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Historic Poverty Bay and the East Coast, N.I., N.Z.



William Grice Sherratt (born in Staffordshire in 1862) was trained in sheepfarming in Hawke's Bay, and, in 1881, settled in Poverty Bay. With C. D. Bennett, he established the mercantile firm of Bennett and Sherratt, which was taken over by the Gisborne S.F.M. and M. Co. Ltd. His public service included: Mayor of Gisborne (5 years), Chairman of page 417 Cook County Council (5 years), Chairman of Gisborne Harbour Board (4 years), and Chairman of Cook Hospital Board (8 years). He died on 15 November, 1943. Mrs. Sherratt, who also took a prominent part in all patriotic movements, was awarded the M.B.E. in 1918.

Margrave Thomas Trafford (born at Snitterby, Lincolnshire, in 1869) became an early settler in the Hangaroa district, and, later, took up land in Waimata Valley. When he retired from farming he settled at Waiohika. He was a member of Cook Hospital Board for 24 years and its chairman from 1929 till his death in June, 1947, served on Gisborne Harbour Board for 12 years, was a member of the East Coast Rabbit Board for 21 years, and, for several terms, sat on the Power Board.

Howard Kenway (born at Yardley, near Birmingham, in 1863) received his business training with Rowntrees, of Scarborough. In 1883 he joined his brothers on a sheep station in the Waimata district. Subsequently he took over the management of the Kiore Co.'s properties. He served as chairman of Cook County Council, as well as chairman of the Hospital Board, and was a staunch supporter of the Y.M.C.A. and all patriotic movements. He died on 2 June, 1939.

Memorable Epidemics.

An epidemic of la grippe occurred in Poverty Bay circa 1810 during the siege of Matai pa, and the struggle had to be abandoned. The attackers (T'Aitanga-a-Hauiti) were followed back towards Uawa by a force of T'Aitanga-a-Mahaki, and some who were too weak to escape were slain at Turihaua and others at Waiomoko and Pouawa. The death rate at Tokomaru Bay was so heavy that the victims had to be hurriedly buried in the sandhills. When an eruptive complaint which, it was feared, might be smallpox, spread among the Poverty Bay natives in April, 1845, William Williams vaccinated 200 of them. Grave epidemics of influenza and typhoid fever occurred in 1847.

In 1854 measles was carried to Wairoa by some Bay of Plenty visitors for the tangi in memory of the chief Apatu, who was drowned in the previous year. The malady quickly spread to Poverty Bay and the East Coast. It was followed by an equally grave epidemic of dysentery. Influenza raged both in 1855 and 1860, and there was also an epidemic of typhoid in the latter year. In 1875 measles carried off a large number of wairoa natives.

Between July and October, 1891, typhoid in a severe form broke out on the East Coast, causing scores of deaths. There were 72 fatal cases in Waiapu alone. A severe outbreak of typhoid fever in Waiapu in March, 1911, had its origin at Hiruharama. Sixty cases of diphtheria (including 28 in Gisborne) were reported in Poverty Bay in May, 1917.

During the dreadful epidemic of pneumonic influenza in November, 1918, the steamer services to and from Gisborne were stopped; all buildings (except churches) in which large numbers of people were accustomed to congregate were closed, the banks did not open for ten days, tangis were prohibited, business premises were closed at 3 p.m. each day, and food for invalids was distributed by volunteer drivers. A Vigilance Committee at Wairoa advertised that callers there would require to be disinfected and medically examined, and that suspects would be quarantined for five days. Visitors were also warned that no accommodation would be made available to them, and that they were on no account to approach a garage for petrol. Among 5,959 deaths in the Dominion only 58 were notified at Gisborne. Most of the victims came within the 30–40 age group, and the percentage of deaths among men was slightly higher than among women.

Among 950 cases of infantile paralysis in the Dominion in 1948 only 23 occurred in the East Cape Health District.