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Local History

Ngāti Kahungunu are the tangata whenua of the Hawke's Bay area, who trace their origins to the Tākitimu waka, which arrived in Aotearoa from Rarotonga around 1100-1200 AD.  Ngāti Kahungunu were one of the first Māori tribes to encounter European settlers, with Captain Cook and the HMS Endeavour landing in Napier in October 1769. 

In the 1830's, traders, whalers, missionaries and other forerunners of a permanent European settlement began to appear.  Napier; originally known as Ahuriri; continued to grow as more settlers arrived.  On 3 February 1931, Napier was hit by a devastating earthquake measuring 7.8 on the richter scale, which literally changed the landscape of Napier.  Napier was rebuilt in the Art Deco style; continuing grow into the city we know today.

Napier Library has a wide range of resources to help you in your journey of discovery as you learn about our rich history.  Kia manahau!


  • Aerial Map Collection - these crown photos cover the Napier and Hawke's Bay land disctrict.
  • Digital Content page - we have a wide range of useful databases and online content available.
  • Heritage Collection Hawke's Bay - a valuable secondary resource on Napier and Hawke's Bay, including the crown purchases of Māori land in early provincial Hawke's Bay.
  • Heritage Māori Collection - full of useful resources, including tribal history, pre-European New Zealand history, and modern history from a Māori viewpoint.
  • Newspapers - we have The Daily Telegraph (1881-1999), Hawke's Bay Herald (1877-1904), and Hawke's Bay Today (1999-current) available to view on microfilm.
  • Oral History Collection - interviews with local people on events in Napier's history.
  • Tāhuhu Kōrero - History page - full of useful resources for discovering Māori history.


The Library hold an Introduction to Local History course each term.  Designed for those new to local history, this class explores the resources available through Napier Libraries, along with some tips and tricks to help you along your research journey.  To sign up for this free class, check our our Free Digital Skills Workshop page.

Research help:

If you would like any help finding your way through our resources, we have a Research Enquiry service available, or you can ask our friendly staff.   For that one annoying question we also have weekly EzySearch sessions where our Research Librarians will help you discover your own answers.

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Hop on the buses! We're partnering with GoBay Buses to get you to Taradale Library.
Have your library card ready and travel from Napier to Taradale return for free.
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Temporary closure of Napier Library and MTG Hawke’s Bay
Napier Library and MTG Hawke’s Bay will close from 5pm Wednesday 23rd December due to urgent remedial work needed on the building’s sprinkler system.
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Napier Libraries is one of Napier City Council's great facilities/services. There are many more...

Napier Municipal Theatre

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View website for Napier Municipal Theatre

Par2 MiniGolf

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The Faraday Centre

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MTG Hawke's Bay

Comprising a Museum, Theatre and Gallery - MTG is home to a significant collection of objects that form the foundation of distinctive exhibitions, a world-class research facility and the MTG Theatre.
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Napier Aquatic Centre

Situated in the centre of Napier, in the middle of Onekawa Park, the Napier Aquatic Centre is a safe and affordable aquatic facility for everyone.
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Napier Conference Centre

We offer an all purpose built venue that uniquely combines spectacular outlooks with functional layout.
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National Aquarium of New Zealand

Nowhere else in New Zealand will you discover a wider range of marine animals and native species in a single facility than at the National Aquarium of New Zealand.
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Bay Skate

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Parklands Residential Estate

Located in the Art Deco city of Napier. We have worked closely with our builders to promote and develop high quality housing within an open-aspect environment.
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Napier City Council

For Napier City residents and citizens to have easy access to see what council are currently working on, completed, what they do, facilities, and council information.
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Kennedy Park Resort Napier

We are Hawkes Bay's premier holiday accommodation park providing an array of facilities to keep the entire family entertained.
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Napier i-SITE Visitor Centre

Visit the Napier i-SITE to find out more about what is happening in Hawkes Bay, from events, activities and accommodation.
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