influenza pandemic

Events In History


The 1918 influenza pandemic

  • The 1918 influenza pandemic

    The lethal influenza pandemic that struck New Zealand between October and December 1918 killed more than 8600 people in two months. No other event has claimed so many New Zealand lives in such a short time.

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  • Page 2 – The pandemic begins abroad

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

  • Page 3 – The pandemic hits New Zealand

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

  • 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 a four-

  • Page 5 – Response to the influenza pandemic

    There were consistencies in New Zealand's response to the influenza pandemic. Many of these arose out of a circular telegram the Health Minister, George Russell, issued to all

  • Page 6 – Aftermath

    Robert Makgill Following the pandemic speculation continued over the Niagara's involvement in bringing the virus to New Zealand.

  • Page 7 – North Island influenza death rates

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

  • Page 8 – South Island influenza death rates

    Death rates in South Island towns and counties from the influenza pandemic

  • Page 9 – Influenza in Samoa

    The total number of deaths attributable to influenza is estimated to have reached 8500, or 22% of the Samoan population

Armistice Day

  • Armistice Day

    After four terrible years, the First World War finally came to a close with the signing of an armistice between Germany and the Allied Powers 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.

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  • Page 2 – Pre-Armistice Day surrenders

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

  • 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 festivities, particularly in Auckland.

  • Page 7 – New Zealand in 1918

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

New Zealand in Samoa

  • New Zealand in Samoa

    New Zealand was ill-equipped to cope with the Western Samoa mandate 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.

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  • 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 service'.

1919 peace celebrations

  • 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.

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  • Page 2 - Planning gets under wayAlmost 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 Islanders in the NZEF

  • 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.

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  • Page 4 – Fijian and Gilbert Island Contingents

    Information on 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 army.

Pacific aftermath

  • Pacific aftermath

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

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  • Page 3 - Troop repatriationWhen the Armistice was signed in November 1918, Pacific island troops in New Zealand service were stationed in a number of

Capture of German Samoa

  • 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.

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  • Page 4 - Wartime administrationGerman officials were replaced by New Zealand military officers, civilians, or British residents. These often lacked the experience or qualifications to do the


  • Makgill, Robert Haldane

    Robert Makgill was a key figure in the development of New Zealand's public health system. He was one of the country's first district health officers and played a crucial role during the devastating 1918 influenza pandemic.

  • Cruickshank, Margaret Barnet

    Margaret Cruickshank was the first woman to be registered as a doctor in New Zealand. She worked tirelessly during the 1918 influenza pandemic but eventually caught the disease herself and died on 28 November 1918.

  • Logan, Robert

    Robert Logan ran the military administration of German Samoa on behalf of Britain during the First World War.