Topic: Memories Of The Bay Of Plenty Earthquake 1987 - James E Boyde

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Memories from the Bay of Plenty Earthquake 2 March 1987 written by James E Boyde (26.02.07) for the 20th Anniversary Earthquake Memories Project (Sir James Fletcher Kawerau Museum).

Earthquake Memories - James E Boyde - Kawerau


Edgecumbe Earthquake, 2 March 1987.

1.34 pm. foreshock.                       5 on Richter scale

1.41 pm. Main shock                     6.25.

1.51 pm. biggest aftershock        5.5.

My story.  (I do have my notes from the shake, taken at that time)

I had finished a midnight shift in the Electrical control room and finished at 9.30am.  Then home for a sleep, getting up at about midday.

My next days are to be days off and I was going up the Whakatane river as an assistant with a High School group for their run down the river.

The weather was warm and I have no memory of any breeze.  Very quiet.

I had a light lunch then into the town needing a couple of minor items.

At the 1.34pm shock I was walking between the post office and the library.  I did not realize it was a shake but did think that my walking didn't seem right.

I was in the shop with the videos when the Main, 1.41pm, 6.23 shock.  I had felt that.  The light went out and I knelt on the floor and against the wall to fend off anything that may come my way.  There were very few people there.  One thing I do remember was the booming from the glass windows around the shops, yet none seemed broken.

I do not know how long the shake was, but when it stopped I asked if any one was hurt.  No one seems to have been hurt so I walked out to go back to my car.  Walking up to the library, I saw four women, a group, not far from the library.  I walked up to them, they seemed to be frozen, not saying anything, not moving.  I asked if they were OK, they were standing.

They responded, seemed ok and started to respond so I moved on.  Where the video shop is now was a women's clothing shop.  One was standing in the doorway, I asked if they were OK ,getting a positive response.  The shop looked like a mess, as did all others I saw.

To my car, which was parked outside the hotel.  As I approached my car I saw a number of people coming out of the hotel, one was carrying his glass, about half full, or empty depending on one's view.  What made it interesting was that the male had both hands on the glass.

Pulled out from the parking area and down to the Onslow Street corner.  Coming down this bit I saw a lot of dust coming from the other side of the river, around the area of the forest road.

Down to my place at Vogel Street, just from the corner of Onslow Street.  Parked the car, then into the house, the place was a mess and I couldn not find my wife.  She had gone to our neighbors to see if she could help them.  They were an elderly couple.

I could see the house moving, and hearing it.  I put my hand on one of the posts on the fence, I could feel the post moving.  I could also see the ground and grass moving.

Our two oldest arrived, eventually, from the college and we were pleased to see them.  The South School was the assembly area for our area and we took our neighbors down there.  It was there that we caught up with our last daughter, she had been at the Intermediate School.

The children at the South School had been lined up and were sitting there in the class groups.  Some had said they wanted to go to the toilet.  I saw the headmaster and suggested that as there were some uncomfortable in the toilets , I would be happy to go home, get a shovel, and dig a trench in the trees alongside the school.  He didn't like that idea.

The neighbor's family picked them up.  We came back to our own home.  There we went up some shelter and , having small gas we set up and put on the Billy.  Bought another neighbor over and we sat down and had a cup of tea, well we had the gear to do it.  My pack for the river trip was leaded so we had all we needed for a drink. 

We put up our big tent and it was there that we spent the next two or three days.  I also dug a pit for a toilet, with cover for us, not knowing whether the sewer was working.  It rained that night and was woken during the night when a cat came into the tent and put its wet skin against my face.  Would feel the ground shake time to time.  Was awoken at one stage, turned on the torch and saw a frog sitting on  the ground in the tent.  I cannot remember seeing a frog in Kawerau.


Our daughter at the Intermediate said that they were walked up a hill initially after being taken from the buildings.  They appreciated that this was not a good place and put them on the flat again.

Oldest said that they had to get under there desks, great but not so good when your desk was walked away, or you have several heading your way.

The power may have been off, but we received a call from relatives from Australia in the evening.  One of these calls happened during one of the heavy shakes.

Visited the council in the morning about the sewer and where the emergency base was.  It was supposed to be at the council.  They didn;t know about the state of the sewer but told me to go to the fire station.

I went around the river with my camera and up to the Forest HQ.  More photos.  Messed the lot, I didn't load the camera correctily, after using the one all those years.

With another knocked down the top the chimney and dropped it on the lawn.  Noted that the people touring around was looking at all these things.

I went out as a volunteer with a number of others, as pairs, visiting houses as part helping.  I noted that there were a number of elder people who had not moved since the shake.  We passed this on to the CD group.






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Memories Of The Bay Of Plenty Earthquake 1987 - James E Boyde

First Names:James E
Last Name:Boyde