New Zealand Walk: 160 years of his­tory - Take a walk through a beau­ti­ful gar­den

Walking New Zealand - - Contents - By Judy Eva

In Oc­to­ber 1861the Taranaki Pro­vin­cial Coun­cil set aside 24 acres (9.4 hectares) of land and es­tab­lished the first pub­lic burial ground in New Ply­mouth. This ceme­tery is the rest­ing ground for the last eight vic­tims of Ti­tokowaru’s war.

On the 13th of Fe­bru­ary 1869 a Maori war party of Ngati Man­iopoto led by Wetere Te Rerenga killed all three men, a woman, three chil­dren and also the We­se­lyn mis­sion­ary John Whitely who ar­rived shortly af­ter­wards at the iso­lated Pukearuhe re­doubt sit­u­ated at White­cliffs near Ton­ga­porutu some 57 kilo­me­tres (35 miles) from New Ply­mouth. There is a large head­stone in mem­ory of them in this ceme­tery.

This was the fi­nal act of the Taranaki wars. There are two sep­a­rate mon­u­ments at the ceme­tery to com­mem­o­rate peo­ple who died in the in­ci­dent.

With the abo­li­tion of the Pro­vin­cial Gov­ern­ment in 1876 the ceme­tery came un­der the con­trol of the New Ply­mouth Bor­ough Coun­cil. To­day it is con­trolled by the New Ply­mouth Dis­trict Coun­cil.

The acreage is di­vided into the old sys­tem that was preva­lent in those days of each re­li­gious de­nom­i­na­tion with their own sep­a­rate area’s. In 1934 th­ese were all dis­banded due to dis­or­ga­ni­za­tion. There is a large in­for­ma­tion sig­nage board in the ceme­tery show­ing dif­fer­ent coloured area’s as to where th­ese dif­fer­ent de­nom­i­na­tion graves still re­main.

The ceme­tery con­tains the com­mon­wealth war graves of 12 men who served in the First World War and 19 men who served in the Sec­ond World War. There is also a large area of Re­turned Ser­vice­man’s graves and also those of the early in­fantry men along with many old New Ply­mouth iden­ti­ties.

In 1984 a gar­den of re­mem­brance was es­tab­lished in hon­our of all the still born ba­bies that had pre­vi­ously been buried in an ear­lier era in one large grave at the rear of the ceme­tery and left with no iden­ti­fi­ca­tion as to where it or they were. It is still re­mains an uniden­ti­fied

large square of clay un­der a cherry tree that flow­ers in the sum­mer. There is now a lovely black mar­ble wall with the names of many of those ba­bies on plaques one of them my own daugh­ter who was still­born in 1965. The New Ply­mouth Dis­trict Coun­cil in their sym­pa­thy for what had oc­curred many years ago and the way in which th­ese ba­bies had been treated kindly do­nated the memo­riam and so the Gar­den of Re­mem­brance was es­tab­lished.

There was a lovely old wooden villa

a ceme­tery chapel on the grounds that was trans­ferred to an­other area of New Ply­mouth in 1951 and de­mol­ished in 1973 due to de­te­ri­o­ra­tion which was a shame as it was cer­tainly a piece of his­tory gone for­ever.

Early buri­als were 10 feet down, later 8 feet un­til the mid sev­en­ties and were dug by hand un­til nine years ago. Many of the older grave fronts have col­lapsed in­ward due to the type of stone that was used in those days but the later ones are now made with con­crete.

There is also the large tomb of Abra­ham Wal­ley Mo­hamed Sala­man a world renowned herbal­ist. He had to ob­tain spe­cial per­mis­sion to build it which he did and com­pleted in the late 1940’s.

The out­side is con­structed of painted con­crete and is ap­prox­i­mately 15 feet square. It has a large square blue dome on top and four blue plinths one on each cor­ner which serve to ven­ti­late and light the tomb. The en­trance has a locked iron rail double gate and double wooden doors, each with a star and moon cres­cent hol­lowed out. There used to be two clay urns sit­ting be­tween the gate and the door with BISMULLAH en­graved on their rims. They have now been placed in­side for safety be­cause of van­dals.

There are three mar­ble steps lead­ing down from the door into the tomb. The lower eight feet of wall and side cof­fin sup­ports are in 12 inch green mar­ble tiles. The top half of the wall and dome are painted the same colour green.

The cof­fin is oak with three brass han­dles on each side. A brass plaque is on the top and reads ABRA­HAM WAL­LEY SALA­MAN DIED 8TH FEB 1941. On the floor scat­tered around the room are sev­eral vases and a green clay frog ap­prox­i­mately 12 inches high.

The only light into the room is through the door. The tomb is no longer open to the pub­lic.

This ceme­tery would have to be one of the most beau­ti­ful in New Zealand. It is well main­tained, an ab­so­lute de­light to wan­der through and to learn about the early his­tory on the grave­stones some of which are beau­ti­ful mar­ble fig­urines and old wrought iron fence rail­ings en­twined in creep­ing plants and old roses. There is so much his­tory and so many sto­ries to be told. A view from the top of the hill is spec­tac­u­lar show­ing both the moun­tain and the sea. It is like wan­der­ing through a beau­ti­ful gar­den that has been main­tained by ded­i­cated vol­un­teers.

An added bonus is the fact that it is sit­u­ated be­tween two amaz­ing walk­ways. It sits above the pop­u­lar Te Henui cy­cling/ walk­ing track and on the right up on the top of the rear hill in the ceme­tery the old Te Henui Walk­ing Track which is sep­a­rated from the main track by the river which flows be­tween

the both tracks that take you out to Cum­ber­land Street exit and both ap­prox­i­mately an hour’s walk. The ceme­tery can be ac­cessed from the main Te Henui walk­way from the east end of the beach and is sign­posted fur­ther along the walk­way.

This amaz­ing ceme­tery is beau­ti­ful in all sea­sons, espe­cially spring, sum­mer and au­tumn. Win­ter has its own charm as well.

Make it a des­ti­na­tion and on your bucket list next time you visit New Ply­mouth.

The main en­trance is sit­u­ated at the in­ter­sec­tion of Wat­son and 173 Lemon Street where the me­mo­rial gates were in­stalled in 1924. It is just south of the New Ply­mouth Girls high school. There is plenty of park­ing just fol­low the road right around the ceme­tery.

There are no toi­lets on the grounds and the ceme­tery is dog friendly as long as they are un­der con­trol. Take your cam­era and en­joy. Time for this am­ble could be sev­eral hours or more de­pend­ing on your in­ter­est in read­ing the in­scrip­tions on the head stones and en­joy­ing the rus­tic char­ac­ter of an old lovely ceme­tery. There is an evening guided walk through there each Jan­uary dur­ing the school hol­i­days.

160 years of his­tory - Take a walk through a beau­ti­ful gar­den Above: Rear of the ceme­tery the R.S.A. plots. The sign­post at the bot­tom leads down to the Te Henui Walk­way which is on the other side of the trees.

Above left: A rus­tic path walk. Above right: Blos­soms in Spring. Above mid­dle right; Flow­ers bloom be­side toomb­stones.

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