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Memories and reflection at Hastings’ Hawke’s Bay earthquake commemoration

Mayor and Survivors

The 91st anniversary of the Hawke’s Bay earthquake was commemorated with a small ceremony at St Matthew’s Church today, followed by the laying of wreaths at the Hastings city centre clock tower.

The service was moved from its traditional venue at the city centre mall, and was invite-only in line Covid-19 red traffic light setting requirements.

It was attended by earthquake survivors, councillors, emergency services representatives, members of the Lindisfarne College Pipe Band and local school leaders.

Mayor Sandra Hazlehurst talked of the devastation caused by the two powerful shakes, 30 seconds apart, starting at 10.47am on February 3.

"We remember those families who lost their loved ones, those who were injured and survived that tragic day, and the months of hardship that followed.

“We remember the community who worked tirelessly together to help with the rescue and those who were tasked to rebuild our town and district after this horrific earthquake.”

She spoke of the huge clean-up efforts that went into repairing and restoring the infrastructure of the district, including rebuilding the bridge between Havelock North and Hastings, fixing 56,000 square metres of roads, and repairing the Municipal Building.

“As we recall the rebuild of our town 91 years ago following New Zealand’s strongest earthquake, we appreciate today the significance and importance of our men and women who rebuilt Hastings.

“They showed what a community can achieve when they care for each other. Their strength and resilience in the aftermath of this devastating earthquake ensured Hastings recovered and prospered.”

Archdeacon of Hawke’s Bay Cities and Parish Priest of Greater Hastings David van Oeveren noted that St Matthew’s Church was itself an earthquake survivor, the only inner city church to withstand the quake, although it suffered much damage.

“We can learn from this experience – we have had two years of upheaval with Covid – by remembering past events like this we can reflect on what they can teach us,” he said.

Three survivors attended the event – Nola Manley, Peter Price and Rex Ingram.

Ms Manley was nine years old and was in class at Havelock North Primary School at the time.

“We all rushed outside and went on the basketball court – I was clinging to our teacher.

“The principal said ‘go home now and let your parents know you are safe’.”

Her wider family, about eight of them, lived in a tent for a long time afterwards, she said.

Mr Ingram was only 10 months old, but as he grew older remembers his parents talking a lot about the “quake” and the reconstruction efforts that followed.

Councillor Kevin Watkins was the ceremony MC, Hastings Boys High School head boy Quaid Crawford and Hastings Intermediate School ambassador Te Aroha Mohi gave readings, Kaumātua Jerry Hapuku led a karakia, Hastings ambassador and councillor Henare O’Keefe led the National Anthem and read out the Roll of Remembrance, and Bishop of Waiapu Andrew Hedge led a period of reflection and prayer. 

After the ceremony, the survivors joined Mrs Hazlehurst in laying two wreaths at the town clock, which features two plaques listing the names of all 91 of those from Hastings who died as a result of the earthquake.

3 February 2022

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