Local History Flashback – This month in 1973!

Published: 04-Feb-2020

We have been feeling the heat over the last few days but can you believe that 47 years ago North Canterbury hit the hottest temperature that New Zealand had ever seen! Can you imagine the temperature hitting 42.4 degrees Celsius? And if so, what would do to cool yourself down?

Rangiora High Street, 1975. If you know any info about this photo let us know!

Here’s a passage that was written up by Michael Wright and published in The Press on the 27th of January 2018.

“February 7, 1973. The North Canterbury town registered 42.4 degrees Celsius that day, still the hottest temperature ever recorded in New Zealand. It was so hot, tens of thousands of chickens perished in overheated poultry farms, factory workers walked off the job, schools and offices closed early, railway lines buckled and the thermometer recording the temperature in Cathedral Square literally went off the chart. Frank Rapley was assistant town clerk for Rangiora Borough Council at the time, “She was hot all right,” he said, “Real hot.” “We’d had a gasworks [which produce tar as a by-product] and a lot our roads were tar and of course they all melted. The shop owners were moaning about tar going into their shops… It was liquid, just about. The water supply got hammered too.”

Many schools and offices had admitted defeat by lunchtime and sent everyone home, although Waimakariri District Mayor David Ayers, a teacher at Mairehau High School at the time, recalled soldiering on in vain: "I remember my last class walked into my room. It was too hot for them to misbehave, it was too hot to teach. So for 40 minutes we just sat and looked at each other."

If you would like to learn more about the Waimakariri’s local history check this out!