Hawkes Bay Earthquake
The Hawke’s Bay earthquake of 3 February 1931 remains New Zealand’s worst natural disaster, with a magnitude of 7.8 on the Richter Scale. Lasting some 2.5 minutes, with a 30 second lull in the middle, 256 persons (161 in Napier) died, and the city was largely destroyed.
Most fires broke out in chemists’ shops where gas jets were in close proximity to flammable liquids. One hour after the earthquake, the fires were spreading rapidly. Fires also broke at Ahuriri. In Napier, the water supply was lost and there was little that firemen could do.
In nearby Hastings, the water supply remained intact so the fires were contained.
Mon Logis & the earthquake
Mon Logis, stoutly constructed of wood, suffered minor damage and survived the devastating fires that followed the quake. Architects planned a new city with a new look incorporating Stripped Classical, Spanish Mission and, most notably, Art Deco styles.
Rows of palms and the Norfolk Island pines – seen immediately outside Mon Logis – were planted. Fifty years passed before it was widely appreciated that the Art Deco style of the early 1930s survived in Napier and Gisborne as nowhere else.