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The New Zealand Postcard Society is committed to growing the knowledge base of our early postcard photographers and publishers. To do this we need your help.
Please check your own postcard collections and if your are able to add to the content of the 'Hugh & G.K Neill' Murchison earthquake postcard list below then we would like to hear from you. You can do this very simply by using the 'Contribute' form provided at the end of the list. Fill in all the relevant details about your postcard/s and upload an image (if you choose to) by using the facility provided. Our preference is for 600 dpi .jpg images (file size of less than 5MB).
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The Murchison earthquake postcards of Hugh & G. K. Neill Ltd
- by Steve McLachlan
On 17 June 1929, at 10:17 a.m., a magnitude 7.8 earthquake struck the northern South Island. It was felt in cities and towns all over New Zealand, but it was half a day before authorities realised that the worst hit region was the top of the South Island. The first reports of serious damage came from Greymouth, Nelson and Westport. In Greymouth most chimneys were destroyed and gas, water and sewage pipes had broken. In Nelson, shop windows had broken and chimneys had collapsed. At Nelson College the tower had fallen and dormitory roofs had been smashed by falling stonework. Fortunately no-one was in the dormitories at the time. It was the worst since the 1855 Wellington earthquake, and the first to cause a large number of deaths (17). The earthquake centre was in the Lyell Range, just west of Murchison, and thus the earthquake became known as the 1929 Murchison earthquake.
The Dunedin photographic company of Hugh & G. K. Neill sprang into prominence with their 1925 appointment as official photographers of the New Zealand & South Seas International Exhibition held in Dunedin in 1925-26. They produced a large series of postcards for the exhibition from their premises at Camera Corner 93 George St, not far from the Octagon in central Dunedin. By 1929 the company had moved a few shops northwards to the Corner of George and St Andrews Streets.
For the 1929 Murchison Earthquake they produced another long series of postcards showing scenes from Greymouth, Westport and Nelson. None are known from Murchison itself or other inland areas, so it seems likely that Neill’s photographer only visited those areas accessible by boat.
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Compiled by Steven McLachlan