Bequest to fund cemetery cleanup


Cardrona Cemetery will be given a cleanup thanks to a generous bequest by an Upper Clutha resident, Henry Barker.
Historic Cemeteries Conservation Trust of New Zealand chairman, Dr Terry Hearn said a ‘‘five-figure sum’’ was given to the trust by Mr Barker, who died last year.
The bequest was ‘‘a substantial bequest for a substantial project’’.
Upper Clutha Historical Records Society researcher Margaret Thomlinson said Mr Barker was a ‘‘a very gentle person, a gentleman.’’
Mr Barker was interested in the history of his ancestors, and the history of the area, she said.
From the Wet Lands of South Otago to the High Country of the Wakatipu, written by Mr Barker, told the story of his ancestors and his own journey from childhood in Cardrona, rabbiting in the Cardrona Valley, and time at Ben Lomond Station in Wakatipu, which his father bought in 1950.
Mr Barker also left money to the records society, Mrs Thomlinson said.
‘‘He was generous to us, as well. He used his money to help carry on the traditions and stories of his family and the area,’’ Mrs Thomlinson said.
The restoration of the cemetery was planned to begin this spring or summer, Dr Hearn said.
‘‘The tasks are the removal of some vegetation where that is imperilling the grave foundations, and standing markers.’’
‘‘The rest of the work will involve repairing grave foundations where they have collapsed, it may involve the repair of grave surrounds, and it will certainly involve the repair of grave markers themselves — those are the standing monuments.’’
Repairs included re-standing collapsed markers, fixing and re-lettering broken markers.
Care would be taken about the level of cleaning and re­lettering that took place — having a ‘‘sparkling cemetery’’ was not the aim, and cleaning could do further damage, he said.
‘‘Cemeteries, after all, are about decay and corruption.’’
Queenstown Lakes District Council (QLDC) Assistant Parks & Reserves Officer, Jess Thomson said each cemetery told an important story about the district.
‘‘Cardrona Cemetery has a significant amount of mining history and a number of miners and Chinese miners are buried there.’’
The QLDC would contribute to some minor improvements to the fence and vegetation clearance, but as headstones were ‘‘essentially private property’’, it was up to next of kin to maintain headstones ‘‘which in turn restricts the activities council can undertake’’.
‘‘QLDC recognises, acknowledges and thanks the trust for the significant contribution to the Cardrona Cemetery.’’
Local resident Ray Anderson of Branch Creek Station in Cardrona had ancestors buried in the cemetery, including John Pearce, who arrived in Cardrona in 1863 to work gold claims.
He welcomed cleanup work and hoped some money might be used to help resolve an issue of lost graves.
‘‘There’s 22 headstones, but 73 people that we know of that are buried here, but they have lost the records.’’