Mt. St. Marys,
Sun. 18th Aug. ’68.
Dear Mum & Dad,
We have just finished a Civil Defence Practice. Almost the whole of Napier was involved. At 12.30 (just as we were finishing lunch) the emergency alarm went. We all pretended that there was an earthquake, and evacuated. We then had a roll call and search parties were sent out to look for the missing. Two were dead and six were injured. They were all bandaged up and carried on stretchers. Ambulances came and took away the injured and the dead were taken away in a lorry. They were all taken to McLean Park where they were treated.
At our gate all the people whose houses had fallen down assembled, and later on were taken away in trucks to be “looked after”. (The Seventh Day Adventists refused to assemble outside our gates and so they made an alternative spot to meet).
Messages were coming over the radio - “So far eleven people are known to be dead. THIS IS ONLY A CIVIL DEFENCE PRACTICE. PLEASE NOTE, THIS IS ONLY A CIVIL DEFENCE PRACTICE.” Even so, many people in Napier caused confusion because they panicked, not knowing what was going on. Boys on bikes acted as Messengers. Some of the Students were Official First Aid Men. Bros. Robert & Raymond were in charge at the Mount. Bro. Robert also had a lot to do with the organization in the first place - Napier and all I think. In 1931 there were 9 killed here.
The Brothers are having their retreat here this week, and are coming in from all over N.Z. (I make it sound like a mass migration but there are only about 50 in the country). Bro. Augustine from Silverstream will be here.
On Wednesday, Thursday and Friday we had 40 Hour Devotions. Thursday was also a free day because it was the feast of the Assumption. I biked into Napier with Pat Devlin and Hedley Aitken. We tried all the pianos out that were for sale, and listened to all the latest L.P.’s by pretending we are thinking of doing some buying. Apparently several years ago one student went in and bargained for a second hand car by going to and from two opponent firms and bringing the price down. However, don’t think that that is all we ever do when we go to town! We never have any money on us so there is never much chance coming home loaded with parcels. Kerry Maher went into a shop recently and asked if they have any literature on the earthquake he could look at. The produced a 5c. pamphlet. The lady expected him to buy it, and after a long embarrassing pause, Kerry said that he “didn’t think he could afford it just now” and then ran out! Denis O’Hagan (who has been here 6 years) had 15c and went into a dairy and asked “How much do ice creams cost?”!
Last night we had a talk and film by Miss Bernadette O’Neil who had just returned from the Solomon Islands after 4 years as a nurse. She was only a few miles away from Fr Denis Mahoney’s Station, & she says that he is doing a tremendous job. Fr. Moore (who is now in N.Z.) was with her. He built roads, a school, a hospital and a church (which holds about 1200 so it is fairly big). She said that the worst thing that can happen is to have untrained lay people come over. For example, a nurse came over to help her, but she wasn’t fully trained in all spheres. She said that she would not leave that nurse alone at the hospital because the Solomon Islanders travelled miles to see a nurse & it wasn’t fair to them if the nurse wasn’t trained. Secondly, the nurse wasn’t happy because she often didn’t know how to treat certain cases. This particular nurse lasted three months, so you can see the waste of money it is in sending over untrained lay people. She said that it was better to have an untrained native than a half trained European, e.g. in child bearing.
Well, I think that that is all the philosophizing! I enclose a list of Visiting Days.
Sun. 15th Sept. after lunch. (Blossom weekend).
Sun. 27th Oct. (Xt. The king. Labour weekend).
Sun. 8th Dec.