Kōrero: Historic earthquakes

Account of the 1848 earthquake

The transcription below is of this letter written by Henry Chapman to his father, dated 18 October 1848. He describes the earthquakes felt in Wellington two days earlier.

Homewood, Karori,
October 18, 1848.

My dear Father,

We have been visited by a succession of Earthquakes of a severe and alarming character commencing at 20 minutes before 2 on Monday morning and still going on at intervals of about an hour. Every brick building in the town is either destroyed or injured and all or nearly all the wooden buildings have lost their chimneys. One child was killed by the falling of a gable and the father much injured. The destruction of property is very considerable. The women and children were last night wailing about the beach and all feel uncertainty as to the future and even where this will end.

Generally our earthquakes have lasted only about half a minute or even less. These I have often described but the first of these occurred at 20 m. before 2 in the night between Sunday and Monday did not cease its vibrations for 10 minutes and was very strong for about 2 minutes. The house rocked very violently. My first impulse was to gather up the younger children rouse Harry and rush out but a moment’s thought produced a conviction that nothing would go but the chimneys and they were not in a position to hurt anyone. For an hour the vibration was excessive – every few minutes increasing to shock. By 6 in the morning I should think about 100 shocks must have occurred but they seemed to diminish in frequency and in force.

Te whakamahi i tēnei tūemi

Alexander Turnbull Library
Reference: qms-0419-654

Permission of the Alexander Turnbull Library, National Library of New Zealand, Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa, must be obtained before any re-use of this image.

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Te tuhi tohutoro mō tēnei whārangi:

Eileen McSaveney, 'Historic earthquakes - The 1848 Marlborough earthquake', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/mi/zoomify/4386/account-of-the-1848-earthquake (accessed 26 June 2024)

He kōrero nā Eileen McSaveney, i tāngia i te 12 Jun 2006, reviewed & revised 28 Mar 2011, updated 1 Nov 2017