Story: Tsunamis

Earthquake-generated tsunami

Earthquake-generated tsunami

This is a newspaper account of the land uplift and tsunami caused by the 1855 Wairarapa earthquake. It was published in the New Zealand Spectator and Cook’s Strait Guardian, 7 February 1855.

From measurements which have since been made it has been ascertained that the land has been raised to a height of from three feet six inches to four feet. All the shell fish attached to the rocks, that live below low water mark, in consequence of elevation of the land are dead, and the number is considerable enough to cause a strong smell to be perceived by those walking round the east side of the harbour towards Evans’ Bay. The Bally Rock off Point Jerningham, which was formerly 18 inches below low water (spring tides) is now about two feet above low water. About ten minutes after the first great shock a great wave entered the harbour, which was estimated to have been above twelve feet in vertical height; from the narrow entrance of the harbour compared to its area very little damage was done by it, but in the open and exposed boat harbour at Te Kopi, all the buildings, &c., on the beach, were swept away by a similar wave. Two coasters, one from the Kaikoras, the other from Point Underwood, on their approaching the harbour the next morning at daylight, passed through an immense quantity of dead fish, principally ling, and quantities of dead fish were found on the beach, and at Burnham water.

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Reference: New Zealand Spectator and Cook's Strait Guardian, 7 February 1855

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How to cite this page:

Eileen McSaveney, 'Tsunamis - New Zealand’s tsunami history', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/document/6216/earthquake-generated-tsunami (accessed 12 December 2019)

Story by Eileen McSaveney, published 12 Jun 2006, reviewed & revised 1 Aug 2017