New Zealand Mount Stevens disappears - or not?

I’m reading a newspaper article from June 24, 1929 when two earthquakes struck New Zealand. The article states, “…as a result of the earthquakes, Mount Stevens, nearly 4000 feet high, disappeared completely. Slopes have been leveled, trees destroyed…”

But a Google search found that Mount Stevens is now 1300 meters high which is about 4000 feet. So what happened? Is this a different Mount Stevens or another case of “Rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated”?


The Great Earthquake of June 25th 1929 popped it back up again.

If it had been in the northern hemisphere it would have been lowered. Being in the southern hemisphere, it was raised.

I’m bumping this because I’d like to know the answer, which seems factual rather than a matter of opinion.

The information I found about the earthquake, known as the Murchison earthquake, doesn’t mention Mt Stevens at all. There were some large mudslides in the Matakitaki Valley but the mountain is well over 100km away in a straight line.
The Murchison earthquake was on June 17, 1929, if you want to refer to it.

Is it possible that they mean something different by “disappeared”? Maybe there was so much dust and rubble kicked into the air that the reporter couldn’t even see a mountain that’s usually very prominent on the horizon.

“Slopes have been leveled” would suggest otherwise.

At 1213m Mt Stevens wouldn’t be very prominent in that area of NZ.
The nearest “town” would be Collingwood with a population of a bit over 200.

All the reports I’ve seen are in non-NZ paper archives so it might be a non event.

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Seems factual to me, too.

Moving thread from IMHO to GQ.

Believe it or not, not everything you read in newspapers is true.

Yeah, there are lots of 1000m peaks in the area, it’s not like a Mount Taranaki.

Searching Papers Past, which is the New Zealand national digitised newspaper archive for 1929-30 found only two mentions of Mt Stevens.

The first, fairly straightforward on 22 June [Wellington Evening Post] said:

A mountain top at the head of the Anatoki Valley, in direct line with Kahurangi Point, and about 16 miles from Takaka, has not been visible since the big shock on Monday. (The mountain top mentioned is presumably Mount Stevens, 3950 feet high.)

With the magic of not-quite exact re-transmission this became by 6 August [Poverty Bay Herald, NZ]:

A United Press Association cablegram from London which circulated through the United States daily press on June 24 stated, with regard to the recent earthquake: “Mount Stevens, a New Zealand island, nearly 4000 ft. high, has disappeared because of earthquakes, according to a dispatch to the Daily Telegraph (London) from its Wellington correspondent, who quoted the postmaster at Takaka.

So what was probably haze obscuring of a distant peak, or perhaps a major scoria slide that reduced its height became the disappearance of Mt Stevens Island.

The whisper chain seems to be Takaka post-master [first report] -> NZ Evening Post -> London Daily Telegraph -> United Press ->US papers ->Local rag in Poverty Bay

There was a piece in The Times (London) on June 20 1929, which said “In the neighbourhood of Murchison township, 20 miles east of Westport, enormous landslides blocked rivers and buried large areas. The whole landscape appeared to rock and heave and two hills were levelled.”

It doesn’t expand on which hills or how big they were.

Another story two days later, referring to Murchison, said “Two neighbouring hills became level ground.”

And on September 1, a report of surveying after the quake: “The Public Works Department’s survey of the earthquake district reveals great changes in the level of the land. An area 18 miles long and about 50 miles broad has been raised. The maximum elevation is 16 feet, compared with a maximum of 9 feet in the 1855 earthquake. The site of Murchison village has been lifted up 4 feet.”