Thursday, 24 November 2016

From the archives… AfterWords by Helen McConnochie.

As I watched scenes from the recent Kaikoura earthquake and the difficulties residents and visitors are having with the basics of food, water and shelter, I wondered how the survivors of the 1931 Hawke’s Bay earthquake coped with these same difficulties on shaky ground.

Both earthquakes were the same magnitude, 7.8, although the death toll was significantly more in 1931.

In AfterWords, former Radio New Zealand producer Helen McConnochie, captures the very essence of what Hawke’s Bay was like from the moment the earthquake struck on February 3rd at 10.46am, to the weeks after when evacuated children started returning to their homes and schools.

Many of these memories are from when the survivors were young. They talk of the terror of the big quake, how they escaped and of those that did not. What stands out as you read these short vignettes is how well these families adapted to the aftermath of the earthquake. Those that weren’t evacuated talk of camping in their backyards with makeshift toilets (usually a chook house conversion) and using open fires for cooking. It seems in 1931 Hawke’s Bay, every mother was adept at making camp bread.

Those in the country coped even better than those in the city; sleeping under cherry trees for six weeks until the rain came, forcing them back into their damaged houses. They also had access to water and food unlike the majority of the city folk.

Though there were no helicopters to bring television crews in and survivors out of the earthquake areas of 1931, there are many similarities between the two earthquakes. Damaged homes, businesses and roads as well as difficulties with communication are common to both earthquakes. However what comes through from reading Afterwords and following news coverage of the Kaikoura earthquake is the stoicism of the survivors. Providing food and shelter for not only themselves but others in their community shows the real fortitude of these New Zealanders as they put to right what mother earth has destroyed.

AfterWords can be found at Hastings, Flaxmere and Havelock North Libraries.

Posted by The Rummaging Bibliophile

Catalogue Link: AfterWords

No comments:

Post a Comment