Letter, Edith Shakespeare
Edith was inside at her school on the day of the earthquake. It was her last year of primary school. She had been elected head prefect and was writing down all the names of the girls in her class. She and other pupils ran out and stood on the road watching the cliffs fall down onto the road and houses underneath. She says that after that came the big one. She remembers feeling as if she was on a swing. Buildings collapsed and children were thrown to the ground. Her elder sister who looked after her father and the family came running down the road to find her.
Their father worked at the Port but it was too dangerous to go and find him. They could now see the wreck of the Montmorency in Hardinge Road, Ahuriri. The ocean began to roar and someone shouted that there was a tidal wave. They ran for the hill only to realise that it was the sea heaving up and down. They were too frightened to go home so just went to the places where they thought they could find the rest of the family. They eventually found their father who had a broken leg. He was taken to the Napier Racecourse in Taradale where there was an emergency hospital.
Edith writes that she will always remember the night of the earthquake. They slept with friends in a marquee in a coal yard where there was a spare patch of grass and open space. She could see the flames from the buildings at Port Ahuriri. After three days, Edith, her sister and brother were sent to Palmerston North where they stayed at the Showgrounds. Edith and her sister stayed for three months with a couple and their two children. They eventually returned after their father's leg had healed, to a new gas stove in the kitchen instead of a coal range. Edith's account was written in July 1975. This printing of her memories includes photographs of Napier.