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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 10, Issue 4 (July 1, 1935.)

Some Memories Of A Survivor

Some Memories Of A Survivor.

(The writer of this article was for many years Government Surveyor and Ranger for the Crown Lands Department. He was one of the survivors of the memorable early morning of June 10,1886, when the eruption of Tarawera volcano and the upheaval of Rotomahana lake overwhelmed Te Wairoa, caused widespread terror and destruction and killed more than 150 people. Mr. Lundius here describes briefly his experiences in Te Wairoa village, and some incidents of the eruption)

We had come in from the Urewera Country road survey to rest awhile at Te Wairoa in the winter of 1886. The early morning of the 10th June was beautifully clear. It was full moon. In fact, there was an occultation of Mars by the Moon at 10.30 that night. There was no wind. My first sight of the outbreak was the finest and most remarkable I have ever seen. From Tarawera Mountain, with an awful noise and earth-rending, there rose a huge column of black smoke, straight up in the air, the summit of which took a mushroom shape, round the edges of which a chain of lightning was playing. I was told by persons who were at Galatea, and to windward of the mountain, that they saw flames and smoke being emitted, but we at Te Wairoa did not see any fire. I was staying with Mr. Haszard, the school teacher. In the house also were Mr. and Mrs. Haszard, four daughters, one son, one nephew, Mr. J. C. Blythe (the surveyor), and an old Maori woman called Mary te Mu. We were all gathered in a small building close to the main residence. It contained a large sitting-room and two bedrooms.

We did not know at first what was going on outside, except continuous earthshakes and a terrific noise. Then came a fall of some solid matter (scoria I afterwards found it was) on the roof. One extra large lump penetrated the iron on the roof and went through a picture hanging on the wall. It was then that Mr. Haszard thought it wisest for his wife and the young children to sit in the middle of the room right under the ridge. I was standing at the window all the time trying to see what was going on outside, but I could see nothing. The darkness was so great that one could feel it. Miss Haszard was sitting at the harmonium playing and singing hymns. I saw her get up and stoop to look at the bottom of the door, when a cracking noise was heard and I found that the roof had collapsed.