|Appeal for help to take care of Wairo's past.|
|Saturday, 14 July 2012 15:18|
The final resting place of those who helped build our community has become the focus for a small team of Wairoa District Council staff intent on ensuring the graves of the old Wairoa Cemetery are respectfully restored and marked.
Towering angels and crosses attached to crumbling bases and disintegrating, unreinforced concrete edging have become a safety concern, creating a need for action to remedy the situation.
The challenge for staff is that in many cases family links have become broken, leaving no-one to contact about individual graves – some of which date back to the early 1800s.
Out of respect, staff are appealing to the public to determine if there is anyone who wishes to come forward to take responsibility for those graves that need work done.
Engineering Administration Officer Nicky Bradley said this does not necessarily mean people have to pay for anything, or do the work themselves.
"It's more about making people aware that these graves have been neglected and we need to make them safe. Families must have the opportunity to take care of their ancestors," she said.
Ms Bradley has compiled a list of the names on all the graves affected. In cases where the name has worn off, written records have been used. Click here to view the list or call into council offices on Queen Street. Photographs will be taken of any graves requiring work before it is carried out.
Over the decades, some gaps have appeared in the records, which creates a problem where headstones have disappeared altogether, and all that remains is a depression in the ground.
Of particular concern are several clusters of children's graves. Some are named, but many are not. With the cemetery now mapped using satellite technology, the task of updating the records has become easier, but council staff are also appealing to the public to come forward with any history of the graves.
"There are people in our community who know so much about our history. Our hope is that these people will be able to help us out with putting some names to these graves, so that those who have gone before us can be remembered respectfully and with care," Ms Bradley said.
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