NZ Memories Excerpt 2005 – Images from The Regions – Hawke’s Bay

Pages 20 and 21

Napier in the 1860s

This ink and watercolour drawing of Tennyson Street by James Collins names the occupiers of the premises of the infant Napier settlement. Listed as: R. Colenso, Registered Deeds Office, Harris, Tippen [Tiffen], Herald Office, T. Anderson, Sealy, Rev. Marshall, Lands Office. The site of Hastings Street is shown in the foreground.

The peaceful settlement was not without its problems. Roading was one of the major issues facing the new Hawke’s Bay Province (Napier citizens, feeling neglected by Wellington, decided at a public meeting in 1858 to “secede” from the Wellington Provincial Council). Access to the settlement in the 1860s was difficult. The southern boundary was barred by dense forest such as the Seventy Mile Bush, the Heretaunga Plain offered swamps often flooded by rivers and the road to Taupo was not suitable for wheeled traffic until 1877. Even sea access to the site of Napier was hampered – the beach had a barrier of shingle across the front of the bay.

The 1868 photograph shows the Napier military barracks and cottages for soldiers’ wives. Buildings have been constructed of raupo.

Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, NZ F-4735-1/2

Page 22


The Hawke’s Bay Earthquake

3 February 1931

Joy Meredith writes, “My much older sister Captain Violet Delany was nursing at the Salvation Army Maternity Home at the time of the earthquake”.

Joy has supplied us with a transcript of her sister’s interview with a newspaper reporter after that disastrous day. It reads as follows:
“Captain Violet Delany of the Napier Maternity Home Staff tells of the earthquake. The first party of refugees from Napier to reach Wellington after the devastating earthquake which so severely damaged the town, consisted of Captain V. Delany, Lieutenant F. Durie and Miss S. Thompson of the Maternity Home staff, who brought nine small babies with them ranging from four to eighteen months old. “It was a terrible and terrifying experience”, said Captain Delany when interviewed on her arrival in Wellington.

“Without any warning whatever the ground started to shake and the building to rock. The crockery all came smashing down on to the floor and then the chimney fell with a crash. The babies were outside on the lawn and some of the debris fell right into their bassinets. It is a wonder that they were not all killed, but when we rushed to pick them up we found that not one was injured. We had four patients in the Home and they, too, all escaped injury as did everyone of the Officers.

The ground kept heaving and trembling and we feared that the whole building would collapse on us so we moved across to Mrs Hannah’s lawn. The town as far as we could see was a mass of ruins, all the stone and brick buildings being down and dust flying everywhere. There were most terrifying reports as the benzene in garages exploded. Then the fire broke out and numbers of houses that had survived the shock of the earthquake went up in smoke. It seemed to me as if the town was a mass of flames. We saw some awful sights, people lying dead under masses of bricks and timber, and many bleeding with very painful injuries.

About two o’clock in the morning a service bus came for us as it had been decided that the best thing for the babies was to take them to Wellington. So we rode all night, the bus driver having to proceed very carefully at certain places owing to cracks in the road. As we passed Hastings we saw that it had suffered severely also. We reach Palmerston North in the morning and Ensign Bridge was most kind to us, supplying us with much needed refreshments. After a two hours’ rest we came on to Wellington.

I must say a word about the bus driver. He was a marvel of endurance. That day he had driven from Wanganui to Wellington and then to Napier, returning with us – 600 miles – without taking any rest. And he was ready and willing to go right back. ”

Photo caption – Captain Violet Delany

Page 23

Nelson Park refugee camp during the few days after the earthquake which was the centre for Napier families before being evacuated to other centres around New Zealand

Photographer T.W. Collins courtesy of T. Smith

The Embankment Road, rendered unusable for traffic. The railway line in the background was bent and twisted making the line also unusable

Photographer T.W. Collins courtesy of T. Smith

Page 24



Staff await customers at Munro’s [Rush Munro’s] Ice Cream Parlour on Heretaunga Street in 1930. Lemon and orange squash is advertised at 6d (5 cents) a glass and the ice cream is promoted on the display board as “Munro’s Ice Cream for youthful beauty”

Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, NZ G04612 1/1 Henry Whitehead Collection

The public reception celebrates the Duke and Duchess of York’s arrival in Hastings on 4 March 1927.

They are seated for all to see outside the Hastings Railway Station. Delighted crowds throughout the country greeted the royal couple (later to be crowned King George VI and Queen Elizabeth) on their Tour of New Zealand.

Courtesy: Laura Mathers

Page 25

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Havelock North

Sydney Charles Smith photographed this view of Napier Road looking towards Middle Road in the 1920s. The Exchange Hotel and the Post and Telegraph Office (built 1914) can be seen on opposite corners of Havelock Road. I am constantly amazed at the clarity of many early photographs; we have enlarged a section of the image to show some of the detail. Two young girls pose for the photographs as others go about their business.

Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, NZ G-4612-1/2-PA-Coll-3082 SC Smith Collection

Page 26



The Lutheran Church of Norsewood is photographed in extremes of weather. The ca 1885 landscape was soon to change after the Norsewood bush fire of 20 March 1888 ravished the area. After the fire, the Waipawa Mail reported, “On the lee side of the junction lie the remains of another group of buildings, which included the Lutheran Church – a large and handsome structure”. The church was insured for £300.

The photographs are from the collection of the Hawke’s [Bay] Cultural Trust, Hawke’s Bay Museum, Napier

Page 27

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The wedding of Carl George Bjelke Petersen to Maren Paulsen in January 1904 at Norsewood. The union was to produce one of Dannevirke’s famous sons, Joh Bjelkie [Bjelke] Petersen, the renowned Premier of Queensland. Joh was born in Dannevirke on 13 January 1911 and the family moved to Australia when he was three.

‘Pancho Boy’, a three-year-old Skewbald stallion, lays down at Johnny Boyte’s command. Dannevirke’s Johnny always had a way with horses, teaching them a variety of tricks and acts. This photograph was taken at the Showgrounds in 1968.

Courtesy: J. Boyte

Original digital file


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Date published

April May 2005

Format of the original

Magazine articles

Creator / Author

  • T W Collins
  • Laura Mathers
  • Sydney Charles Smith
  • T Smith


New Zealand Memories


  • T Anderson
  • Carl George Bjelke Petersen
  • Joh Bjelke Petersen
  • Johnny Boyte
  • Ensign Bridge
  • R Colenso
  • Captain Violet Delany
  • Lieutenant F Durie
  • Mrs Hannah
  • Reverend Marshall
  • Joy Meredith
  • Maren Paulsen
  • Miss S Thompson

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