Cemetery Conservation

Reading Inscriptions


This is the important part of the headstone. If you are having difficulty in reading the letters, we recommend that you do not attempt to clean the stone. To do so risks doing possible irreversible damage to the stone and the lettering. Refer to Photography and Genealogy.


Good light will always produce a better photograph. If you wish to photograph the headstone and inscription in a shaded position and you want the lettering to be readable it may be necessary to provide additional lighting. This can be done on a sunny day by using a mirror at an appropriate angle.


Full transcriptions of all headstones in New Zealand have been recorded by the New Zealand Society of Genealogists, and are available from most public libraries and family history centres. The local cemetery authority maintains a database of all burials in their area of responsibility.

Things you must NOT do

Do not use a wire brush on stonework. It will do much damage to the surface of the stone and encourage the growth of moss and lichen.

Do not apply any proprietary sealer to the stone. Stone must be able to breath and allow air and water to pass through.

Gravestone rubbing is not recommended because so many gravestones are made from soft sandstones and limestone that are easily damaged.

Please use the link bar on the right to read more information on how to conserve cemeteries.