M 6.9 Wairarapa I Wed, Jun 24 1942

This earthquake severely rocked the lower North Island on June 24 1942, causing extensive damage to local buildings.



A soldier stands guard outside the heavily damaged chemist's shop operated by J.V. Gordon, on the corner of Queen and Bannister Streets. [Courtesy of Wairarapa Archive]

A soldier stands guard outside the heavily damaged chemist's shop operated by J.V. Gordon, on the corner of Queen and Bannister Streets. [Courtesy of Wairarapa Archive]

Shop fronts in Masterton, damaged by the earthquake. 25 June 1942 [Ref #: 1/2-123912-G Part of: Evening Post: Photographic negatives and prints of the Evening Post newspaper (PAColl-0614) Part of: Negatives of the Evening Post newspaper (PAColl-0614-1)]

Shop fronts in Masterton, damaged by the earthquake. 25 June 1942 [Ref #: 1/2-123912-G Part of: Evening Post: Photographic negatives and prints of the Evening Post newspaper (PAColl-0614) Part of: Negatives of the Evening Post newspaper (PAColl-0614-1)]

Masterton shop front, damaged by 1942 earthquake. 25 Jun 1942. [Ref #: 1/2-123914-G Part of: Evening Post: Photographic negatives and prints of the Evening Post newspaper (PAColl-0614) and Negatives of the Evening Post newspaper (PAColl-0614-1)]

Masterton shop front, damaged by 1942 earthquake. 25 Jun 1942. [Ref #: 1/2-123914-G Part of: Evening Post: Photographic negatives and prints of the Evening Post newspaper (PAColl-0614) and Negatives of the Evening Post newspaper (PAColl-0614-1)]

St. Matthew's Church, Masterton, after the earthquake. [Ref #: PAColl-6301-65 Part of: Evening Post: Photographic negatives and prints of the Evening Post newspaper (PAColl0614) Part of: Evening Post photos from file print collection, Box 3 (PAC6301)]

St. Matthew's Church, Masterton, after the earthquake. [Ref #: PAColl-6301-65 Part of: Evening Post: Photographic negatives and prints of the Evening Post newspaper (PAColl0614) Part of: Evening Post photos from file print collection, Box 3 (PAC6301)]

Damage to the Waiohine bridge after the 1942 Masterton earthquake. 25 June 1942 [Ref #: 1/2-123915-G Part of: Photographic negatives and prints of the Evening Post newspaper (PAColl-0614) and Negatives of the Evening Post newspaper (PAColl-0614-1)]

Damage to the Waiohine bridge after the 1942 Masterton earthquake. 25 June 1942 [Ref #: 1/2-123915-G Part of: Photographic negatives and prints of the Evening Post newspaper (PAColl-0614) and Negatives of the Evening Post newspaper (PAColl-0614-1)]

On 24 June 1942, three hours after a sizable foreshock, a severe earthquake struck the lower North Island of New Zealand. The quake was centred near Masterton but was felt as far away as Auckland, Queenstown, and Dunedin. Near the epicentre, in Masterton and in other Wairarapa towns, the power of the shock caused extensive damage to old and poorly constructed buildings. Fortunately, casualties of the earthquake were low; one man was killed in the earthquake, and only two people suffered injuries that required medical attention. Others were hurt by falling debris. The earthquake also severely shattered the ground surface east of Masterton, along a narrow strip extending ~65 km to the south, suggesting that in parts of the Wairarapa District, the intensity of the shaking surpassed MM 8.

Further south of the epicentre, in Wellington and the surrounding regions, the earthquake was also destructive. Intensities varied between MM 6 and MM 7, depending on the underlying ground structure; nonetheless damage was still widespread. In Wellington alone 20,000 chimneys were broken in the quake. Due to the extent of this damage, the City Council subsequently organised the repair work under the Emergency Precautions Scheme, surveying the city’s structures and noting the weak and dangerous areas that needed rebuilding.