Art Deco Buildings

For such a young country, New Zealand is home to a wide range of architectural styles. 

Issue information

One architectural style dominated construction in the 1930s - Art Deco. Popular between 1925 and 1950, the style symbolised the early 20th century's fascination with speed, power, technology and progress.

The rise of Art Deco was in part brought about by the disastrous Napier earthquake of 1931, which reduced most of the town to rubble. Rebuilt, literally from the ground up, Napier became the home of some of the most beautiful and famous Art Deco buildings in the Southern Hemisphere. The town's reputation is now so well established that in February 1999, Napier hosted the Fifth World Congress on Art Deco.

Art Deco style reaches well beyond Napier. Classic and diverse examples of Art Deco architecture from around New Zealand are shown in this four stamp issue.

Product Listing for Art Deco Buildings

Click on image to enlarge.

Image Title Description Price
Single Stamp

 Single 40c 'Civic Theatre in Auckland' gummed stamp.

The Civic Theatre is the only movie palace in New Zealand built on the scale of the huge fantasy cinemas of which every respectable American city could boast at least one. The Civic was conceived and constructed before the Depression began, when the boom of the 1920s was at its height. However, two months before the opening, Black Friday on Wall Street changed the world and although this would not have been apparent at the gala opening on 20 December 1929.

$0.40
Single Stamp

Single $1.00 'Masonic Hotel in Napier' gummed stamp.

Napier’s massive earthquake in 1931 was a disaster for the city and the province of Hawke’s Bay. By good fortune this happened when the Art Deco style was new to New Zealand and approaching the height of its popularity overseas. The new Napier arose when architects were seeking a new style for a new century and buildings were beginning to take on a new look, but ornament was not yet dead.

$1.00
Single Stamp

Single $1.50 'Medical and Dental Chambers in Hastings' gummed stamp.

Hastings did not suffer as badly as Napier in the 1931 earthquake, because it was further from the epicentre, had fewer large masonry buildings and did not lose its water supply as completely as Napier, enabling the fires which broke out to be contained. But many buildings were lost, and most of the facades. As a result, Hastings too looked, by 1933, like a brand new, modern city, built like Napier in the styles fashionable at the time - Stripped Classical, Spanish Mission and Art Deco.

$1.50
Single Stamp

Single $1.80 'Buller County Chambers in Westport' gummed stamp.

People in other countries are often surprised that Art Deco reached isolated New Zealand. It certainly did reach New Zealand - even its more isolated parts. Westport boasts two important Art Deco buildings – the Westport Borough Council building and the former Buller County Council building (illustrated on the stamp).

$1.80
First Day Cover First day cover with stamps affixed. Cancelled on the first day of issue. $5.20

 Masonic Hotel in Napier - $1.00
Napier’s massive earthquake in 1931 was a disaster for the city and the province of Hawke’s Bay. By good fortune this happened when the Art Deco style was new to New Zealand and approaching the height of its popularity overseas. The new Napier arose when architects were seeking a new style for a new century and buildings were beginning to take on a new look, but ornament was not yet dead.

Technical information

Date of issue: 10 February 1999
Designer: Donna McKenna, Wellington, New Zealand
Printer: Southern Colour Print, New Zealand
Stamp size: 28mm x 44mm
Sheet size: 50 stamps per sheet
Process: Lithography
Perforation gauge: 14
Paper type: 103 gsm red phosphor coated
Period of sale: These stamps remained on  sale until 9 February 2000.