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Hero image for Earthquake!


Television (Full Length) – 2006

The Hawke's Bay earthquake still ranks as New Zealand’s worst civil disaster. More than 250 people died following the 7.8 magnitude quake on 3 February 1931. Director Gaylene Preston (miniseries Hope and Wire) gathered eyewitness accounts from survivors, including kuia Hana Lyola Cotter, who has never forgotten joining the rescue effort as a teen. The documentary also includes eye-opening newsreel footage of the damage. Earthquake! was nominated for Best Popular Documentary at the 2006 Qantas TV Awards; the sound team took away gongs at that year's NZ Screen Awards. 

When mother nature is angry, one of out of every four persons is injured, and more than 18,000 homeless will have lost everything they had in the world.
– Narrator on newsreel, made soon after the Napier quake

Key Cast & Crew

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Whena Owen

Line Producer, Archive Research

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Raewyn Humphries


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Michael Hedges

Sound Mix

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Melanie Graham

Sound Editor

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Polly McKinnon

Sound Editor

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Gaylene Preston

Director, Producer

See all 21 credits


Produced in association with Hawke's Bay Museum (now MTG Hawke's Bay)

Made with funding from NZ On Air

Presented with thanks to the NZ Film Heritage Trust – Te Puna Ataata


'Button Up Your Overcoat' performed by Jack Hylton and his Orchestra