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The earthquake blocked the Matakitaki and Buller Rivers and triggered some 10,000 landslides

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At 10.17a.m. on Monday 17 June 1929 at 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck 15km north-west of Murchison.

The earthquake blocked the Matakitaki and Buller Rivers and triggered some 10,000 landslides. As a result of the earthquake, 17 people were killed and hundreds more were affected. With the uncertainty that comes with a large earthquake, uninhabitable buildings and blocked rivers threatening to flood populated areas the decision was made by the people of Murchison to evacuate. Some left for Christchurch and Reefton, some went to family and friends and about 700 evacuees were taken in by the people of Nelson – only a few remained in Murchison.

For many it was difficult to leave their animals, especially their dogs. Local farmer and butcher, Dave Oxnam took on the responsibility of many of these dogs. People called out to him as they left Murchison on trucks – “Will you look after my dogs for me Dave?”. Dave Oxnam fed these dogs for his own supplies and everyday would walk them down to Murchison for exercise, at one point it is said he was looking after over 50 dogs. This image shows him and some of the remaining locals outside the damaged Hodgson’s Store.

Image Credit: Nelson Provincial Museum, F N Jones Collection: 321277

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