Remembering the Hawke’s Bay quake of ’31 – and the ‘big ones’ of 1460

It’s the eighty-seventh anniversary today of New Zealand’s most lethal historical disaster;  the Hawke’s Bay earthquake. Around 10.47 am on the sunny morning of 3 February, a magnitude 7.8 quake struck the district and threw the towns of Napier and Hastings into ruin. Damage extended from Gisborne in the north to Whanganui in the south-west, … More Remembering the Hawke’s Bay quake of ’31 – and the ‘big ones’ of 1460

Figuring out the historical facts from the fakery

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

Does the Moon cause earthquakes – or is that a bit looney?

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 modern face of earthquakes in New Zealand

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