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Hawke's Bay Earthquake 1931  Te Rū Whenua o Te Matau-a-Māui 1931

0370123 HDL Recollect Earthquake Link0370123 HDL Recollect Earthquake page imageTuesday 3 February 1931 - a typical calm hot Hawke's Bay summer day.

At 10.46.43am Hawke's Bay was devastated by two violent shocks in quick succession, followed for days by aftershocks.

The earthquake of magnitude 7.8* was recorded all around the world. *Institute of Geological & Nuclear Sciences Limited (GNS).

The town centres of Napier and Hastings were the worst affected, with masonry buildings and brick facades collapsing. Wooden buildings were less damaged but fire destroyed many of these.

The fires were worst in Napier where no water was available as the water supply system was destroyed. In Hastings most fires were generally contained with some water being available. Power cuts affected the water pumps. The Grand Hotel, already badly damaged, caught fire.

There were many casualties - 256 were killed, 2 missing, over 400 hospitalised with serious injuries. The Nurses Home on the hill in Napier collapsed, killing nurses who were sleeping after night duty. There were sad stories of people being buried alive.

1931 HB Earthquake - Library Resources


  • Hastings Library has newspapers on microfilm covering this period.
  • Some recent newspaper articles have been catalogued


The following are some of the books held in the Hastings District Libraries on the 1931 Hawke's Bay Earthquake, listed with the most recent at the top.  Most Hawke's Bay local history books include sections on the 'quake and aftermath.

1931 HB Earthquake - Online Resources

New Zealand History online

Te Ara - The Encyclopedia of New Zealand

An Encyclopedia of New Zealand (1966)

Christchurch City Libraries

In memory of those who lost their lives in Hastings and District

"Their sun went down before it was noon"

The list below has been compiled by Hastings Library staff from various sources.

We will be pleased to hear of any further information you may have. Please email or phone +64 06 871 5000.

Memorial plaques to those who died were installed at the clock by the Hastings District Council in 1995.

Hastings Casualty List

Alexander, Thomas Wilson, 45, Paki Paki
Allan, Sylvia Margaret Fordie, 16, Hastings 
Alloway, Ivy Patricia, 18, Hastings 
Ashworth née McCarter, Mrs Ellen, 37, Tikokino
Barrett née Atkins, Mrs Sarah Naomi, Hastings 
Bartle, William Morley, 61, Hastings  
Bartlett née Caldow, Mrs Mary Hodge, 48, Hastings 
Berry née Bartlett, Mrs Myra George, 28, Napier  
Bohan [Bohane] née Sullivan, Mrs Ellen, 58, Hastings  
Bohan, Kathleen, 16,  Hastings  
Brace, Henry Herbert, 40, Hastings  
Brooker, Henry, 55, Paki Paki 
Brown, Raymond Kenneth Broburg, 21, Hastings
Buck, Mary Teresa, Hastings 
Butler, Gwendoline Ethel, 22, Havelock North
Cambridge, Olive Gwendoline, 18, Hastings 
Cleary, Gladys Alma, 24, Hastings  
Cockerill née Turner, Mrs Emma Clara, 78, Hastings 
Cole née Barnes, Mrs Ethel Rose, 30, Hastings  
Cole, Peter Henry, 3, Hastings 
Cole, William Edwin Francis, 4, Hastings  
Colebourne, John Henry, 73, Hastings 
Collins, Mary, 70 Hastings  
Cook, Thomas, 42, Havelock North 
Couper, Brian, 2, 622 Ellison Road, Hastings
Couper, Phillipa Maud, 12, Otane  
Crawford, John Herbert [William?], 35, of Hastings 
Dimond, Thomas Henry, 20,  Hastings 
Drummond, Charles Gordon, 18,  Hastings 
Dyer, Herbert, 54,  Hastings
Ellis née Burr, Olive Frances, 27, Greenmeadows
Farmery, Gladys Lilian, 21, Hastings 
Fredsberg, Rex Ernest, 13, Hastings  
Gigg, Albert James, 19,  Hastings 
Gill, Thomas Henry, 56, Hastings  
Gondringer, Father (Bernard Joseph), Hastings 
Goodall, Albert Edward, 36, Hastings 
Goodall, Annie May, 22, Hastings 
Graham, Raymond Stanley, 18, Hastings  
Grant, Gordon Hill, 40, Hastings  
Grudnoff, Nina, 18, Hastings
Harris, Doreen Myra, 4, Hastings 
Hawkins, Rita 2 weeks, Hastings  
Haxton, Doris Emma, 28, Hastings 
Haxton, Sabina May, 26, Hastings  
Heighway, James Woodford, 34, Hastings  
Heney, Cyril Herbert, 14, Hastings  
Holland, Edward (Edmund) Alfred, 35, Hastings  
Hong Young Nan, 29, Hastings 
Hooper, Brian, 2, Hastings 
Horsley née Clarke, Mrs Constance Emily, 33, Hastings  
Houlahan, Eleanor (Elinor) May, 30, Hastings  
Hunt, William James, 56, Hastings 
Jenkins, Lily, 16, Hastings  
Jensen née Woodrow, Agnes Mary, 62, Haumoana  
Jones, Ernest Cecil, 47, Hastings  
Jones, Grace Brandon, 19, Hastings  
Kirkpatrick née Hickey, Mary Ann, 45, Hastings 
Lambert née Allen, Beatrice Elizabeth, Hastings
Leaning, John England, Hastings
Lewis, Percival Hope, Hastings 
Lincoln, Eric Charles Earl, Hastings
Love, William Charles, Hastings 
Maclennan, John Roderick (Roy), 58, Havelock North  
Maye, Thomas John, Hastings 
Mcdonald née Thompson, Mrs Ellen Frances, 44, Hastings  
Mcdonald, John Spencer (Jock), 22, Hastings  
McLean, Mary Hannah, 55,  Hastings
McLeod née Horrell, Mrs Edith Mary, 47, Hastings  
McLeod née Castle, Mrs Mary Alice, 45, Paki Paki  
McMillan, Irvine Harold, 13, Hastings 
Morunga, Mrs Ramu Maru (Raina Marie), 45, Bridge Pa
Morunga, Takataroa Mareo, 7, Bridge Pa
Murcott, Doris Mabel (Maud), Woodville  or Dannevirke 
Murray, Dina Jane, 2,  Hastings 
Murray née McKay, Mena Mary (Wilhelmina Mary), 36,  Hastings 
Nuttall, Elsie Ella, 19, Hastings  
Ogden, Henry, 35, Hastings 
Ogilvie, Bertram Verdun, Hastings 
O'Neill, Margaret Teresa, 33,  Hastings  
Orr, Doris Evelyn, 21, Hastings
Pointon, Edward [Edwin] Arthur (Ted), 56, Hastings 
Rattray, Alexander, Edward 55, Riccarton (Christchurch) 
Ross, John Alexander, 57, Hastings  
Russ, Rodney Francis, 1,  Hastings  
Ryan, Arthur Lever, 56, Hastings  
Schmoll, Ernest George, 57 Hastings 
Shackleford, Leonard William, 21,  Hastings (of Waipawa)
Smith, Christina, Hastings 
Spence, Shona Eileen, 7, Hastings 
Steer, Mabel Annie (Ann), 22, Hastings 
Stephenson, George Gabriel, 48, Hastings  
(Stevenson, George, Hastings) 
Symes, George Oliver, 22, Hastings  
Thompson, Ivy Julia Carr, 38, Hastings
Tonkin, Horace John, Hastings
Turner, Mrs Leona (Lena), 36, Hastings 
Vercoe, Richard Collins (Dick), 40, Hastings 
Walker, Herbert, 51, Hastings  
Walker, Walter Zealand, 45, Hastings 
Walshe née Oxenham, Ada May, 53, Hastings  
Wells, Alice Mary [Trilby] (Molly),17,  Hastings  
Whyte, Patricia (Patsy), 8, Hastings

Hastings people who died in Napier

Collins, Mary, 70, Hastings
McLean, Mary Hannah, 55, Hastings
McMillan, Irvine Harold, 13, Hastings
Ogden, Henry, 35, Hastings
Pointon, Edward Arthur, 56, Hastings


Information supplied by Hastings War Memorial Library Local History and additional information by Hawke’s Bay Today & on 3rd of February 2016.

Earthquake commemoration in Hastings

Every year on February 3, Hastings commemorates the anniversary of the 1931 Hawke's Bay Earthquake.

A special ceremony open to the general public is held at the Hastings City Centre Mall to remember the day that changed lives in Hastings and wider Hawke's Bay, and to celebrate the city and community around us.  Stories of how the event reshaped Hastings are told and wreaths are laid at the clock tower in memory of the lives lost in the earthquake.

The service starts at 10.30am, with the clock tower bells ringing at 10.47, the exact time the quake struck our region.

View our Hawke's Bay Earthquake collection on Hastings Recollect.


Monday 10.00am - 5.30pm
Tuesday 9.00am - 7.00pm
Wednesday 9.00am - 5.30pm
Thursday 9.00am - 7.00pm
Friday 9.00am - 5.30pm
Saturday 10.00am - 4.00pm
Sunday 1.00pm - 4.00pm

Havelock North

Monday 10.00am - 5.30pm
Tuesday 9.00am - 5.30pm
Wednesday 9.00am - 5.30pm
Thursday 9.00am - 5.30pm
Friday 9.00am - 5.30pm
Saturday 10.00am - 4.00pm
Sunday 10.00am - 1.00pm


Monday 10.00am - 5.30pm
Tuesday 9.00am - 5.30pm
Wednesday 9.00am - 5.30pm
Thursday 9.00am - 5.30pm
Friday 9.00am - 5.30pm
Saturday 10.00am - 4.00pm

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