Story: Historic earthquakes

First record of a Wellington earthquake

First record of a Wellington earthquake

Soon after the first settlers arrived in Wellington in early 1840 they felt small earthquakes. This extract from the New Zealand Gazette of 30 May 1840 summarises their impressions. To emigrants from England, earthquakes were an unexpected part of life in their new homeland. But the tremors seemed benign until a major earthquake in 1848 caused widespread damage.

SATURDAY, MAY 30, 1840.

The excitement of the fire had hardly ceased, when the Colonists were aroused by an undulatory motion of the earth, and a somewhat severe shaking of their houses. Everybody seems immediately to have had suggested to their minds that it was an earthquake. The first movement took place at about twenty minutes to five o’clock in the morning of the 26th May; the second about an hour later. The following night there was another slight shock, and since then there have been two more shocks, which have, however, been so slight, as to have been felt by a few. The first shock was by far the severest and longest in duration; – it was not, however, the cause of any mischief, though it alarmed some of the inhabitants. It appears to have been nearly equally felt all around Port Nicholson.

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National Library of New Zealand, Papers Past
Reference: New Zealand Gazette, 30 May 1840, p. 2

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How to cite this page:

Eileen McSaveney, 'Historic earthquakes - The 1848 Marlborough earthquake', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/document/4379/first-record-of-a-wellington-earthquake (accessed 19 October 2019)

Story by Eileen McSaveney, published 12 Jun 2006, reviewed & revised 28 Mar 2011, updated 1 Nov 2017