Letter, Joan Greaney

Greaney, Joan E

Object detail

Brief Description
A two-page letter written by Joan Greaney recalling her memories of the 1931 Hawke's Bay earthquake. Joan has headed the letter: Hawke's Bay Earthquake 3 February 1931.

Joan, aged eight and a half and her sister Colleen, aged seven, were returning to school at Saint Mary's Convent in Coronation Street, on 3 February, 1931. They were inside a classroom but managed to escape and eventually made their way out of the school grounds. Their father arrived from the Harbour Board Shed at the Iron Pot to take them home to Hardinge Road. Joan remembers seeing Sister Cecily holding an injured child, and on leaving the grounds heard a man telling them to be careful of the electric wires, which were still live.

Port Ahuriri was on fire and they could not walk along the main roads, so walked along the railway line. Joan remembers seeing a man covered from head to foot in blood, being brought out of the Niven's building. A neighbour asked her father to take his two children, as he was needed to fight the fire, but Joan's father refused.

Joan's mother and sister Rose, with her one-year-old baby, were found standing on an iron dray outside Barry Brother's coal yard. On arrival in Hardinge Road they were met by someone telling them to head up the hill, as a tidal wave was expected. Joan remembers sleeping on the footpath on the beach side of the road, for about 3 nights. She recalls that the fire at the end of Hardinge Road was terrifying, being near the petrol tanks, and that the glow from the fire could be seen for miles.

The family moved to Nelson Park camp and were then moved to the Palmerston North Showgrounds, where they lived in tents for 6 to 8 weeks. Joan also writes that their house was thrown off its blocks and the preserves in the scullery cupboard were thrown to the floor. Her father had to lift the linoleum as it was impossible to clean.
Production period
Production technique
Media/Materials description
Handwritten in blue ink on lined paper. A floral, printed name and address sticker.
Height x Width: 328 x 200mm
Joan E Greaney / 1/20 Harold Holt Ave / Napier NZ / Ph (06) 8436623, Sticker, Adhesive
Subject person
Subject period
Subject date
03 Feb 1931
Post 03 Feb 1931
Other number(s)


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