Hundreds of previously unseen images of the 1931 Hawke's Bay Earthquake have come to light as part of a treasure trove of photos found in a professional photographer's box in a house in Hastings.

The 200-plus pictures, delivered to local charitable trust Knowledge Bank, were taken by the late Dael Therkleson, who worked for Lovell-Smith Photographers, Hastings, before taking over the business.

A day to remember: The notes with the glass plate negative describe this as the official opening of Te Mata Peak Road, Havelock North.
A day to remember: The notes with the glass plate negative describe this as the official opening of Te Mata Peak Road, Havelock North.

The photos were in Therkleson's brother's home when he died. The images were donated by Tony Wilson, whose son had been given them by Therkleson's nephew.

While very few of the photos are dated, there is one marked 1910, and the events, clothes and cars would indicate the collection goes up to the 1950s or '60s.

Advertisement

Therkleson, who also worked for Aerial Mapping for a time, had a penchant for cars, farm machinery, bridges, local businesses and significant events.

The aftermath of the 1931 Napier earthquake. Photo / Supplied
The aftermath of the 1931 Napier earthquake. Photo / Supplied

Knowledge Bank trustee Peter Dunkerley said the collection was a perfect fit for it.

"The stories these photos tell are very important now and will become even more so into the future as our grandchildren and great grandchildren investigate our history."

Knowledge Bank's volunteers are in the process of scanning the photos, which will then be uploaded to allow public access.

As with all the collections, the originals will be returned to the family or destroyed according to the owners' direction.

The Lovell-Smith photography premises in Hastings.
The Lovell-Smith photography premises in Hastings.

Knowledge Bank, a charitable trust, was set up in Hastings seven years ago, to ensure details of daily life, captured through diaries, photos and memories, were not lost.

Its new website was launched in February.

Visitors to the website, launched by Hawke's Bay Digital Archives Trust on February 15, can get their hands on one of the oldest records of newspaper clippings dated April 1872 as well as 18,000 other records procured and digitised.

Advertisement

Dunkerley said the new website was about preserving a slice of history which would otherwise be lost.

The impact of the 1931 Napier earthquake made it the worst civil disaster in NZ. Photo / Supplied.
The impact of the 1931 Napier earthquake made it the worst civil disaster in NZ. Photo / Supplied.

"While our old website was adequate, it was very much of its time and in desperate need of a fresher, cleaner look and upgraded functionality.

"It [the new website] is about preserving the pieces of history that make up the culture and landscape of the Bay we have today.

"These records would probably not feature in a traditional museum but they are very important - the photos people took at all sorts of events, from family shots at Marineland and the A&P Show to those taken by locals during major disasters such as the 1931 earthquake."


THE TE MATA PEAK OPENING PHOTO

Dael Therkleson's collection includes a photograph thought to be the day the road to Te Mata Peak opened.

The shot shows a large convoy of cars parked up on the road, which opened in the mid-1930s.

In 1927, as a memorial to their father John Chambers, sons Bernard, John and Mason gifted a 242 acre (99ha) reserve on the upper Havelock North hills, including Te Mata Peak, to the people of Hawke's Bay in perpetuity.

The road to the peak and surrounding area has since become a major Hawke's Bay attraction.

There are at least one million visits in car to Te Mata Park per year, not counting tour buses or people who walk and ride to the park.