The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 5, Issue 8 (February 1, 1931)
The Earthquake — Message from the Hon. W. A. Veitch, Minister of Railways
Message from the Hon. W. A. Veitch, Minister of Railways
Hawke's Bay, and particularly Napier and Hastings, came into conspicuous prominence on Tuesday, 3rd February, 1931, when an earthquake of unusual severity suddenly caused serious loss of life and destruction.
With remarkable promptitude advice was received that the railway track was so badly damaged as to render it unsafe for passenger trains. The vigilance of the Maintenance staff in this connection was characteristic of its alertness in maintaining an absolute standard of safety. As the result of untiring efforts on the part of the engineers and staff it was possible to restore the running of trains to and from Napier approximately 48 hours after the upheaval and this achievement rendered a great service to the stricken area, as it was then possible to hasten the evacuation of refugees and injured.
The running of trains so soon after the calamity was a great factor in restoring confidence in the district.
To all concerned in this excellent work my sincere appreciation is extended.
Minister of Railways.
General Manager's Message
Outstanding among our recent experiences has been the earthquake in Hawke's Bay and I feel that I must take the earliest possible opportunity of expressing my very great satisfaction with the work that was done by our staff in connection with that disastrous occurrence. Immediately the serious nature of the earthquake became known to us, steps were taken to organise transport for the necessary means of relief into the district. Special trains which were necessary for this purpose were arranged and sent forward with a promptitude that stands to the credit of everybody concerned. The damage which had been done to the line in the afflicted area was serious, but the Chief Engineer and his officers were on the job and actively engaged on rehabilitating the lines with a degree of promptitude and thoroughness that enabled rail communication to be re-established right through to Napier in a space of time that was nothing less than remarkable. My personal observation of the position in Hastings and Napier showed that the effect of the re-establishment of rail communication was very great, not only page 7 as affording adequate means of transport for relief into the district and for refugees leaving the district, but also as giving the people in the area a feeling of confidence in the restoration of their connection with the outside world which at that juncture was very desirable.
When all ranks did so much to help in the good work that was done one does not wish to draw any distinctions, but I feel that every employee in the Department will join with me in special congratulations to our Maintenance staff on their achievement in re-establishing communication with such promptitude. More especially is it pleasing to note that although much of the work done had to be very temporary and of an emergent character, absolute safety was maintained with the running of the trains and not a single accident or hitch of any kind occurred in working the very heavy traffic that the situation gave rise to.
I have had many expressions of gratitude to the Department from those concerned with the relief work in the afflicted area and also from many members of the public generally, and I desire through this message to make general acknowledgement of the kindly references which I have heard in this connection. While, of course, it is practically a tradition among railway workers to spare no effort to meet emergent circumstances, I feel sure that our staff will be glad to know that their efforts have been appreciated by the people in the earthquake area where their value was best known.
The First Relief Train to Leave Napier.
(Rly. Publicity Photo).
The maintenance men of the New Zealand Railways have rarely had a more difficult task to accomplish than that of restoring railway communication with Napier and Hastings after the recent disastrous earthquake. The rapidity with which the work was carried out won the admiration of the whole Dominion, and reflects the greatest credit on our organisation. The above illustration shows “cot” cases being placed aboard the first relief train to leave Napier.
Popular Railways Annual Picnic.
The Railway Head Office Annual Staff Picnic was held at Maidstone Park, Upper Hutt, Wellington, on Saturday, 31st January. The picnic arrangements were in the hands of an energetic committee, with Mr. M. Dennehy, Assistant General Manager of Railways, as Chairman of the General Picnic Committee; Mr. G. H. Mackley, Deputy-Chairman; Mr. W. H. Simmons, Hon. General Secretary; and Mr. J. Gauntlett, Chairman of the Children's Committee. The various committees arranged an excellent programme of sports events (special attention being devoted to the provision or amusements, and refreshments for the children), and it was due largely to their well thought out arrangements that the day's outing proved so enjoyable for all present. The above illustrations shew: (1) A section of the picnic party; (2) the Hon. W. A. Veitch, Minister of Railways (centre), Mr. H. H. Sterling, General Manager of Railways (left), and Mr. M. Dennehy, Assistant General Manager (right); (3) Mr. H. H. Sterling, speaking at the presentation of prizes (4) presentation of prizes by the Hon. W. A. Veitch; (5) the tug-of-war contest: (6) one of the children's races; (7) a humorous study in skinninng