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Focus on survivors at 90th anniversary of Hawke’s Bay earthquake in Hastings


The old Post Office building on the corner of Queen and Russell Streets, Hastings.

Hastings district’s annual commemoration of the 1931 Hawke’s Bay earthquake takes on extra significance this year, the 90th anniversary of the event.

As with previous years the community will gather at the clock tower in Hastings city mall on February 3 at 10.30am.

At 10.47am the Hastings clock tower bells will ring to mark the exact moment the 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck 90 years ago, resulting in 256 lives lost with thousands more people requiring medical treatment.

The earthquake that rocked the region brought down buildings, which sparked fires, ruptured roads and caused mass destruction that took months and years to recover from.

Directly afterwards most homes lacked water, electricity, sewerage and chimneys, and people camped in open areas as continuous tremors made it dangerous to stay inside.

Much has been written about the earthquake, and this year guest speaker Hamilton Logan will share his memories of that day at his family home at Pukekino in the Kereru district.

“I will be talking about how it was seen through the eyes of a six-year-old; where I was, what the house was like and what it looked like afterwards, how we coped living in the country with no water.”

He will also talk a little about the experiences of his father and grandfather, and said he looked forward to seeing young people at the occasion.

“I hope to see some school children who will be able to relate to it.”

The ceremony will also include an opening performance by members of the City of Hastings Pipe Band, a karakia by kaumātua Jerry Hapuku, an address by mayor Sandra Hazlehurst, readings by local high school students, a haka performed by Te Aute College students, and a display of vintage cars.

Mrs Hazlehurst said the event was very special every year, but being the 90th anniversary made it an even more significant occasion.

“This year our memorial event will remember those who lost their lives, and will have a special focus on our region’s survivors.

“The Hawke’s Bay earthquake changed our community and our district significantly and we will always remember the hard work and resilience of so many people who helped rebuild our Hastings city that we are so proud of today.

“By coming together to share stories and remember that time, we can hand on the history of the earthquake to our younger generation.

“We invite all of the survivors and our community to join us for this special service at the Hastings clock tower.”

28 January 2021

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