When the earthquake hit, local farmer Greg Morrell was driving his truck, taking a load of prime lambs to the rail head.
Mr Morrell, now 72, was one of the first people to arrive in the town’s main street and to see, firsthand, the extent of the destruction.
“There was no warning,” he said. “All of a sudden, it felt like the truck had square wheels. We pulled up, stopped and still felt the shaking.
“Then the Anglican Church adjacent
to the truck just collapsed. We rushed over to make sure there was no one inside or inside the rectory. There wasn’t. But imagine if it had happened on a Sunday morning.
“We didn’t automatically think it had been an earthquake. We hadn’t been in one before. I don’t know what we thought it was.
“But then we went down the main street and saw the destruction. Power lines were down, buildings were damaged or had collapsed. Then we realised it had been a quake.
“People were walking around; dazed, shaken.
“We then saw my step-aunt. She said her husband was trapped in the rubble of their house.
“My father and I started the rescue. We could hear him but we just had to keep digging until we could get him out.
“Finally we did. And he was fine. “He had been asleep. He didn’t remember how but somehow he got under the bed before the walls collapsed.”
Greg Morrell by the town hall site.