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Beca Heritage Week - UC Connect: Black Flu: Why should we remember the 1918...

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Central Lecture Theatres

University of Canterbury

Ilam

Christchurch, 8041

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Presented by: Dr Geoffrey Rice

A century on, the lessons of the 1918 influenza pandemic could help New Zealand plan for a future pandemic, according to Canterbury historian Dr Geoffrey Rice. The risk of another major influenza pandemic is even greater now, thanks to international jet travel.
In this upcoming Beca Heritage Week-UC Connect public lecture – Black Flu: Why should we remember the 1918 influenza pandemic in New Zealand?Dr Rice will discuss the pandemic which was New Zealand’s worst public health disaster.
“It is an inspiring and fascinating story that all New Zealanders need to know about.”
The whole country seemed to shut down for several weeks in November 1918. Because the victims’ bodies turned black when they died, many believed it was the plague, Dr Rice says.
“It remains, for instance, the worst disease since the Black Death and it changed the end of the First World War. So many troops were affected they couldn’t be sent on strategic offensives. If it weren’t for the flu, the face of Europe following the war could have been very different.”
Many New Zealand families were affected by the 1918 influenza pandemic. In the space of about six weeks, over 6400 Pākehā died and an estimated 2500 Māori. That equals nearly half the total of New Zealand soldiers killed in the First World War. Yet these were civilians, dying in the first month of peace, he says.
When planning for a future pandemic, people needed to consider the resources they have and what systems are in place to deal with another massive health crisis, Dr Rice says.
“If you know what has happened in the past, you can avoid making mistakes in the future.”
Dr Geoffrey Rice was Professor of History at the University of Canterbury, where he lectured in European history for nearly 40 years until his retirement in 2012. Dr Rice’s 1988 book on the subject, Black November, was the first national level study of the 1918 influenza pandemic based on individual death certificates. Dr Rice interviewed as many survivors as he could find – about 150 people. His 2005 book Black November: The 1918 influenza pandemic in New Zealand, was shortlisted for the History category of the Montana NZ Book Awards. His updated new book, Black Flu 1918: The story of New Zealand’s worst public health disaster (Canterbury University Press), features new colour illustrations, and includes work done by Professor Nick Wilson on memorials to the epidemic, including Māori memorials.
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If you do not manage to register, you are welcome to arrive on the day and wait for all available seats to be released five minutes prior to the lecture commencing.
The UC Connect public lecture series offers the community the opportunity to attend topical, interesting, educational lectures on a range of topics given by experts in their fields. To receive notifications on upcoming UC Connect speakers, join our mailing list
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Central Lecture Theatres

University of Canterbury

Ilam

Christchurch, 8041

New Zealand

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