We briefly look at the establishment of the district hospital and we reflect on the impact of the 1918 influenza on the Far North.
Kauri timber for the building of the Mangonui County Hospital situated in the township of Mangonui, was donated by the Lane family in Totara North, and building started in 1906.
There were eight medical and eight surgical beds, an additional maternity area for four, both a men’s and women’s ward, theatre and x-ray room, matrons office, morgue and a house surgeon’s and service rooms.
The hospital was officially opened on the 8 February, 1907. Mangonui was the most populated place in the county at the time; however Kaitaia residents were opposed to the hospital being built there.
With the rise of the dairy industry in Kaitaia and the arrival of the Bell Brothers in 1914, the population growth and prosperity accelerated in Kaitaia and pressures to shift the hospital increased but to no avail.
In 1927, a small building was set up in Kaitaia for a hospital. However, a call to shift the district hospital in Mangonui arose again and eventually the hospital moved to Kaitaia in 1934.
The global influenza pandemic of 1918 claimed many, many lives - approximately 20 million worldwide, about 9,000 being New Zealanders. European deaths were put at around 5,500 and Maori at 1,200.
The disease appeared to have been introduced to New Zealand by crew and passengers from the ship Niagara, which arrived at Auckland on 12 October 1918. Although cases were reported in Auckland before this, there were no deaths. There were no attempts to restrict travel and with the crowds meeting to celebrate Armistice on and after 11 November, the virus spread rapidly south and around the country.
Belatedly, shops were shut and theatres and schools closed. Trams stopped running for passengers. Instead trams, trains, trucks and cars were used for hearses. Clergymen became as overworked as doctors and nurses.
Women in the Northland region with nursing experience were asked to volunteer for service in the Auckland district, their travelling expenses paid and ten shillings a day was provided.
Little is known how the Far North coped as a whole district. In Kaitaia, it was recorded that there were 35 deaths by 28 November, mainly amongst Maori. Many of the deaths were due to poor sanitary conditions, and failure to take the minimum steps laid down to avoid contagion.
In the Hokianga district the numbers of deaths were higher with 167 registered deaths; 158 of them being Maori, and the Rawene Hospital was swamped.
The Acting Chief Health Officer telegraphed warnings to local bodies. Maori were prohibited from holding tangi, and by early December hapu leaders supported the prohibition and implored whanau members not to travel from Auckland to Northland and gather for tangihanga (Maori funeral rites and rituals).
Kitchens were established around the district too. At Awanui a temporary kitchen was set up where food was supplied to the surrounding districts. Colonel Bell and R.A Northwood took over the inhaling plant and administered the treatment to 300 locals daily on a 53 mile (85km) circuit.
Individual and community efforts were reported as magnificent. Those praised for their work included Dr Lunn, Nurse Ferguson, the Maori nurse for the county as well as Mr Alf Long at Kaingaroa, who had previous medical experience. The Rev Drake and his wife, Mrs Redmond, Mr and Mrs Clarke at Pukepoto School, Mr Billy Grigg, Miss Eva Foster the county clerk, E.W.D Mathews and hundreds of others were also involved in helping the sick.
The 1918 influenza pandemic was a two year global ordeal lasting from January 1918 to December 1920.
We are again living in uncertain times but perhaps we can learn from our past - or choose not to.
To all our essential workers, ka nui te mihi ki a koutou katoa.
To all our local doctors, nurses and other health workers working at Kaitaia Hospital, and other hospitals and clinics in the North : Kia kaha, kia manawanui.
Stay safe, stay at home and save lives
Noho pumau, noho aio, noho ora mai
In Celebration of New Zealand Arts Month, Museum @ Te Ahu presented a competition of emerging artists of the Far North. Art works were exhibited in the Te Ahu Atrium and prize giving was held on Thursday 26 September at 10.30am, also in the Atrium.
In lieu of a formal public art gallery in the Far North it is hard to gauge the breadth and width of talented artists in the region.
As a centre of cultural preservation and display and with no creative counterpart in the arts in the Far North, the Museum has some responsibility to provide an artistic platform. After all, art is a language and medium in which life is examined and stories are told.
Museum @Te Ahu, with local group IO Creatives, hosted the 'Mana I Te Whenua, Mana o Te Whenua' exhibition and prize giving. We asked artists to consider land and humanity's connection to it, and the concept of kaitiakitanga "guardianship".
Judge and local well known artist Theresa Reihana remarked "The works entered into this competition show the impressive creative community within the Far North. It was so hard to judge because they were all so good. Most inspiring is the ability of our youth who showed such amazing skills and talent."
The exhibition continues in the museum and in the Te Ahu art gallery through to 30 November 2019.
We would like to thank the Arts Foundation for their support and encouragement during the whole process. This event was part of a New Zealand wide #ArtsmonthNZ event.
The Museum at Te Ahu commemorates the 100 year anniversary of the ending of World War One in the display Ngã Rau Aroha. It provides a glimpse into the lives of Far North people who served on the Western Front and the communities who endured the absence of loved ones during and after the war. Today it is impossible to truly understand the upheaval and how tumultuous life was back then; but we honour and remember them all. Ngā Rau Aroha “100 garlands of love” pays tribute to their immeasurable acts of love, honour and sacrifice of Far North people.
The museum has an impressive doll collection and mid 20th Century wedding dresses from the textiles collection. The display “All Dolled Up” looks at the intricate detail of weddings for both women and dolls alike.
The museum was open on ANZAC Day (Thursday 25 April) from 8.30am until 4.30pm - normal Museum hours.
There was also an ANZAC Service held in the Te Ahu Atrium at 11am.
Please come enjoy a visit your Museum @ Te Ahu and at the same time pay your respects to those who fought for our freedom.