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1931 Earthquake: Again the bells will toll

The bells of Hastings clock tower will again ring out this Friday at 10.47am, marking the exact moment that 86 year ago a 7.8 magnitude earthquake took the lives of 256 people across Hawke’s Bay.

It remains New Zealand’s deadliest earthquake, striking at 10.47am on Tuesday, February 3, 1931. It left the councils of the region, particularly Napier and Hastings, with the job of rebuilding the urban areas. Lesser damage was reported over an area stretching from Dannevirke to Gisborne.

As part of the rebuild, Hastings reconstructed its town clock; the site of the annual memorial. At last year’s 85th anniversary, Hastings mayor Lawrence Yule said that by all accounts rebuilding had brought the community together and gave people a sense of purpose during what was a “truly dreadful time”. The rebuilding of the clock tower allowed the familiar chimes to ring out, providing some small sense of normality.

Reports of the day described it as a “calamity” and a “nerve-shattering catastrophe”, saying that in Hastings more than 100 residents were killed, more than 2500 people required urgent medical help and 200 businesses were badly affected. Much of the “populace has to live out doors” in the wake of damage to homes, and services including power, street lights, sewerage and water systems were all disrupted.

“It is very difficult for us to imagine the devastation; the utter ruin that our people suffered, and each year we take time out to remember those who died; those who suffered injury, and those who rebuilt our city,” said Mr Yule.

The public commemoration this Friday [February 3] will start at 10.30am near the Hastings Clock Tower in the city centre, with the chimes ringing out at 10.46am.

 

 

4 October 2017

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