M 7.2 Horoeka Mon, Mar 5 1934

The 1934 Horoeka (Pahiatua) earthquake shook the lower North Island on 5 March 1934 and was felt as far away as Auckland and Dunedin.



Queen Street, looking south, probably from the top of C.E. Daniell’s hardware shop. [Courtesy of Wairarapa Archive]

Queen Street, looking south, probably from the top of C.E. Daniell’s hardware shop. [Courtesy of Wairarapa Archive]

Queen Street, north of the Lincoln Road intersection, taken from the Post Office tower. [Courtesy of Wairarapa Archive]

Queen Street, north of the Lincoln Road intersection, taken from the Post Office tower. [Courtesy of Wairarapa Archive]

The Masterton Opera House in Lincoln Road. [Photo by Fred Daniell, a Masterton architect. Courtesy of Wairarapa Archive]

The Masterton Opera House in Lincoln Road. [Photo by Fred Daniell, a Masterton architect. Courtesy of Wairarapa Archive]

Workers remove debris from Main Street, Pahiatua. The two women in front of the building are Ivy Oates and Irene Oates. 12 March 1934. [Courtesy of Wairarapa Archive]

Workers remove debris from Main Street, Pahiatua. The two women in front of the building are Ivy Oates and Irene Oates. 12 March 1934. [Courtesy of Wairarapa Archive]

This earthquake has historically been referred to as the Pahiatua Earthquake, but recent reviews of its epicentre place it closer to the locality of Horoeka. It struck the lower North Island on March 5 1934 and was felt as far north as Auckland. The shaking was also felt in the mainland of the northern South Island, and along the east coast as far as Dunedin. Destructive intensities of MM 8 were experienced in an area that extended approximately 8700 km2 over most of the lower North Island, and reached a peak of MM 9 south-east of Pahiatua, between the small towns of Pongaroa and Bideford.

The earthquake was most severe in the Hawke's Bay and northern Wairarapa regions, and caused widespread damage from Porangahau to Castlepoint. Much of this area, particularly towards the east coast, was sparsely populated at the time, but the shaking caused extensive damage in the town of Pahiatua, where a number of poorly constructed buildings were severely damaged or collapsed entirely. Luckily, no one was killed in the earthquake, but one person sustained injuries that required hospitalisation.

The movement also triggered numerous small landslides in the cliffs along the coast from Cape Turnagain to Castlepoint, and deformed the ground surface in a number of localities.