Wanganui Earthquakes, General Info

The recent 7.1 Christchurch earthquake has rattled many of us and leaves a lot of friends and loved ones in Christchurch still shaken.

So this post attempts to somehow spread information about earthquakes in Wanganui in the past and what we can do in case there'd be an earthquake in our area.

Significant earthquakes for Wanganui

Date Magnitude Epicentre Effect in Wanganui
1843 7.5 Wanganui Extensive lateral spreading of the terrace margin to the Whanganui River. Putiki church demolished.
1848 7.1 Marlborough Minor lateral spreading in the riverbed. Some wharf damage. The western bank of the Whanganui River (Taupo Quay) rose by one metre.
1855 8.2 Wairarapa Extensive lateral spreading and fissuring of lower terrace along the Whanganui River, especially Taupo Quay. Extensive wharf damage. Most chimneys destroyed. Much broken crockery inside houses. Putiki's new brick church destroyed. The shock cracked the iron pan under the swamps of Gonville, allowing the water to drain completely away.
1868 7 - 7.5 Cape Turnagain On October 19 there was a large shallow earthquake, magnitude 7.0-7.5, off Cape Turnagain; changes in river levels were reported at Wanganui and Waitara. These were possibly caused by a tsunami, but may have been the result of seiching (earthquake-generated waves).
1897 ? Waverley area Loss of water supply. Subsidence/lateral spreading. Damage to wharves. Loss of chimneys in some areas. Minor ground cracking in Glasgow Street.
1934 7.6 Pahiatua Extensive chimney damage in some areas. Two slips and fissuring of the riverbank at Aramoho. Break in water pipes at the foot of St John's Hill. Rutland Hotel damaged.
1991 6.5 Off Bulls coast 1000 chimneys damaged. 2140 claims to the Earthquake Commission.

What to tell children about earthquakes

  • Find safe places in every room of your home and classroom. Look for safe places inside and outside of other buildings where you spend time. The shorter the distance you have to travel when the ground shakes, the safer you will be.
  • If you are indoors during an earthquake, drop, cover and hold on. Get under a desk, table or chair. Hold onto the legs and cover your eyes (broken glass). If there's no table or desk nearby, sit down against an interior wall. An interior wall is less likely to collapse. Pick a safe place where things will not fall on you, away from windows, bookcases or tall, heavy furniture. It is dangerous to run outside when an earthquake happens. Bricks, roofing and other material may fall during and immediately after earthquakes, injuring people near the building.
  • Wait in your safe place until the shaking stops, then check to see if you are hurt. You will be better able to help others if you take care of yourself first, then check the people around you. Move carefully and watch out for things that have fallen or broken, creating hazards. Be ready for additional earthquakes called 'aftershocks'.
  • If you must leave a building after the shaking stops, use the stairs, not the lift. Earthquakes can cause fire alarms and fire sprinklers to go off. You will not be certain whether or not there is a real fire. As a precaution, use the stairs.
  • If you are outside during an earthquake, stay outside. Move away from buildings, trees, streetlights and power poles. Kneel down and cover your head. Many injuries occur within three metres of the entrance to buildings. Bricks, roofing etc can fall from the building. Trees, streetlights and power lines may also fall, causing injury or damage.
Taken from 'Talking about Disasters' A Guide for Standard Messages.
Produced by the National Disaster Coalition, Washington, D.C. 1999

More info:

Wanganui Online NZ Property Guide Wanganui City

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