10th November 2017, Volume 130 Number 1465

Nick Wilson, Catharine Ferguson, Geoffrey Rice, Michael G Baker, Ben Schrader, Christine Clement, George Thomson

Pandemics of influenza and other infectious diseases remain a serious global threat, requiring ongoing preparations by all countries. Such preparations include wide-ranging core capacities for surveillance and response.1,2 There is…

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Summary

This study aimed to systematically identify physical memorials to the 1918 influenza pandemic in New Zealand. Despite the high impact of the 1918 influenza pandemic in this country (~8,600 deaths), only seven publicly accessible local memorials which referred this pandemic were identified. Another 11 memorials were identified, but these were in private settings or did not refer to the pandemic. There is no national memorial and a marked contrast exists with the number of war memorials (260 times more per 1,000 deaths for one war). There appears to be major scope for enhancing public education around the persisting threat of future pandemics via improved use of physical memorials and linkages to online resources.

Abstract

Aim

To systematically identify physical memorials to the 1918 influenza pandemic in an entire country.

Method

Internet searches, contact with local historians and field expeditions were conducted.

Results

Despite the high impact of the 1918 influenza pandemic in New Zealand (~8,600 deaths), only seven publicly accessible local memorials which referred this pandemic were identified. Another 11 memorials were identified, but these were in private settings or did not refer to the pandemic. There is no national memorial and a marked contrast exists with the number of war memorials (260 times more per 1,000 deaths for one war), and for 20 smaller mass fatality events (one of which has eight memorials alone). The current educational value of these pandemic memorials is likely to be minimal since only three are in cities, there is a lack of supporting signage and there are no links to online resources.

Conclusion

Despite the major impact of the 1918 influenza pandemic in New Zealand, publicly accessible memorials were found to be rare. This was in marked contrast to other disaster-related memorials and particularly to war memorials. There appears to be major scope for enhancing public education around the persisting threat of future pandemics via improved use of physical memorials and linkages to online resources.

Author Information

Nick Wilson, Professor, University of Otago, Wellington; Catharine Ferguson, Kerikeri, Northland; Geoffrey Rice, Professor, University of Canterbury, Christchurch; 
Michael G Baker, Professor, University of Otago, Wellington; Ben Schrader, Wellington;
Christine Clement, Te Puke, Bay of Plenty; George Thomson, Associate Professor, University of Otago, Wellington.

Acknowledgements

The authors gratefully acknowledge those who helped in Northland to identify memorials and permit photographs to be taken: (i) Te Huranga Hohaia and the kaumātua of the Te Tii Mangonui Community, Bay of Islands, Northland; and (ii) Steve Morunga and Cecelia Morunga of Omanaia, Hokianga, Northland. We also thank Imelda Bargas (Ministry of Culture and Heritage), Aidan Challis and Stuart Park for their helpful assistance.

Correspondence

Professor Nick Wilson, University of Otago, Wellington.

Correspondence Email

nick.wilson@otago.ac.nz

Competing Interests

Nil.

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