Waikumete Cemetery

People may not think of cemeteries as typically nice places to visit but there is a certain beauty and peacefulness about them that cannot be found anywhere else… With 70,000+ graves dating from 1886, Waikumete Cemetery is the largest cemetery in the Southern Hemisphere and after an hour in one of the older sections I hadn’t come across any sign of life except for some rabbits…

The new plots are well maintained and are beautiful in their own right, but the old unkempt and historic areas are more interesting to explore, the terrain is uneven and close to the bush and stream… it’s muddy and overgrown,  the graves have rusty fencing, sunken in concrete tombs, and there are looming statues of closed-eyed angels that I have nightmares about thanks to Dr Who…

Truthfully not everyone could afford a headstone or marker for their loved one, and while the stones look to be laid out sporadically at first – there are reasons for the unmarked graves.   Some could be the ‘undesirable’ souls of the past who were not deemed worthy of remembrance, or the unmarked graves of those that had no family, and for some the original markers have been lost, vandalized or rotted away over time, so don’t be fooled by the grassy areas, there are many more 6ft under who have been forgotten altogether.

Occasionally new headstones pop up in the old sections too, like one I saw from a woman who had tracked down her great uncle who died in 1908 aged 5 months and installed a headstone in his honor, topmost respect to her for that gesture!  A few steps over there is a grave with a tree growing right through the middle of the concrete and the iron railing, proving yet again that nature has its’ way of claiming back everything, eventually.

If you think you might have distant relatives resting here check out the plot locator tool, just type in your family name and maybe even pay their forgotten grave a visit!

 

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17 thoughts on “Waikumete Cemetery

  1. While researching my family history, I found a few interesting facts. Apparently, up till the 1920’s, everybody had the right to be buried. If the family could not afford to buy a plot, one was provided, however, the family could not erect a headstone or similar marker until the plot had been purchased. I have an ancestor buried in the Karori cemetery 1901, who was dug up after a time and re buried in an un marked piece of ground due to the original plot not being able to be paid for.

    Also, in the 1800’s many were buried wrapped in canvas as many families could not afford a coffin.

    A single plot was often 6′ wide which is why you learn of two or three (as in my family) being buried in the one plot.

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  2. I love Waikumete Cemetery – it’s a great place to walk the dog. One thing really spoils it for me though: all the artificial flowers. They disintegrate and become rubbish everywhere. I wonder why people don’t just plant a real plants instead. I think that would be much more respectful of the site and the loved ones.

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    1. I like the idea of real flowers, especially if planted for the symbolism of new life, I think not everyone can visit often enough to maintain them though. The fake ones are SO cheap at the $2 shops I can see why people choose them if they don’t fancy gardening. At least in the old section there is more nature and less rubbish :)

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      1. AWW I know!! they are so cute. I loved seeing them in the parks in the UK, very curious and fast running. We have hedgehogs here don’t we? I really want one for a pet but I’m not allowed to have pets where I am renting.

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          1. Wow lucky thing! The only time I found one was in the UK in Scotland, a baby one was crawling across the road. So my boyfriend and I got out of our car and stopped the on-coming traffic including a tourist bus which beeped at us. Oh well…deal with it! – we said. A hedgehog needs to cross LOL :D

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