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Earthquake survivors mark 88th anniversary

Earthquake Survivors Afternoon Tea 2019 Earthquake afternoon tea 0067 small

Survivors of the 1931 Hawke’s Bay earthquake today shared memories over a cup of tea and scones at a community event hosted at Napier Boys’ High School.

Held once a year, the earthquake survivors afternoon tea drew a 100-strong crowd and hosted earthquake engineering risk specialist Andrew King as guest speaker.

The youngest survivor Raymon Barrett (around one month old at the time of the quake) and oldest survivor Alf Bell (13 years old at the time) joined Napier Mayor Bill Dalton and Mr King in ceremoniously cutting the cake.

Napier City Councillor Kirsten Wise, the organising group’s acting chair, said the event was a special occasion for people who survived the life-changing 7.8-magnitude quake, and a chance to reflect on the hard-learnt lessons of one of New Zealand’s worst natural disasters.

“The afternoon tea is our way of paying tribute to a very special group of people, where they can meet up with old friends and share memories of the day that shaped the lives of so many,” Ms Wise said.

“But it’s also a time to reflect on the lessons of that fateful day, and the importance of knowing what to do in any future events.

“We know that preparation and planning not only increases our chance of getting through the emergency, it also helps reduce the amount of time getting our lives back to normal afterwards

“We all have a role to play in creating a resilient community, so I urge everyone to make sure they understand the risks they face and have an up-to-date emergency plan in place.”

While Mrs Barrett was too young to remember the quake, the events of that day profoundly shaped her life.

“The reason I come to this event is because my father died of his injuries from the earthquake.

"He was a qualified chemist, married with a son and daughter,” Mrs Barret said.

“My life would have been totally different had he lived.

“I have missed having a father, but you adjust.”

The survivors afternoon tea is jointly organised by Napier City Council, Hawke’s Bay Regional Council, Hawke’s Bay Civil Defence Emergency Management Group, Art Deco Trust, New Zealand Red Cross and Napier Boys’ High School.

They appreciate the generous support from local businesses and organisations that sponsor the event.

3 February 2019

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