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Influenza Pandemic

Events In History

23 November 1918

No other event has killed so many New Zealanders in such a short time as the 1918 influenza pandemic.

12 October 1918

Many people blamed the liner Niagara for bringing a deadly new influenza virus to New Zealand. But six people had died of the flu in Auckland in the three days before it arrived, and the upsurge in cases in the city came two weeks later.

3 May 1897

Margaret Cruickshank, the first female doctor registered in New Zealand, practised in Waimate, South Canterbury, until her death from influenza in 1918.

Articles

The 1918 influenza pandemic

The lethal influenza pandemic that struck New Zealand between October and December 1918 killed about 9000 people in two months. No other event has claimed so many New Zealand lives in such a short time. Read the full article

Page 1 - The 1918 flu pandemic

The lethal influenza pandemic that struck New Zealand between October and December 1918 killed about 9000 people in two months. No other event has claimed so many New Zealand

Page 2 - The pandemic begins abroad

The 1918 influenza pandemic was commonly referred to as ‘the Spanish flu’, but it did not originate in

Page 3 - The pandemic hits New Zealand

Many people believed that the second wave of the 1918 influenza pandemic arrived in New Zealand as ‘a deadly new virus’ on board the RMS

Page 4 - Uneven rates of death

No other event has killed so many New Zealanders in so short a space of time. While the First World War claimed the lives of more than 18,000 New Zealand soldiers over four years,

Page 5 - Response to the influenza pandemic

There was a degree of consistency in New Zealand's response to the influenza pandemic, thanks to a telegram the Health Minister, George Russell, issued to all borough councils and

Page 6 - Māori and the flu, 1918–19

Historian Geoffrey Rice suggests that higher death rates among Māori (more than eight times those for Pākehā) may have resulted from lower immunity due to their isolation from

Page 7 - Aftermath

Page 8 - North Island influenza death rates

Death rates from the 1918 influenza pandemic for towns and counties in the North

Page 9 - South Island influenza death rates

Death rates in South Island towns and counties from the influenza

Page 10 - Influenza in Samoa

The total number of deaths attributable to influenza is estimated as 8500, 22% of the Samoan

Page 11 - Further information

Armistice Day

After four terrible years, fighting in the First World War finally ended with the signing of an armistice between Germany and the Allies on 11 November 1918. New Zealanders celebrated enthusiastically, despite having recently celebrated the surrenders of the three other Central Powers and the premature news of an armistice with Germany. Read the full article

Page 1 - Armistice Day

After four terrible years, fighting in the First World War finally ended with the signing of an armistice between Germany and the Allies on 11 November 1918. New Zealanders

Page 2 - Pre-Armistice Day surrenders

From 1 October 1918 New Zealanders progressively celebrated the surrenders of Bulgaria, the Ottoman Empire and Austria-Hungary before the armistice with Germany on 11

Page 3 - False armistice

On 7 November 1918 the Prime Minister assured the public - following rumours to the contrary - that the government was not holding back news of a German surrender. The next

Page 5 - Armistice Day and the flu

The influenza pandemic dampened some armistice celebrations, particularly in

Page 7 - New Zealand in 1918

Some facts and stats about New Zealand in the year the First World War

New Zealand in Samoa

New Zealand was ill-equipped to cope with the Western Samoa mandate it was allocated by the League of Nations in 1920. The Mau movement's passive resistance culminated in the violence of 'Black Saturday', 28 December 1929, which left 11 Samoans and one New Zealand policeman dead. Read the full article

Page 1 - New Zealand in Samoa

New Zealand was ill-equipped to cope with the Western Samoa mandate it was allocated by the League of Nations in 1920. The Mau movement's passive resistance culminated in the

Page 2 - Background

When war broke out in Europe in August 1914, Britain asked New Zealand to seize German Samoa as a 'great and urgent Imperial

Capture of German Samoa

When war broke out in Europe in August 1914, Britain asked New Zealand to seize German Samoa as a ‘great and urgent Imperial service’. Although the tiny German garrison offered no opposition, at the time it was regarded as a potentially risky action. Read the full article

Page 4 - Wartime administration

German officials were replaced by New Zealand military officers, civilians, or British residents. These often lacked the experience or qualifications to do the

Pacific Islanders in the NZEF

Cook Islanders, Niueans, Fijians and Gilbert Islanders all took their place in the ranks of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force during the First World War. As well as the dangers of war, Pacific soldiers faced language difficulties, an unfamiliar army diet and European diseases. Read the full article

Page 3 - The Rarotongan Company

Information on the New Zealand Rarotongan Company, which served in the Sinai and Palestine campaigns

Page 4 - Fijian and Gilbert Island Contingents

Information about men from Fiji and the Gilbert Islands who enlisted for service in the NZEF.

Page 5 - Difficulties faced by Pacific Islanders

Information on the difficulties faced by Pacific Islanders when they left their island homes for the first time and entered the

1919 peace celebrations

Although the guns fell silent on 11 November 1918, peace wasn't officially proclaimed until 28 June 1919, when the Treaty of Versailles was signed. In July 1919 communities throughout New Zealand and the Empire celebrated peace with elaborate public events over several days. Read the full article

Page 2 - Planning gets under way

Almost immediately after the armistice, communities throughout New Zealand and the Empire began to plan elaborate celebrations that would mark the official end of the war in a

Pacific aftermath

Participation in the First World War changed Pacific Islanders' lives. Returning servicemen had seen the world. Read the full article

Page 3 - Troop repatriation

When the armistice was signed in November 1918, Pacific island troops in New Zealand service were stationed in a number of

NZ Railways at war

The railway system and its workforce was one of the most valuable assets available to the New Zealand state to support the national effort during the First World War Read the full article

Page 5 - Manpower challenges at home

How did New Zealand Railways (NZR) keep up its massive manpower commitments during the First World War, while still maintaining services to its

Comparing pandemics

MCH Senior Historian Elizabeth Cox has been pondering the similarities and differences in New Zealand’s response to the 1918 flu pandemic, and the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. Here are some of her preliminary thoughts. Read the full article

Page 1 - Comparing pandemics

MCH Senior Historian Elizabeth Cox has been pondering the similarities and differences in New Zealand’s response to the 1918 flu pandemic, and the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. Here

Page 2 - Activities: Comparing pandemics

An influenza medicine depot in Christchurch