by Shirley Bone.
This group of private Real Photo postcards shows the effects of the sea erosion on those buildings that back onto the sea in Revell St, Hokitika, in November 1914. The photos were taken by Ben Thiem, a Hokitika photographer who ran “The Thiem Studio.”
The story is told through the messages on the back, from Marie to her aunts Marie and Lina.
"Nov 16th 1914. Back of Uncle Fita’s shop. During every high tide the sea washes right under the back of the shop. The last few days the sea has been very high, some of the waves breaking against those large piles that are holding the building up. Uncle had to get those put in soon after the sea had washed everything away, otherwise the building would have sagged. We are unable to get out of the back door, and you can imagine us having a peep over the top of the iron up against the door. We have to have the iron otherwise the sea would come inside. That skylight you will see is where the filing room is, and window at the back is where the lavatory is. I wish you were here to have a peep out the back door."
"This is where Mr Jacob’s sheds are being washed out to sea. He had a good deal of stock in them, everything went out to sea before they had time to save a thing. The sea is not rough at present, but I think it will be fairly severe next spring tides. Uncle has had the chimney taken down in the shop, and our hearts are more at ease, as we expected the chimney to come toppling down."
"Nov 27th 1914. In this photo you will notice that the shop stands a great deal higher out of the sand than it was in the previous postcard. Where the skylight is in the washroom you will notice that the chimney is removed. Uncle was afraid that bank underneath the shop would become more undermined, and if so, the chimney would crash through and demolish the building, so he decided to get it taken down at once. If you look closely, you will perceive Miss Diamond standing at the back door looking out. Miss Diamond has her hand up to her head, and I am looking up the beach."