Plans to liven up ne­glected ceme­tery get off to a fly­ing start

Central Leader - - FRONT PAGE - By JESS ETHERIDGE

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.’’

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