The Trustees have
pleasure in reporting to you on the progress of the Trust in its first
year of operation.
After many months of
discussion amongst members of Dunedin North Rotary Club and Dunedin
City Council Community and Recreation Services staff, the Historic
Cemeteries Conservation Trust was formed as a charitable trust in
January 2002. The present trustees are: Stewart Harvey (Chairman),
Financial Controller, Aotea Jones Group Ltd; Ian Barber, Lecturer
in Archaeology, University of Otago; Brian Williscroft QSO, Presbyterian
minister; David White, Marketing Consultant, Integra Marketing; Peter
Holland, Emeritus Professor, University of Otago; and Terry Hearn,
The formation of the
Trust arose out of a growing concern that as families are formed,
re-formed, and disappear, as people continue to move within New Zealand,
and as funerary practices and customs continue to change, an increasing
number of New Zealands cemeteries are deteriorating. Whereas
in North America, Australia, and in many countries in Europe, cemetery
conservation has been accepted as a community responsibility and is
widely undertaken, in New Zealand both the theory and practice of
cemetery conservation are largely unknown. Rather the notion endures
that the care and conservation of cemeteries is more a family or private
than a community or civic responsibility. It is this notion which
the Trust seeks to change, to encourage communities throughout New
Zealand to recognize that their cemeteries are important cultural
and historical symbols and resources.
The Trust has
elected to begin a nation-wide effort by having conservation plans
drawn up for two of Dunedins oldest and neglected cemeteries,
the Northern and Southern Cemeteries. Proposals for conservation plans
have been secured from five consultants in Australia and New Zealand.
It is intended that these plans will form models for application and
implementation in cemetery conservation throughout New Zealand, with
the Trust offering advice, guidance, and encouragement to local authorities,
cemetery trustees, and friends of cemeteries organizations. The Trustees
have discussed the applications and expect to make a final decision
and announcement when funding is confirmed.
The successful tenderer
will be required, with respect to each cemetery, to consider three
1. What is its historical
and cultural value?
2. What is its condition?
3. What needs to be
done to conserve it?
The tenderer will also
be required to prepare a public consultation programme, to ensure
that the community as a whole as well as specific stakeholders are
given the opportunity to participate in and contribute to the preparation
of the conservation plans.
The Trust is anxious
that these plans, the first of such detail for New Zealand, are prepared
by an acknowledged expert in cemetery conservation practice, and we
are now seeking to raise the funds to enable us to commission the
Conservation Plans. It is pleasing to report that all major funders
we have approached have expressed support for the concept and are
considering our proposal.
Northern and Southern Cemeteries have suffered over many years from
neglect and vandalism, and are in danger of suffering continuing degradation
in our time. In a move designed to arrest the trend we have begun
recruiting working parties.
Since August 2001 the
Rotary Club of Dunedin North has been involved in monthly working
parties in the Northern Cemetery cutting out wilding trees and other
rogue vegetation. They are now involved with regular visits to maintain
In the Southern Cemetery
since September 2002 we have organised similar working parties to
again cut out wilding trees and rogue vegetation. Members of Friends
of Maitland Street, New Zealand Society of Genealogists Dunedin Branch,
Dunedin Amenities Society, Department of Conservation, Conservation
Corps, and others have supported these parties. We acknowledge valuable
assistance from students of John McGlashan College, and staff of Westpac
Trust Moray Place Branch.
The statistics are as follows:
Number of working parties
Number of 4-tonne truckloads
taken to dump by Task Force Green
At an average attendance
at each 3-hour working party of 12 persons this means that the cemeteries
have benefited from 648 volunteer-hours on this work.
We are close to
finalisation of the first of a series of Cemetery Tours designed to
raise peoples awareness of the significant heritage resource
which is contained in an historic cemetery. Using biographical notes,
which have been researched by Terry Hearn, the raconteurs Kelvin Wright,
David Corballis, Brian Williscroft and Tom Brooking guided a group
of Rotarians from Dunedin North Rotary Club through a trial series
of selected graves. The feedback was excellent and we are now proceeding
to initiate a regular series of full tours beginning in the spring.
The themes of the tours will be varied from time to time to maintain
the interest of the public. There will be a charge for these tours
and the money raised will be used for cemetery conservation. The first
tour will be based on 23 graves of prominent Dunedin citizens
We have produced
two high-quality colour brochures which were very kindly printed free
of charge by Hope and Sons.
One brochure explains
why cemeteries should be conserved, and the other outlines to interested
parties how they can conserve their own family graves. These brochures
have been placed in stands in the Dunedin Public Library, Otago Settlers
Museum, Department of Conservation, and Hocken Library. They have
been well received and requests for them have been come from right
around New Zealand.
We have in mind to
produce one more with the title "Who we are and what we do",
which will outline the Trusts raison detre.
Dunedin City Council
in Dunedin are managed and maintained by the Dunedin City Council.
Funds are drawn from burial fees and from ratepayers. DCC attitude
is that the maintenance of individual plots and headstones (other
than those managed in perpetuity) is the responsibility of the owners
and their descendants. Unfortunately in the case of older historic
cemeteries the families of those buried there have become scattered
and fragmented so that in reality families carry out very little maintenance
work. It is our contention that the community must progressively assume
responsibility for conservation of historic cemeteries.
DCC have been very
supportive in our formative stages and one of our first moves was
to sign a Partnership Agreement with them. They continue to provide
us with every assistance and their Cemeteries staff work closely with
Besides the on-ground support
outlined above we have received the following funds:
Dunedin North Rotary Club
- grant $1,000
Dunedin North Rotary Club
Sale of firewood from tree cut down in cemetery $610
Waitaki Rotary Club
- donation $100
We very much appreciate
the support of the Rotary Club of Dunedin North who have been supporting
us since well before our inception.
We maintain active
liaison with, and receive endorsement from, The New Zealand Historic
Places Trust, New Zealand Monumental Masons Association, Ministry
of Culture and Heritage. We have good relationships with The National
Trust of Australia, and both their Melbourne and Sydney Cemeteries
Officers have been very helpful.
Dr. Alexander Trapeznik of the History Department at the University
of Otago we have recently arranged for one of his students to conduct
research on Cemeteries in New Zealand for his M.A. thesis. It is our
hope that this will be suitable for publishing as a definitive work
on the topic "Cemeteries their role in New Zealands
We believe that
it is essential that we introduce younger people to the historical
resource which resides in our historic cemeteries. We are at the early
stages of developing policy on this area but every indication is favourable.
We believe that by interesting them in conservation vandalism will
We have taken opportunities to
speak at two Heritage Seminars and to various other groups.
We are keen to
encourage the establishment of Friends groups for each historic cemetery.
With their focus, Friends groups have a vital role to play in cemetery
It has been an
exciting and memorable year. We have all enjoyed the challenges of
creating something from a blank canvas.
My sincere thanks for
the wise and valued counsel of my fellow Trustees during the year.
Their experience has enabled us to progress all matters in a measured
and thoroughly professional manner.
24 April 2003