There’s a common belief that the work of historians consists of collecting ‘the facts’ from documents and writing them down. And that’s it. I mean, how hard can it be? I can’t even begin to express the issues I have with such thinking. But let’s start with the obvious one – ‘the facts’. It’s something … More Figuring out the historical facts from the fakery
The magnitude 7.8 earthquake that hit New Zealand on 14 November – and the sequence of events that followed – has been complex in every sense. The main shock itself was a highly complex rupture of multiple faults that extended northwards and delivered a hefty punch to Wellington, well distant from the putative epicentre. That … More Does the Moon cause earthquakes – or is that a bit looney?
The latest batch of quakes to hammer central New Zealand got me thinking. In past decades the usual face of such events were street-scapes of broken buildings and scattered debris, typified by the ruin that struck Napier and Hastings in 1931. That disaster cued more than half a century of active quake-proofing measures, bolstered by … More The modern face of earthquakes in New Zealand
I took a few photos of central Wellington after the magnitude 7.8 quake that struck near Culverden on Monday. The energy of the quake was directed north, which is why Wellington was far harder hit than Christchurch, although Culverden is mid-way between the two cities. The plus-side, as far as I could see, was that … More A walk through Wellington after the 2016 quake
It’s been a rough week so far in New Zealand. How rough? Well, most of us were woken in the first minutes of Monday by the biggest onshore quake since 2009, and – at a magnitude of 7.5 – the largest to occur near any main population centres since 1931. [Update: figure officially revised to … More Earthquake, tsunami and floods…
Facts are curious things. There are empirical facts that can be independently shown to be true. And there are facts we ‘believe’ to be true, which most of us treat as if empirical. I have to share an experience I had involving the latter. Soon after my book on New Zealand’s engineering achievements hit the … More When ego intrudes into the facts of history
On 3 February 1931 a 7.8 magnitude earthquake devastated Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand – particularly hitting the town centres of Napier and Hastings. It remains the worst natural disaster ever to strike New Zealand in historic times – despite some doubt as to the precise casualty figure, it was still 50 percent more than the … More It’s 85 years since the Hawke’s Bay quake and we still don’t know how many died