Spanish Flu preparations 102 years ago

As we live through these COVID times in 2020, in October it will be 102 years since New Zealand went through something so similar.

The team at Hawke’s Bay Knowledge Bank this month has unearthed a photo that shows how the community back in late 1918 tried to deal with a virus that ended up taking 9000 New Zealand lives in just a few months.

According to,  there are similarities in reaction to the two pandemics. In 1918 many public facilities were also closed and gatherings postponed.

The Knowledge Bank’s historic photo shows preparations underway at Mahora School in Hastings, using a spray unit supplied by orchardist Mr Robertson (at right with horse) to fumigate the school.

Knowledge Bank Hawke’s Bay is a charitable organisation based at Stoneycroft House in Hastings, committed to preserving Hawke’s Bay memories; the stories of its events, people, celebrations, tragedies and day-to-day life.

The work is predominately carried out by a large team of volunteers who scan books, papers and photos and record and transcribe verbal recollections, says Hawke’s Bay Digital Archives Trust chairman Peter Dunkerley.

“Coming across these memories, while in many ways tragic, remind us of how resilient we really are.

“It is quite incredible to believe that we have been through something so similarly frightening before and, to date, with a much worse outcome.”


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