Peter Price was only 2 when the 7.8 magnitude, 1931 Hawke's Bay earthquake struck on February 3, taking 256 lives and leaving thousands injured.
On Monday, the community will gather at the clock tower in Hastings city mall. At 10.47am the clock tower bells will ring to mark the exact moment earthquake struck 89 years ago.
He is now 91 and even though he was only 2, his memory of the day itself is vivid.
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Peter, from Hastings, recalls his mother putting him in a pushchair and taking him to Parkvale School to collect his brothers and sisters.
"I was only 2 and my mother was in her 40s when the quake happened," Peter said.
"I remember all the children at the school were crying. My older sister was 12 and she had her arms tightly wound around the headmaster's neck and she was petrified.
"My mother had to prise her off."
There was a swimming pool at the school and Peter's siblings told him what happened to the pool, following the quake.
"The water sloshed out of the pool like a tidal wave," he said.
He said his mother took it upon himself to care and cook for those who had their homes destroyed in the quake.
"Mother was cooking for 18 other people because their stoves were broken. At the time Mother had eight children and the oldest, my brother, was 14," Peter said.
"She was also heavily pregnant with her ninth child. She went into hospital in June to have the baby but there was no room so she had the baby at home."
As he grew older he understood the gravity of the earthquake better.
"In our house almost every piece of crockery in the house was broken, but the house itself was not damaged," he said.
"My mother and father told us about people who were sleeping outside in tents because their houses were destroyed.
"I remember my father, who was a commercial traveller, talk about the people who had lost their lives in the quake, but we didn't lose any friends."
His older sister, 12, at the time and the only girl amongst the eight children, also pitched in to help out.
"My older sister helped our mother after the quake. She was like a second mother to us."
The earthquake reshaped Hastings and Napier.
The air on the day has been described as "still and oppressive" and the sea as "calm and still" and a "most peculiar colour".
"Energies roughly equal to the detonation of 100 million tonnes of TNT was channelled down a moving slab of landscape, a 'rupture zone', which ran directly below Napier and southwest across the Heretaunga plains," states the Napier City Council website.
"The noise was compared to that of 'an express train. Two and a half minutes after the first shock it was over."
Thousands of people required medical following the quake, which brought down buildings, sparked fires, and ruptured roads.
Directly after the earthquake most homes lacked water, electricity, sewerage and chimneys, and people camped in open areas as continuous tremors made it dangerous to stay inside.
Resilience came to the forefront following the disaster that claimed the 1910 Hastings town clock on the post office building.
Undeterred, the people of Hastings built a taller, stronger clock tower in 1935 and placed it in the middle of the town.
They rescued the chimes used in the 1910 clock and placed them in the new clock tower.
The old would be remembered by all in town as the chimes rang out on the hour, but the new Hastings would be celebrated with the Art Deco style clock.
In 1995, Hastings District Council installed copper plaques on the Hastings clock tower engraved with the names of those who lost their lives in the Hastings district, 93 people were identified. It also includes a number who were unable to be identified.
Hastings mayor Sandra Hazlehurst said Monday's quake commemoration service was a chance to come together to remember those people and their families impacted.
"It's also a reminder of the importance of preparation for disasters."