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.
Following the pandemic speculation continued over the Niagara's involvement in bringing the virus to New Zealand. The Department of Public Health was also heavily criticised. The government responded by setting up a royal commission with wide powers of investigation.
It fell to Robert Makgill, acting Chief Health Officer, to implement the Commission's recommendations. One of the recommendations, which Makgill had argued for, was for a new Health Act ‘to consolidate and simplify the existing legislation'.