Napier's 1931 Earthquake
On the 3rd of February 1931 an earthquake measuring 7.8 on the Richter scale struck. Tragically, over 250 people lost their lives in the quake. A good deal of central Napier and Hastings was destroyed.
The Acting Chairman of the BNZ board, Mr Richard Gibbs left Wellington at 6.30am the following morning to visit Hawkes Bay himself. As he travelled, bank staff sent telegrams to towns along the way, seeking his approval for donations and confirming his whereabouts.
A contribution of £2,500 was made to the 'Premier's appeal', the earthquake relief fund. Today, this would be the equivalent of close to $318,000.
BNZ’s Napier building burnt down in the fire that started after the quake and the Hastings building, although still standing, was so badly damaged it had to be re-built. The Napier branch closed for two weeks after the quake until being relocated to a temporary building in Clive Square called the Community Bank Building. Six trading banks worked here under one roof over a two-year period until their own premises were viable.
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