One hundred years ago 21st November 1918

While peace had been declared the Spanish Influenza would take 9,000 lives in New Zealand. The flu was often spread in large gatherings so sports games were cancelled and dances banned.

The epidemic hit Plimmerton and Hongoeka with up to 100 people falling sick. On 20th November 1918 three men were reported to be seriously ill at the temporary hospital set up in St Andrews Church, Steyne Avenue, Plimmerton.

One was Giovanni Martino Mariano (  Jack ) Vella of Skolo House, Steyne Avenue.   Jack died, aged 21, on 21st November 1918 his older sister Metty Vella noting that:

The whole family got sick during the influenza epidemic; we lost my brother Jack in the epidemic. Mother had us all in bed, except herself. She managed to keep going and then my brother was so ill we took him to the emergency hospital in the Anglican Church across the road. It was a shocking thing. It took both young and elderly people.

Another to die was Mr Donald Robertson, Donald was 44 and had operated the Plimmerton Railway Store and later post office from 1900 – 1914.

The third man Ernest Arthur Palmer a lay reader in the Anglican Church had volunteered to work at St Andrews during the epidemic he died in Wellington on 28th November 1918.

News reports in 1918 noted at least three Maori from Hongoeka had also died.

Vella family 1909 – a young Jack seated far right, his sister Metty standing 2nd left – Pataka Art & Museum


Metty Vella 1919- training for handling flu cases – Metty was a Volunteer aid nurse during WW1

St Andrews 1916 copy of postcard

Steyne Avenue pre 1916 Plimmerton with Skolol House on the left and Plimmerton Railway Store and Post Office right

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