Te Reinga Marae Influenza Memorial

A dignified lone granite obelisk stands on the atea of Te Reinga marae in northern Hawkes Bay. The following text is inscribed on all four sides:

TAMATEA / WHAENE KAHUNGUNU / RANGINUI / KOINEI NGA TIPUNA O TE / IWI KUA MATE I TE MATE / URUTA KIIA NEI HE WHURU / UI MATE I TE TAU O TO TATAU / ARIKI 1918.

The first three lines are Ngāti Hinehika ancestral names. The rest of the inscription can be paraphrased in English as:

“These are the people of the tribe who died in the epidemic that they called the ‘flu in the year of our Lord 1918.”

The people of Te Reinga, inland from Wairoa, were hard hit by the influenza epidemic that swept New Zealand in November 1918. By the end of the month as many as 60 people at Te Reinga and nearby Ruakituri were incapacitated. Local settlers provided the stricken with some food and nursing care, but there no doctors in the locality and no hospital facilities until early December, when  a temporary hospital was set up at Te Reinga Native School (space soon ran out and the patients were moved to Tiniroto.)

The names of more than 40 people from the area who died between November 1918 and March 1919 are inscribed on the memorial at Te Reinga marae.

See: ‘The Influenza Epidemic’, Poverty Bay Herald, 2/12/1918, p. 5; ‘The Influenza Epidemic’, Poverty Bay Herald, 3/12/1918, p. 6; ‘Combating the Outbreak at Tiniroto’, Poverty Bay Herald, 5/12/1918, p. 5; Te Reinga School, 75th Jubilee, 1988, Te Reinga, 1989, [p. 29].

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