A history of helping in Hawke's Bay

From the Napier earthquake to Havelock North

Today, many Kiwis will be hitting the road and looking forward to the long weekend. It's a far cry from 86 years ago, when the country was responding to New Zealand’s deadliest earthquake.

It was just before 11am on 3 February, 1931, when a magnitude 7.8 earthquake hit Hawke's Bay. Buildings crumbled, roofs caved in and fires spread rapidly through the rubble. At least 256 people died in the quake, making the Hawke’s Bay earthquake the deadliest in New Zealand history.

The Red Cross depot in Hastings.

Red Cross responds

Red Cross quickly joined the response effort, setting up an emergency centre at the Central School in Hastings.

Fifty six Red Cross volunteers worked at the Hastings centre, cooking hot meals and distributing clothing and other essentials. In the first 72 hours, the soup and tea kitchen had provided more than 9,000 meals to quake survivors.

Red Cross volunteers also helped with evacuations in the days following the earthquake. Thorndon Station in Wellington was turned into a Red Cross depot where nurses cared for injured evacuees.

Red Cross nurses tend to evacuees at Thorndon Station.

Still helping in Hawke's Bay

Eight decades after the earthquake, Red Cross continues to support communities in the region, providing an everyday helping hand and responding to emergencies.

In 2016, Red Cross launched another large-scale response in Hawke’s Bay.

More than 3,000 people in Havelock North were struck down with a gastroenteritis bug in August, after the town water supply was contaminated. With many people in the area sick and in need of support, Red Cross was there to help.

Red Cross and Civil Defence volunteers prepare to go door-to-door in Havelock North.

Red Cross volunteers visited 910 households in the region and called 790 people in the community who were most at risk to check they were OK.

An information hub was set up in the township. Red Cross teams distributed essential supplies, including infant nappies, toilet paper and bottled water. Twenty-two early childhood centres also received bottled water, hand sanitiser and soap.

Red Cross' information hub in the centre of Havelock North.

Here for good

Red Cross staff, members and volunteers continue to do good work in the Hawke's Bay region, from delivering Meals on Wheels to providing a safe ride to hospital.

Find out more about Red Cross’ work in your community and how you can get involved and help Red Cross be here for good.