Earthquakes in Tiniroto District

Have there been any major earthquakes in Tiniroto?

Earthquakes are often felt in Tiniroto but there hasn’t actually been a majorly destructive earthquake centred in Tiniroto. However, there have been two major earthquakes in the wider area which have led to fatalities and mass destruction and actually had an impact on the Tiniroto community.


1931 Napier Earthquake:

At 10:47 am on 3 February, 1931, a violent shock hit Napier and went right up the east coast and was even felt here in Tiniroto. It lasted for two and a half minutes, and it was 7.9 on the Richter scale. There were 525 aftershocks and the death total was 258 over all. There was 161 being in Napier, 93 in Hastings and 2 in Wairoa. Fortunately the damage in the Tiniroto area was not extensive.

One story I read about it said someone in Tiniroto was pruning a tree and he suddenly had a funny feeling about something. So then he jumped out of the tree and ran to higher ground and the other person with him ran too. When the earthquake began, the ground went to slushy mud in seconds. . .

Bob Berry: "Yes I remember the 1931 Earthquake. Pat and I were at Tiniroto school I think that I was the oldest pupil at the time and we had just came in after the morning break and were all thrown together in a heap with the ground heaving like waves in the sea. The old school building was O.K. apart from the chimney down as with all the houses in the district, all rather inconvenient as temporary cooking places had to be erected outside."

The 1931 earthquake which destroyed Napier also brought down the Hangaroa Bluffs. Buses had to stop at either end of the slip while passengers transferred by foot across the base of the slip. There were no bulldozers at that time and the clearing of the slip had to be done by shovel and wheelbarrow.

1966 Gisborne Earthquake:

In 1966 an earthquake hit East Coast and Gisborne but it was certainly was felt here in Tiniroto. Here is a story from Mrs Alley's experience.

Marg: "It was 1966 and it was my first year high school when I was 12yrs old. There was a major earthquake that hit Gisborne. I think it was centred at Te Karaka. I was at boarding school when one of the head teachers was trying to get from the hostel to main school building so she could get to us but the ground was like waves rolling into the beach it was about the length of the football field. She screamed “girls, girls I can’t get to you”, she run back to main school building terrified. There was massive damage at the old post office building which is the police station now . The school tank come off its stands. There were lots of aftershocks for at least 2 weeks. There were heaps of building demolished."

1993 Tiniroto Earthquake:

On the 10th of August 1993 in an earthquake near Gisborne here in Tiniroto it measured6.3 on the Richter scale but citizens here Tiniroto say it could have been 8.0 on the Richter scale. For some people the insides of their houses collapsed, and lots of chimneys were damaged.

Mrs. Law: “There was a terrible rocking and rolling motion. I was watching TV and Greg was down the other end of the house. The boys were in bed asleep, I yelled out to Greg to get the boys. He told me they would be fine and we stood in the doorway and watched the hallway rippling towards us, until it stopped. I then checked the boys and my yelling had woken them up but they were fine. Lots of other Tiniroto familes told stories of how bookshelves not attached to walls came crashing down - just missing their children's beds!!! I was quite scared because I thought this might be the big one! Luckily it wasn’t, nothing huge fell down and no one was injured. The phones were overloaded for hours though as people tried to ring family to make sure they were OK. "

2007 Gisborne Earthquake:

In Gisborne 20-12-2007 at 8:55pm on Thursday an earthquake hit the east coast 50km south of Gisborne measuring 6.8 on the Richter scale. One person was killed and 11 injured. There was mass destruction to buildings throughout the city and area. It was a real tragedy for the citizens of Gisborne.

Although the epicentre was nearer to Gisborne, this earthquake was certainly felt in Tiniroto. People lost possessions but luckily no one was seriously injured. Here are a few accounts from Tiniroto residents during the quake.

Pam: "My husband and I were with our friends in a restaurant in town, we just sat down to have dinner, there was nice wine and lovely looking food and then the next minute all the glasses and bottles on the shelves just fell off. I got under table and pushed everyone out of way. My entire body was under the table it was very scary. When it had stopped we went up to my parents to check they were okay. There was lots of damage on the way up to their house. The roads were very busy. My parents were badly shaken. There TV was thrown across the room there was no power. It was very frightening. There were big cracks in buildings, broken windows, glass and chimneys had fallen down."

Marg: "When we were heading back into town from Wainui to go shopping we were just driving around from the turn off to go into main road. I thought I had a flat tyre. I could see the power lines and power poles were moving in crazy directions and cars struggling to stay on the road and they couldn’t. The road was rolling. I got a text to say there had been a massive earthquake when I was going over the bridge I realized that the lights in town were all off. There was lots of glass on the streets. There were lots of lost people standing under the eaves of shops looking lost. Back at our house there was major damage to the roof at the woolshed. The truss needed to be repaired we needed a lot of force to move the major beam back into place."

Reuben: “Our TV fell down and smashed. The pantry wall had a crack in it. The china cabinet fell on the coffee table and the whole place was a mess!”

Mrs. Trafford: “I was sitting working at the computer in the office and suddenly my chair starting shaking. I jumped up and looked out the window, everything was shaking. It looked like the ute was going to smack into the side of the shed it was rocking so much! It felt like it went for ages but a matter of seconds later everything was quiet again. I was immediately concerned for my husband who was out hunting.”

Me: "Mum was setting the table when we heard the rumbling and felt the floor shaking. Micaella yelled "get under the table!" We all dived under the table and hung onto the legs of the table. I was a horrible rocking motion like being in a little boat in a wild sea."

By Ethan