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Hastings History, New Zealand

The owners of the land, which were Māori, leased about 70 square kilometers of the Heretaunga Plains in 1867 to Tomas Tanner, who had been trying to buy the land for three years.  In 1870, a dozen people formed a syndicate in order to buy the land for about 371 pounds per square kilometer.  Many of the locals firmly believe that the city was name Hicksville originally after Francis Hicks, who purchased a 100 acre block of land, where Hasting's center is today, from Mr. Tanner.  However, the story is questionable.

The location's original name was Karamu, which was to become Hastings' town center.  In 1871, the government decided to run the new railway to Napier in the south via a notional junction in Karamu in the Heretaunga Plains' center.  This was on the land of Francis Hicks, and the decision was based mainly on two of Charles Weber's reports, who was the surveyor and provincial engineer in charge of the railway.  The name Karamu was changed to Hastings in 1873.  The person who chose that name has been arguable, but Thomas Tanner claimed that he did and said that his choice was inspired from his reading about the trial of Warren Hastings.  This name fitted in with the other names around the district, of which were named after prominent history figures of British India.  In 1874, the first train made the trip of 12 miles to Hastings from Napier.

The local economy made a big leap in 1881 with the opening of a brewery by Edward Newbigin.  There were about 195 land freeholders in town.  Fruit growing and vineyards were the first industries of Hastings, and on October 20 1886, the town was incorporated as a self-governing town with about 600 people.  In 1918, a flu epidemic swept over Hawkes Bay, and almost 300 people died.  The next year, Hastings received electricity.

On February 3rd, 1931, an earthquake hit Hastings, which killed 93 people and damaged or destroyed nearly all of the buildings in the town.  During the Second World War, allied troops were served at the ANA Club (Army, Navy, and Air Force), as well as in private homes.  The allied soldiers were sent supplies by 150 members that belonged to the 16 different local clubs.

In 1954, the town became the first city in the country to introduce fluoridation to their water supply.  Their intention was to get a comparison of the effect that the water had on tooth decay against the water that was not fluoridated from Napier during a period of 10 years.  This study received criticism for the results and methodology, and it still remains controversial.

Recently, on 25th August 2008, Hastings was hit with a 5.9 earthquake at 11:25pm.  This one only caused minor damage to the shops, where the stock was shaken from their shelves.  There were also minor power outages reported.

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