One of Napier's prized gems was its seaside location - and every opportunity was taken to promote the town as the "Nice" of the South Pacific.
This photo of the Marine Parade beach, with male-only swimmers was circa early 1900s, and was staged for a postcard. It was forbidden then for the sexes to bathe together, and it wasn't until the 1930s it started to change. Large tents were put along the shoreline for the men to change into their swimming costumes, and the relative modesty of their bathing suits can be seen.
The tidal water went close to the seawall in those days and the beach was known to be dangerous for swimming. Multiple deaths occurred because the footing suddenly dropped away.
In December 1896 (not 1886 as widely reported), the beach was the location of Hawke's Bay's only known fatal shark attack.
When a swimmer noticed a large shark swim past, he headed for shore, then alerted others in the water. But the shark had already attacked a 30-year-old Scotsman, Bright Cooper. Four men - Sweet, Goudy, Saxby and Triggs - all bravely swam 30 metres out and retrieved his body.
The newspapers of the day gave full and detailed descriptions of what the shark had done to the victim (and it won't be repeated here).
A promising future had been seemingly ahead of Cooper. He was a partner in a farming venture, and that week was about to board a steamer for Auckland, where he was to be married.
A month earlier, he had taken out a life-insurance policy of £500 (which would now equate to $90,000).
Cooper was buried in the old Napier Cemetery.
Newspapers around New Zealand reported this fatal shark attack, and many warned of the dangers of sea bathing, saying that if people continued to swim in the sea someone else was likely to die.
Before the 1931 Hawke's Bay earthquake, occasionally large sharks would make their way into the Ahuriri lagoon and port area - and when spotted, men would give chase by foot or boat, and if the hapless shark was caught it would be beaten to death.
Men tried to catch the shark that killed Cooper with long lines but it was never taken.