, while modern technology has created incredible opportunities for what these venues can play host to.
At the Opera House, there will be international superstars performing one night and a local school production the next, it’s all about providing opportunities for the community.
The Municipal Building includes function areas and the famous Assembly Room, an architectural gem with its Edwardian Neo-Baroque details and sprung dance floor, which is a novelty these days. On the street level, there is a collection of business spaces that are home to a gallery and multiple hospitality hot spots, such as Craft & Social and Cellar 495. The local iSite is also located here and has everything you need as a visitor to plot out your itinerary and make any ticket or event bookings - the friendly team is always ready to help you out.
Civic Square & Ngā Pou o Heretaunga
201 Warren Street South Road Hastings
Civic Square is an inspiring place in Hastings and an important point of cultural connectivity for the district.
History and art are focal points of the square, with Hastings War Memorial Library, Hastings City Art Gallery, Women’s Rest and the Hastings Cenotaph all located here. Perhaps the most significant site at the square, though is Ngā Pou O Heretaunga. These 18 pou tūpuna represent the 18 marae in the area and each face the direction of their marae. Taking time to reflect and appreciate the craftsmanship of these pou is a soul-nourishing experience. There is also a great deal of green space and a playground to enjoy at the square, making it the perfect place to unwind from a busy day.
Hastings City Art Gallery
201 Eastbourne Street East, Hastings
Hastings City Art Gallery has been a constant on the regional arts scene for many decades. The gallery is focused on showcasing high-quality contemporary art from Hawke's Bay, Aotearoa and beyond. With different areas in the gallery for exhibitions, there’s always a range of mediums on display. The gallery prides itself on its education programme, fostering an appreciation for the local arts scene among many of Hastings’ young ones.
103 Warren Street North, Hastings
In the centre of Hastings, you’ll find the visually interesting Landmarks Square, complete with an industrial steel shade pergola, a planted feature wall and a grassy area with plenty of seating options to soak up the sun and take a break in your day. The square is a recognition of a council and community initiative from the 1990s called Landmarks, which was dedicated to enhancing the city and bringing then-mayor Jeremy Dwyer’s vision of community pride to life.
227 Heretaunga Street East, Hastings
The arts, of course, extend to performing, and there’s no better bar venue to hear live music, open mic comedy and the occasional poetry slam than Common Room. Known as the best little bar in the bay, this local hangout has been welcoming performing artists for years. With a dedicated stage, lighting and sound system at the ready, Common Room is great for cultivating and supporting local talent. Make sure you check out the performance schedule on their website and head along for a great night out.
206 Heretaunga Street East, Hastings
Exciting retail venues are numerous in Hastings, and we are big fans of Blackbird Goods and their store in the centre of town. Owners Gemma and Nathan are passionate about stocking goods for your home that serve a purpose, are made to last and are beautiful to look at. They support many local artists and makers and travel to places like Bali to source items and meet with the artisans that produce them. Knowing their stories and where the items originate is important to the couple, and this ethos is evident when you are browsing Blackbird Goods.
Birdwoods Gallery & Café
298 Middle Road, Hastings
When it comes to inspiring spaces and supporting the arts, Birdwoods Gallery & Café is the place. A peaceful oasis in the countryside, where a former church has been turned into a gallery showcasing a range of goods sourced locally and from Africa. There are expansive gardens that are home to a unique sculpture garden and an old-fashioned sweet shop and homely café.
Humanity Books & Fine Art Supplies
107 Karamu Road North, Hastings
Hastings has many independent and locally owned retailers throughout the city centre and Humanity Books & Fine Art Supplies is one of them. A supporter of the arts scene and a great place to get your own artistic supplies, Humanity stocks a wide variety of products for all levels, from beginner painters through to experienced illustrators.
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