The 86th anniversary of the deadly 1931 Hawke's Bay earthquake drew people both young and old together for the annual commemoration service at Hastings Clock Tower.

The public commemoration started at 10.30 this morning, with the chimes of the tower ringing at 10.47 - the exact time the earthquake struck killing 256 people, injuring thousands and devastating the region.

Hastings Mayor Lawrence Yule spoke at the service and said: "We are here not only to remember this tragic day but also to celebrate the cities we have around us and the communities we all share.

"While this service and commemoration is held in Hastings, we should remind ourselves of not only the devastation that was caused in Hastings but also in our twin city Napier.

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"As we remember the tragedy of 1931, we should ponder on what happened and the loss of life and the largest single event to impact on the Hawke's Bay community but we should also learn from it and make sure we are prepared as we possible can be."

Napier Mayor, Bill Dalton, Rt Rev Andrew Hedge, Bishop of Waipu, Kaumatua Jerry Hapuku, Tuki Tuki MP, Craig Foss, Hastings Red Cross president, Paul Hawke, Hastings Deputy Mayor Sandra Hazlehurst and other councilors were also in attendance.

Central school and St Mathew's School students accompanied the bagpipe prosession and four students from Iona College. Hastings Girls' High School, Hastings Boys' High School and Hastings Intermediate School spoke.