It might puzzle MTG visitors to stumble across a segment on the Mt Tarawera eruption in the museum's newest exhibition, The House of Webb: A Victorian family's journey to Ormondville.
The viewer may wonder why this event is part of an exhibition that focuses on Southern Hawke's Bay.
However, the connection between the eruption and the Webb family living in Ormondville does make sense.
Just after midnight on Thursday, June 10, 1886, Mt Tarawera near Rotorua, erupted. The people of Te Wairoa, a village close to the mountain, were woken by a sequence of earthquakes and massive explosions.
Fountains of molten rock and thick columns of smoke and ash rose over 10 kilometres high. For more than four terrifying hours, rocks, ash and mud bombarded the peaceful village. Mt Tarawera had split wide open.
Rocks, ash and mud did not besiege Ormondville, but the eruption still made its presence felt in the small township.
Tom Webb, the nephew of the Rev Anthony Webb, wrote to his brother Arthur, in England: "Early yesterday morning (10th) about 3.30 I was awakened by very heavy, loud and deep booming, which sounded very much like heavy guns being fired at sea. The first one woke me up & was the loudest … the boomings kept up at intervals of a few seconds."
Other parts of Hawke's Bay were similarly affected. The Daily Telegraph newspaper recorded that, in Woodville, people were startled from sleep by "a series of loud explosions, accompanied by rumbling noises: at each discharge there was a violent shaking of the earth".
Meanwhile in Waipukurau, a dance held in the town hall was still in progress when the gaiety was interrupted by a series of earthquakes, accompanied with "loud rumblings as of distant thunder" and "flames shooting up high into the air".
Terrified, the party broke up and the dancers quickly left for the safety of their homes. Along with earthquakes and explosions, "vibrant flashes of light in the northern sky" stunned the people of Napier.
Meanwhile, those living in Gisborne saw the magnificent sight of "volumes of fire shooting up in the air out of an umbrella-shaped cloud which spread over the whole sky".
By 4am, Gisborne was in utter darkness and a distinct smell of sulphur pervaded the air. Breathing in the air "had a peculiar effect on many of the inhabitants" and by morning the "birds were seen flying about in a helpless fashion".
That morning was a milestone in New Zealand's geographical history: The Pink and White Terraces, colonial New Zealand's premier tourist attraction and considered the eighth wonder of the world, were destroyed along with Te Wairoa.
On June 15, Tom Webb continued in his letter: "It is believed by people who have been within a mile of where the terraces are supposed to be that they have disappeared & a lake formed over them."
Today all that remains are memories shared by those who experienced the devastation - accounts like those of Webb, and paintings by eminent New Zealand artists, two of which are on show in this current exhibition.
• Free "'House of Webb" tour
Join exhibition curator Gail Pope on a tour of House of Webb: A Victorian Family's Journey to Ormondville'
11am, first Tuesday of each month, starting August 7.
• Free movie Blue
Blue is an eye-opening documentary about oceans under threat. Koha appreciated.
6pm, August 9
• CMNZ Presents: Ensemble Zefiro
This award-winning ensemble offers programmes including Handel, Fasch, Haydn and Mozart.
7.30pm, Thursday, August 16
• Kororāreka: The Ballad of Maggie Flynn
The Ballad of Maggie Flynn introduces a heroine created from the rich and vibrant true stories of New Zealand women.
12pm and 7.30pm, Friday, August 24
• Gail Pope is curator of social history at the Museum Theatre Gallery (MTG) Hawke's Bay.
• Visit www.mtghawkesbay.com for more information