Story: Historic earthquakes

Page 7. In the Napier earthquake

‘Then the world collapsed, or exploded. I knew not what was happening as I had never experienced an earthquake. Where grandad had been resting a minute before, a huge wardrobe crashed down. The noise of chimney bricks smashing onto the roof was alarming.’ Donald Locke remembers the Napier earthquake of 1931.

For people who lived through the Napier earthquake of 3 February 1931, the moment the big shake arrived became indelibly sketched on the memory. But for most people the quake was only the beginning. There followed days of looking after the injured, dealing with rubble and sometimes fire, and long nights of personal anxiety. Aftershocks continued for weeks.

We invited people from around New Zealand to send in their memories of the earthquake. Here is a selection.

What's your story?

A mother’s story

A mother’s story

Eleanor Kay, a mother of three, wrote to her family about the traumatic events.

A rush to the playground

A rush to the playground

Norma Wing’s familiar primary school became a place of terror.

Long way home

Long way home

Ray Copland came to consciousness alone in the playground of ‘a ghost school’.

On the farm

On the farm

Out at Fern Hill, the Napier earthquake was as frightening as for those in town.

How to cite this page:

Eileen McSaveney, 'Historic earthquakes - In the Napier earthquake', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/historic-earthquakes/page-7 (accessed 28 May 2019)

Story by Eileen McSaveney, published 12 Jun 2006, reviewed & revised 28 Mar 2011, updated 1 Nov 2017