'I'm always looking for the Hows and the Whys and the Whats,' said Muskrat, 'That is why I speak as I do. You've heard of Muskrat's Much-in-Little, of course?'
'No,' said the child. 'What is it?'
- The Mouse and his Child. Russell Hoban.

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Thursday, 16 September 2010

The 1931 Napier earthquake

Recently thoughts of mine and others in New Zealand, have been drifting back over the years to our school lessons about the two and a half-minute, 7.8-sized earthquake that had such a huge impact in the Hawkes Bay area back in 1931. As a school-child, I was especially able to relate to the fact that it was the first day back at school after the summer holidays. I knew all the parents would be worried not being able to check if their children were ok.
Today I discovered a remarkable NZ National Library website called 'PapersPast'. On it I have been reading the news of that day, February 3, 1931, just as others in New Zealand did on that same day when the first information came through about the huge damage to Napier and Hastings. The news of the quake got to other parts of NZ via the ships that were offshore of Napier, for all telegraph links with Napier were cut. The naval sloop 'Veronica' was run aground due to the sea floor heaving upwards. This land and sea-bed rising was to have a profound effect on the area, allowing more land area for the development of the port of Napier, and promoting its population growth over that of nearby Hastings.
But in the short term, everyone was concentrating on the widespread destruction in Napier and Hastings, raging fires and 256 dead, not to mention other damage in other areas from that big jolt that was felt all over the North Island, and the after-shocks.


  1. Earthquakes are terrifying, i had not realized you were on a fault line too.

  2. Yes, Katherine, I have blogged a lot on the Napier 'Quake because each year we have the service and the ringing of the Veronica's bell which now resides in Napier. Three of the family's children and Martin are or were all involved in the Sea Scouts who are responsible for guarding the bell on the day. I've found it a profoundly moving issue even since I first visited New Zealand and lived in just outside Napier.

  3. No wonder with so many aftershocks that I've read about w/Christchurch... I hope everyone stays safe.