Hawke's Bay Earthquake

The earthquake (7.8 on the Richter scale) completely destroyed the cities of Napier, Hastings, and Havelock North. It claimed the lives of 258 people and injured another 3,000. Numerous aftershocks (including one at 7.3 on the Richter scale on February 13) added to the devastation. Since, at this point, New Zealand had no functioning disaster response plan and traffic routes had not been fully developed, the Navy was the only agency able to provide any form of aid. The expression “Thank God for the Navy” has been anchored in New Zealand’s collective memory ever since.

The earthquake led to the revision of local construction standards and building regulations. Further, since most buildings constructed after the earthquake were designed during a period in which Art Deco featured as a dominant architectural style, Napier remains internationally renowned for its unique clusters of buildings in this style.

Further Readings: 
  • Johnson, David M., and Lisa J. Pearse. Hazards in Hawke’s Bay. Napier: Hawke’s Bay Regional Council, 2007.
  • Wright, Matthew. Quake: Hawke’s Bay 1931. Auckland: Reed Publishing, 1931.