FROM TIMARU DISTRICT COUNCIL
During 2002, Council was advised by a grounds maintenance contractor
that a headstone had toppled onto a ride on mower unit.
As a consequence, visits were made to the six cemeteries the Council
administers and where possible, any unsafe monuments were placed
on the ground. However, in the Timaru Cemetery alone, there were
approximately 45 headstones that were in an unsafe state, but requiring
mechanical lifting to fix.
At this stage a review of a number of issues (including headstone
deterioration) was undertaken by a Committee comprising councillors,
community board members and council staff.
One of the recommendations from the review was that $4,000 should
be allocated from the Contingency Fund to make immediate structural
repairs to the 45 headstones which were identified as being unstable.
A donation of $3,000 was received from the South Canterbury Historical
Society and the combined total of $7,000 was used to start the headstone
reinstatement. A further amount of $7,000 was included in the Cemeteries
budget during the last financial year.
To date these modest funds have allowed us to use services from
our three local monumental masons to work on approximately 350 headstones.
The majority have been able to be reinstated to ‘as before’,
but a small proportion which were significantly broken has been
re-laid horizontal in a ‘jigsaw’ configuration.
These repairs have only been of a structural nature and do not include
lettering or decoration repairs.
With respect to headstone work, the rural cemeteries of Geraldine,
Pleasant Point, Temuka, Arundel and Pareora West are practically
This year the focus will return to Timaru where there are a significant
number of headstones requiring work.
Sometime in the future, consideration will be given to the tidying
of gravesite surrounds. At that stage local interest groups and
service clubs may become involved to speed up the process.
Whilst the headstones are the families’ responsibility
to maintain, a legal opinion sought by this Council suggests the
headstones are a fixture, therefore defaulting in ownership to the
Rather than try the onerous task of contacting descendants and the
delays involved, this Council has adopted a proactive stance and
is progressing with headstone reinstatements. Hopefully this approach
will eliminate any future need to remove broken pieces of headstones
from their original sites.
by Neville Rawstorn
Parks Administration Officer
Timaru District Council
Telephone 03 684 8199
Fax 03 684 2206
Top of Page
Our inaugural tour was held in conjunction with the Lawrence
Country Fair in November and attended by a reasonable sized audience
in brilliant sunshine. We included the majority of our Friends group
on this tour so that we could all familiarise ourselves with the
procedure. Our selection of 14 graves included miners, farmers,
a doctor and other notable community members. These people were
connected to each other in that they all played a valuable role
in the early settlement of our district. We enjoyed recounting the
history we had discovered through our research. We especially enjoyed
the discovery during the tour that we had with us family descendants
of some of our chosen 'occupants' and we were able to add to our
by Jeanette Paterson, Lawrence Service Centre &
Picton Cemetery Restoration Assessment
Top of Page
1. Picton Cemetery contains a large number of concrete plot structures
which are in an advanced state of collapse due to their age, inadequate
construction materials and the hill-slope nature of the cemetery.
2. While [Council’s policy is that] responsibility for burial
plots and any monuments or structures they contain rests with the
family of those interred, the situation in Picton, along with Tuamarina,
Havelock and Omaka to a lesser degree, is an issue requiring careful
consideration by Council owing to the health and safety risks posed
by some structures and the public perception that Council may not
be maintaining what is an historic cemetery to adequate standards.
3. In the past our policy has been to not undertake any work on
burial plots and structures other than to simply make them safe
where a hazard to the general public is identified. This approach
has drawn some criticism of Council in the past owing to an expectation
in some quarters that we should maintain and restore the older burial
plots given their historical importance.
4. This criticism can be expected to increase as deterioration of
older gravesites quickens over time.
5. Given the number of plots that fall into this category and the
likely high cost of restoration work on any one of them, it is important
for Council to gain a clear understanding of the issue and to make
a conscious decision as to whether it will provide for either restoration
or make the site safe by demolishing collapsed and/or unstable structures.
Accordingly it is proposed that a comprehensive survey should be
undertaken of the Picton Cemetery to identify the following:
1. Number and location of historic burial plots of significance
– age, structure, design, size, construction and adornment.
2 Condition ranking –
1 - Good/Stable
2 - Deteriorating/Stable
3 - Deteriorating/Unstable
4 - Collapsed/Stable
5 - Collapsed/Hazardous
3. Works and cost to restore.
4. Works and cost to ‘make safe’.
6. This assessment has enabled Council to better understand and
quantify the situation in the Picton Cemetery in respect of physical
condition and of potential hazards associated with the more historic
gravesites. It has also identified the financial implications in
respect of either restoration or making the site safe. The next
step is to make public its chosen policy on management of such sites
within our cemeteries and, if appropriate, allocate funding for
any works required.
Contributed by Russell Montgomery, Reserves and Amenities Supervisor,
Marlborough District Council
Telephone 03 578 5249, Email email@example.com
Interested parties have decided that some of the historic graves
in the Ettrick (Moa Flat) Cemetery should be conserved. We are seeking
funding support for them and will give advice on appropriate methods
Greenspace Unit of the Christchurch City Council, in conjunction
with the Urban Design and Heritage Team, and with the encouragement
of the Historic Cemeteries Conservation Trust of New Zealand, are
in the process of commissioning a Conservation Plan for Addington
Cemetery. The cemetery was established in 1858 and is a Group 2
listed heritage item in the City Plan. Information on the history
of the cemetery and the people buried there can be found on the
Christchurch City Libraries website http://library.christchurch.org.nz/Guides/Cemeteries/Addington/
It is hoped that the plan could be completed by the end of August
this year, and that Conservation Plans for more of the city’s
cemeteries will follow.
interpretation panels have recently been installed in the Linwood
Cemetery. A large panel at the entrance includes an aerial view
of the large sprawling cemetery to enable easier navigation to areas
and plots. A number of smaller panels are situated on main paths
and bring attention to aspects of the cemetery’s history and
prominent people buried nearby. The local Friends of the Cemetery
group have been very active, and are currently researching the design
of the original gates to the cemetery to inform a proposal for new
gates to raise the profile of the presently easily overlooked main
Assistant Heritage Planner
Urban Design and Heritage
Christchurch City Council
Direct Dial 9416388
The final draft of the Conservation Plans for the Northern and Southern
Cemeteries has been approved by the Dunedin City Community and Recreation
Services Officers, and the NZ Historic Places Trust.
We are now drawing up Work Plans for discussion with Dunedin City
which will give us a detailed action plan for the future.
Work is underway on headstones in the Southern Cemetery to implant
new pins and stand up selected headstones. >From our observations
it is very hard and demanding work but the end result looks great.
We are in the process of revamping our tours with the addition of
new biographical material and will offer these new tours in late
February of March
Stories in Stone
Our gravestone biographies and stories from local and Otago cemeteries
continue to fascinate many of the readers of the Otago Daily Times.
Each time we have missed an issue for some reason people are on
the telephone to the ODT asking when it will resume. There is a
growing fascination with our history and obviously we have something
Tip of the Month Top
Waterblasting and sandblasting have no place in cemetery conservation;
they cause much erosion of the stone and blow out the lead lettering.
Application of bleach (sodium hypochlorite based) products is very
damaging to marble headstones, and as well they make the stones
stand out like new teeth amongst the aged ambience of the other
stones. Ambience in an historic cemetery is very attractive and
should be retained.
“Best Practice Guidelines” are now on our website.
Memorial to Robert Arthur Lawson, Architect.
Top of Page
the nationally significant contribution of architect R.A.Lawson
to Dunedin’s built heritage, we have initiated a project to
raise a fitting memorial to Lawson on his grave in the Northern
Cemetery where there is at present no family headstone.
New Zealand Master Monumental Masons Association have agreed to
contribute to the cost of supplying the stone, form the footing,
engrave the memorial, and erect the stones, as part of their celebration
of 60 years as a professional trade association. The balance of
the cost has been contributed by the Lawson family, the NZ Institute
of Architects, Southern Branch, and New Zealand Historic Places
Trust, Otago Branch, McKay Bequest Fund.
design, in the form of a grey/green granite obelisk, has been approved
and accepted by the Lawson family. The dedication and unveiling
is scheduled for May 2005.
National Conference October 2005
Top of Page
are planning to hold a national conference in October for all cemetery
managers (local authority, church, private), monumental masons,
and conservation and heritage consultants. There will be visiting
cemetery conservation authorities speaking and advising, site visits
for practical applications, and development of best practice methods.
Naturally there will be a social side too. More details soon.