Story: Historic earthquakes

Reporting the 1848 quake

Reporting the 1848 quake

This account of the earthquakes of 16 October 1848 appeared in the Wellington Independent. Written two days later, it describes the main earthquake and a big aftershock the following day.

WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 18, 1848.

It is our painful duty to record a serious and afflicting visitation. Since our last the whole district of Port Nicholson, (and in all probability, the entire Colony if not the other Islands of the Pacific,) so far as we have received intelligence from, has been moved hither and thither, by a terrible, though grandly magnificent, agency of Nature. On Friday last, the day was remarkably fine, though rather close and sultry, but towards night the weather changed, and early on Saturday morning the wind came up from the Southward and Eastward, blowing half a gale of wind, accompanied by heavy rain. No change was perceptible during Saturday and Sunday, but few anticipated the approach of so fearful a storm (if we may be so allowed to term it,) of earthquake. About half past one o’clock A.M. of Monday, a distant hollow sound was heard, the sound travelling at a most rapid rate, and almost instantaneously, in the course of a few seconds of time, the whole town was labouring from the most severe shock of an earthquake ever experienced by the white residents, or remembered by the Maories. The scene can never be effaced from our memory. The crashing of houses, the fall of bricks, the hurrying to and fro of women and children, and the incessant wave-like motion of the earth, producing a chill at the heart and dreadful feeling of sickness, was more than sufficient to appal the stoutest mind in the place.

The shocks continued, at intervals, until half-past seven o’clock, A.M.. When daylight broke the place presented a melancholy appearance. Most of the large brick stores and dwellings, together with many of the solid clay buildings, had received a severe shaking, and chimneys were levelled to the roof in about two-fifths of the houses in town. The Wesleyan Chapel, the Gaol, and other public buildings were seriously damaged, and the smash of Glass-ware, and other property was very great.

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Te Ara – The Encyclopedia of New Zealand
Reference: Wellington Independent, 18 October 1848

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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/4388/reporting-the-1848-quake (accessed 1 October 2020)

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