During the early years of the twentieth century, many workers from India were recruited by the Colonial Sugar Refining Co to work in Fiji as indentured labour in the sugar plantations or in the production of bananas or copra. It was a large-scale exercise. A news report in the Dominion on 20 June 1910 mentioned that ‘about 20,000 Indian coolies have been introduced to Fiji’ while a later report, published in the Evening Post on 4 January 1921, reported that by then, the number of Indians in Fiji had grown to roughly 80,000. Typically, the indentures offered by the Colonial Sugar Refining Co lasted for five years. At the end of that time, many would opt to remain in Fiji, but others would make their way to Australia or New Zealand.
Four Indian men died in Wellington during the influenza epidemic and were buried in the Public section of Karori Cemetery. It is most likely they had been participants in this migratory pattern, and were perhaps continuing to try and make more money to take or send home to India by working in New Zealand. The racist sentiments of the time made them feel less than welcome, and employment options would have been few.
They all lived in the poorest streets of Te Aro in central Wellington, where the infection and death rates were highest. The four men were Dhadia BHAGA, Parbhia BHAGA, Duhlla BHULA and Ravji FAKIR.