Pos­si­ble memo­rial for ashes

Central Leader - - CONVERSATIONS -

Descen­dants of in­terred ashes at a West Auck­land ceme­tery are be­ing urged to con­nect with Auck­land Coun­cil.

Waikumete Ceme­tery is look­ing into cre­at­ing a suit­able memo­rial for nearly 1800 peo­ple whose ashes are in­terred in vaults near the Chapel of Faith in the Oaks, and wants to hear from fam­i­lies in­volved.

Cam­paigner Terry Fer­gus­son set up a Face­book page called Hon­our the 1800 and wants Auck­land Coun­cil to read­dress the ‘mis­treat­ment’ ashes.

He is ag­grieved that the ashes were moved in the 1970s and placed in a name­less vault.

‘‘The fact that other fam­i­lies are com­ing for­ward, about their own loved ones be­ing flung into this mass name­less grave, shows me that this ac­tion by coun­cil is hurt­ful and up­set­ting,’’ Fer­gus­son says.

A rel­a­tive of Fer­gus­son’s is among the 1800 ashes in­terred and he says if his fam­ily was made aware of the de­ci­sion to shift the ashes they would have col­lected them so he could rest with his whaka­papa in the Hokianga.

Auck­land ceme­ter­ies man­ager Cather­ine Moore says fol­low­ing Fer­gus­son’s cam­paign, calls have been made to open up the vaults and re­turn ashes to rel­a­tives but she says a num­ber of is­sues need to be con­sid­ered first.

‘‘These were un­claimed ashes that date back as far as the 1920s that were care­fully laid to rest in a vault in the late 1970s – nearly 40 years ago now – by the Waikumete Restora­tion Trust and the then Auck­land City Coun­cil which man­aged the ceme­tery.

‘‘This was in­tended to be the fi­nal rest­ing place of the ashes that, de­spite ex­ten­sive ad­ver­tis­ing and news sto­ries at the time, re­mained un­claimed.’’

She says open­ing the vaults could cause dam­age to the ashes and boxes and la­bels may have de­te­ri­o­rated mak­ing iden­ti­fi­ca­tion ex­tremely dif­fi­cult.

Moore says sev­eral descen­dants have con­tacted the ceme­tery to en­quire about their loved ones’ ashes.

PHOTO: SI­MON SMITH

Auck­land Coun­cil says a va­ri­ety of is­sues need to be con­sid­ered be­fore open­ing the vault of in­terred ashes of nearly 1800 peo­ple.

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