NZ must take responsibility for Samoan measles catastrophe


NZ is responsible for the terrible measles outbreak that is roaring through Samoa

Samoa declared a state of emergency on Friday, making measles vaccinations mandatory and banning public gatherings involving children.

New Zealand is sending medical staff, vaccines and supplies to Samoa.

The government on Tuesday said a total of 1,174 cases of measles had been reported, with another 114 recorded since Monday. Approximately 98 percent of those cases were on Upolu, mostly concentrated around the Vaimauga West and Faleata West districts.

Ninety-two percent of cases were children under the age of five, the government said. In total, 189 people had been admitted to hospital in total.

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…NZ transmitted the disease to Samoa after it broke out here and this is not the first time NZ has been responsible for a disease outbreak in Samoa

On 7 November 1918, the New Zealand passenger and cargo ship Talune arrived at Apia from Auckland. On board were people suffering from pneumonic influenza, a highly infectious disease already responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths around the world. Although the Talune had been quarantined in Fiji, no such restrictions were imposed in Samoa. Sick passengers were allowed to disembark.

The disease spread rapidly through the islands. Samoa’s disorganised local health facilities and traumatised inhabitants were unable to cope with the magnitude of the disaster and the death toll rose with terrifying speed. Grieving families had no time to carry out traditional ceremonies for their loved ones. Bodies were wrapped in mats and collected by trucks for burial in mass graves.

The total number of deaths attributable to influenza was later estimated to have reached 8500, or 22% of the population. According to a 1947 United Nations report, it ranked as ‘one of the most disastrous epidemics recorded anywhere in the world during the present century, so far as the proportion of deaths to the population is concerned’.

Survivors blamed the New Zealand Administrator, Lieutenant-Colonel Robert Logan, for failing to quarantine Talune and for rejecting an offer of medical assistance from American Samoa. A Royal Commission called to enquire into the allegations found evidence of administrative neglect and poor judgement.

…and let’s be completely clear, while National attempt to blame unvaccinated beneficiaries for the current outbreak in NZ, the truth is that officials utterly ignored the warnings…

Ministry ignored advice to boost measles immunisation of teens, young adults

As measles cases continue to skyrocket in New Zealand, documents show the Ministry of Health failed to act on expert advice to prevent outbreaks.

…so we have a current measles outbreak that should never have happened that has spread to a country which we previously have infected with disease and caused enormous damage and NO ONE is being held responsible?

We have hundreds of thousands living in poverty in NZ and we don’t concede the impact of that level of poverty on public health, the fact that there was no available infrastructure to impede this misery is an indictment on our underfunded system and the poverty we deny.

It astounds me that like the State House meth hysteria, the crucial lack of social housing, the mental health failures, the abuse of prisoners and wards of the state – no one is being held accountable.

This isn’t about middle class anti-vaxxer yoga mums and lazy solo mothers, this is an abject failure of public health policy and it is shameful.


  1. The main enemy of the people in Samoa is the church. It sucks the people dry of money both here and on the Island then they have no money for medical aid. All travellers to and from the Islands should be required to be vaccinated . It is good NZ is helping with nurses but how come they do not send extra nurses to Northland and help the people out there . Could it be there is no brown points for Jacinda & Co in helping her own people

  2. Is New Zealand a neighbour in the Pacific?

    Your blog, Martyn Bradbury, very well associates responsibilities related to history and geography, the past and the present.
    Let me contribute with a short story.

    If one attends some of the few international conferences on climate change, you may observe that the participants (if they are not seated by alphabetic order) usually group together by geographic location, e.g. the representatives from Mekong countries sit together, those from the Caribbean, those from Arab countries, etc.

    This is not only because they are geographical neighbours, but also because typically they share the same or similar effects and impact from climate change.

    And then there are those from the Pacific Islands. Big men and women, some men wearing skirt-like garments, a jolly atmosphere around them. Easily identifiable as a common group.

    You stroll over to their tables and inquire: “Where is the Kiwi delegation, please?”

    They look at each other and chuckle. “The only all-blacks around is us”, says a formidable woman with a Vanuatu pin at her blouse, and everybody laughs.

    “No, I mean the delegation from New Zealand, where are they?”

    “They usually sit with their buddies”, says a gentleman holding a copy of the Post-Courier from Port Moresby in his hands, and points across the room.

    Glancing over the tables, you discover the delegations from China and from India. “No”, says the representative from PNG, “not the Asian groups, go along further”.

    In the distance you see the small flags of the US, the UK and Australia standing on a variety of tables. “Have a look over there, these high-tech stalls with the many laptops”, he grins.

    “By the way”, inquires the lady from Vanuatu, “are you from New Zealand, you sound somehow differently?”. “Yes, from Auckland”, I confirm, slightly uncomfortable because of the accent.

    “Don’t worry my friend”, declares the one in the middle of the group, with the gesture of a paramount chief, “when the sea-levels rise we will come with our canoes and pick you from the rubble of your yachts and cruise ships.”

    Again, great amusement around the tables.

    I walk over to the waiting laptops.

    Is New Zealand a neighbour in the Pacific, or not?

    If yes, we have to help Samoa.

  3. Did you know that: Quote A shocking new gene sequencing investigation has found that MMR vaccines are deliberately engineered to cause cancer as a repeat business model for Big Pharma, which manufactures vaccines and cancer treatment drugs for profit. Unquote.

        • No, no. Let the man speak. I want to see y’all defend each of yours position. You know people often talk a good game but some times lack conviction in their own argument, go paralysed and tacitly concede. So of you think medicine designed to control disease is really designed to cause cancer then I kind of interested ti see where this all goes.

        • could you face the 17 parents who have lost their children and say they did the right think as they will not get cancer

  4. I don’t think it is NZ fault the Samoa has the Measles. NZ should not allow people into NZ until they have been vaccinated including all the young babies being bought backwards and forwards around the world who can’t be vaccinated because they are too young, and Samoa should do the same to protect themselves from non vaccinated people.

    It’s unvaccinated people who are going between their often dual residents that are spreading the measles aka Samoans who live in NZ going back to Samoa.

    In NZ Plunket (like every organisation in NZ) is so busy trying to get donations and funding that some of the other issues like vaccinations are falling by the wayside. The idea that NZ doesn’t even have a government run system for infants is terrible, you can’t even get an obstetrician, have to leave hospital after a few hours of giving birth, and now people can’t even get a midwife committed through a pregnancy easily.

    NZ is asleep at the wheel for our worsening systems to help infants and parents.

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