Plans to liven up neglected cemetery get off to a flying start
MONARCH butterflies could soon be breathing new life into Hillsborough Cemetery.
The Monarch Butterfly New Zealand Trust wants to put swan plants in to rejuvenate the cemetery.
Puketapapa Local Board’s Michael Wood says the cemetery has been ‘‘badly neglected’’ despite being a valuable asset.
He says the board is looking at funding for a volunteer group which would brighten up the cemetery. The trust put the idea forward late last year.
Hillsborough Cemetery has been on the board’s radar for some time as needing a makeover so the timing was right, he says.
Resident Janet Wade says the cemetery should be rejuvenated and looked after because of its historic value.
Notable politicians, soldiers and early settlers are buried there, including stuntman Bobby Leach who slipped on an orange peel in 1926 and fractured his leg. He died as a result of an infection.
Wade says native birds and lizards call the cemetery home and need plant-life to survive there.
‘‘I think we basically owe it to our predecessors . . . to maintain our cemeteries.’’
But safety improvements are needed before it can be used as an open space, Wade says.
Neighbours told the Central Leader last year they found broken bottles left in the cemetery by people using is as a place to drink and socialise at night. There have also been reports of people taking and dealing drugs there.
A ‘‘carfew’’ was proposed last August to ban parking without legitimate reason on Clifton Rd between 10pm and 6am.
Wade says some of the trees lining the cemetery along Hillsborough Rd will need to be thinned to curb anti-social behaviour in the cemetery.
A volunteer group will see community groups, such as schools and churches, work together to deter vandals, Wade says.
Wood says there is a demand for more community volunteer groups for residents to join.
‘‘People are falling over themselves to come forward. They feel like they’re contributing, they make new connections with people in their community so there are benefits for the site and for the people around it.’’