Last week I was able to take my family to Vaimoso in Samoa to view the commemoration stone erected by the NZ government some years ago and the lines of concrete depicting the mass graves of the 1918 Influenza Epidemic.
It is understood that within villages, some were able to bury their dead on their own lands but so many Samoan were effected at the time that the epidemic was at its peak, that the NZ Garrison got involved in burying the dead who lived close by to Vaimoso in a bid to contain the epidemic spreading further.
It’s part of the indigenous research that I’m doing for our next book soon to be released in commemoration of now over 100 years since the fatal influenza epidemic reached Samoa’s shores back in the year 1918.
The research for this book has been a couple of years in the making in wanting to get the story right and also in trying to understand the circumstances that lead up to what happened and the aftermath which is still being felt today.
I know that the effects of this devastating event still affect some of the families that I am connected to in not knowing or having gaps of knowledge in their genealogy because significant family members who held that knowledge died during the epidemic and those family connections and stories were not passed on.
I must say that even for many Samoans, this part of their history is unknown to them and I most recently found out where the mass graves were located because this part of our history has not been taught well inside and outside of Samoa and for me, our books are a part of encouraging the education of our children to know about their history that informs their past, present and future…