Last summer a fancy-shmancy new public toilet was installed adjacent to the cemetery office. It’s a rocket ship version – all shiny metal, automatic flush, and all that modern stuff. Access for people with disabilities is safe and nice plantings have been established all round. It stands out rather, so there’s no excuse for visitors to not be able to find it.
The old one was in a dark green shed tucked away in the shadiest corner of the Rose Garden. Hard to see and not inviting for the needy passerby. Next to it stood a nondescript shed, the purpose of which was presumably, or so it was thought, storage for gardening materials or some such materials. With the new toilet busily flushing away, the old one had to be demolished. The toilet shed was no problem – construction had been sturdy enough for its purpose, but not so sturdy a few hefty whacks from a mechanical digger weren’t enough to get it tumbling down.
The shed next door though was another matter. Had I known how robust its construction was I would have earmarked it for temporary accommodation after an earthquake – there was no way this innocuous little structure was going to be moved. The walls were not only a half a metre or so thick, but also reinforced with steel. A bomb could have dropped next to it without causing damage.
The contractor responsible for demolition thought the job was going to take a few days. In the end, it took several weeks. Many days a bigger digger or jackhammer was brought on site to tackle the little monster, and each day a few more chunks of concrete were dislodged. And what treasures had this robust structure been sheltering? Ashes urns. Why these needed such strong walls to hold them is a mystery.
Visitors to the cemetery should take note: there is only one public facility in the cemetery, and it is near the main gates and office. It's a jolly long walk if you find yourself in need of relief in the area of the Tangiwai memorial, or down the gully at the furtherest reaches of the 100 acre site!