Ceme­tery now a rose gar­den

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By KRIS DANDO

It’s the per­fect time to stop and smell the roses.

The burial ground be­low St Al­ban’s Church in Pau­ata­hanui might be a who’s who of the area’s his­toric fam­i­lies – fa­mil­iar names like Bradey, Gray, Flighty and Stace are in­terred there – but at this time of year, it is what’s hap­pen­ing above ground that holds promi­nence.

The ceme­tery at Pau­ata­hanui dates back to 1856, when Thomas Hol­lis Stace do­nated an acre to the com­mu­nity for a burial ground. Early set­tlers to New Zealand brought rose cut­tings with them from Bri­tain and when a fam­ily mem­ber died, of­ten planted a rose by their grave. The tra­di­tion dates back to the early days of Chris­tian­ity.

In the lat­ter part of last cen­tury, the Pau­ata­hanui burial ground be­came over­grown with weeds and lit­ter abounded.

As part of a Keep Porirua Beau­ti­ful project in 1991, a group of five lo­cal women spear­headed a project to clean it up and plant roses again.

Work­ing par­ties have since been held reg­u­larly, with lo­cal vol­un­teers aided by mem­bers of Welling­ton Her­itage Roses and the Rose So­ci­ety to keep the project go­ing. Vol­un­teers have in­tro­duced new ‘‘old’’ roses and now there are more than 160 roses in the ground and 90 va­ri­eties – many known for their strong scent and har­di­ness, the lat­ter re­quired due to the burial ground’s ex­posed na­ture.

To­day, es­pe­cially in early sum­mer, the burial ground is not a som­bre place but dec­o­rated in colour as the roses bloom.

Porirua City Coun­cil is pre­par­ing a brochure on the her­itage roses. Bio­di­ver­sity and hor­ti­cul­ture of­fi­cer Chris Free­man said as the roses come from orig­i­nal plant­ings, they are part of Pau­ata­hanui and Porirua’s ‘‘liv­ing his­tory’’. Vis­it­ing the site should be on vis­i­tors and lo­cals’ ‘‘things to do’’ list, he said.

‘‘This is the time of year you want to be com­ing for a look. It’s fan­tas­tic up here at the moment. If you’re vis­it­ing the area, a quick walk up the hill and you’re sur­rounded by this his­tory and these roses.’’

Vol­un­teers Sharon Evans and Rose­mary Pat­ter­son have given count­less hours of their own time plant­ing and li­ais­ing with PCC over cur­rent and fu­ture needs.

Ms Pat­ter­son has kept records since 1991 and says 2850 man-hours have been vol­un­teered in that time, of­ten by peo­ple from Kapiti and the Hutt Val­ley work­ing along­side lo­cals.

Spring time is the busiest, but plenty of other oc­ca­sions are spent plant­ing, prun­ing and pre­par­ing, ‘‘just to keep the place tick­ing over’’.

She be­lieves there has been 130 hours spent on the roses this spring and agrees ‘‘now is the time to go [for a look].’’

Ms Evans said the roses all flower at the same time and look­great.

‘‘They drape beau­ti­fully over the graves, giv­ing the place lots of char­ac­ter.’’

Rosy time: Porirua City Coun­cil bio­di­ver­sity and hor­ti­cul­ture of­fi­cer Chris Free­man agrees there is no bet­ter time to get to the his­toric Pau­ata­hanui burial ground in or­der to see the fa­mous her­itage roses.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.