Historic HB: Bay shook, rattled and rolled


The gent pictured marvels at a large boulder which came crashing down from Bluff Hill with tonnes of debris after the 1931 Hawke's Bay earthquake.

Initially it was thought that up to 50 people had been buried under the rubble, but fortunately this turned out to be incorrect.

Several vehicles were found to have been trapped deep in the landslide, and at least one man was feared dead inside his vehicle.

It turned out that the man had stolen a great deal of money on January 20, 1931, was wanted by police, and used the earthquake as an excuse to make himself scarce - only for the long arm of the law to catch up with him in May the same year.

Two women who were taking a stroll under the Bluff Hill were swept by the landslide of earthquake debris into the sea. One managed to clamber ashore, but the other had a struggle after being lodged between two rocks, before she managed to escape to land.

Miraculously, not one person died as a result of the slip at the time of the earthquake.

Part of the debris from the landslide (and the boulder, which was broken down by axes) was used to fill in an area on the Marine Parade. (I was told it took several decades to finally remove all the landslide debris from the earthquake).

A slip had occurred from Bluff Hill a year before the earthquake in 1930. Douglas Barr and his companion, Clare Kauter, were killed from the landslide while travelling in Mr Barr's vehicle.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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