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Pandemic preparedness subject of second ‘Outside the Square’ lecture

17 November 2005

Lessons drawn from Christchurch’s experience of the 1918 influenza pandemic will be the focus of the second ‘Outside the Square’ lecture, to be delivered by Associate Professor Geoffrey Rice later this month. 

The lecture titled How did Christchurch cope with the 1918 Influenza Pandemic? is the second in a series initiated by the Christchurch City Council and the University of Canterbury last year.

The inaugural lecture was presented by University of Canterbury Assistant Vice-Chancellor (Maori) Sir Tipene O’Regan and was a consideration of New Zealand’s contemporary race relations discourse.

This year the Canterbury History Foundation joins the University and the Council in hosting the lecture which is part of an annual series designed to feature prominent speakers addressing a range of issues of major importance to Christchurch.

Geoffrey Rice is an Associate Professor in the School of History at the University of Canterbury, a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, London, and secretary of the Canterbury Historical Association.

Though his teaching has been confined to European history, his recent publications have been mostly in New Zealand history. His latest publication is an updated and expanded second edition of his first academic monograph, Black November: the 1918 influenza pandemic in New Zealand (Canterbury University Press, 2005).

Based on extensive archival, oral and statistical research, this was the world’s first book on the 1918 pandemic to make comprehensive use of individual death certificate data for a whole country.

“This book is being published at a time of heightened international anxiety about the risk of another flu pandemic, from the H5N1 Asian bird flu. Facing a potential global pandemic naturally raises the questions: ‘How will we cope?’ and ‘How did we cope last time?’” says Professor Rice.

His lecture, based on his research for the book, will focus on Christchurch’s experience of the 1918 influenza pandemic. He will consider what lessons may be drawn from that experience to assist in combating a future influenza pandemic or similar “disease-disaster” here.

Mayor Garry Moore will also make some comments following the lecture, outlining pandemic planning currently under way in Christchurch, and how various agencies are working together to prepare for any future outbreak.

The free public lecture will be delivered on Tuesday 29 November 2005 at 5.30pm in the James Hay Theatre, Christchurch Town Hall.


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