To celebrate the settlement of Wellington by the New Zealand Company in 1840 we have an Anniversary Day each January, with a public holiday on Monday. This year the holiday falls on Monday 21 January, and to acknowledge the day Karori Cemetery Tour is running special EARLY WELLINGTON SETTLERS tours at 10.30am and 1.30pm. Put on your walking shoes, clip the dog onto its lead, and come along to meet some of the characters who helped to build our city into the best wee capital in the world. Duration 1.5 hours, easy walking, bring sunblock or a sun hat and some water to drink - the forecast suggests it will be a warm sunny day. Meet at the Main Chapel, Rosehaugh Avenue. Cost $10 per person, children under 10 free. Bookings helpful - firstname.lastname@example.org or call me on 021 0653 778
The full programme of tours is available throughout the summer months - see the programme here. The tour programme can be changed if there's a particular themed tour you want to do and it's not available at the time that suits you - give me a call (021 065 3778) or send me an email (email@example.com) and we'll see what can be done.
Tours cost $10 per person, paid in cash at the start of the tour.
Karori Cemetery Tours will start again on 1 December, but before then there's some exciting FREE events to attend.
ARMISTICE DAY 2018
There will be a FREE public talk in the Services Section of the Cemetery on 11 November at 1.00pm.
The development of the Services section had begun only 6 months before the end of WW1, and the first few men were buried between June and the end of October.
This talk will cover the development of the Services section, why it was important to have a dedicated area within the cemetery for service men, and the womens group who campaigned to create it. The talk will then reveal some of the stories of those buried, and explore the range of activities men were involved in during the war through the regimental information on their headstones.
The Services section is flat, and grassed, and relatively even underfoot, and is accessible to all comers.
Duration 45 minutes. No need to book - just turn up on the day.
1918 INFLUENZA PROJECT
There will be two commemoration days in November for those who died in Wellington of influenza in November and December 1918 and were buried in Karori Cemetery. Volunteers have been working for two years to clean and tidy graves in three areas and make them accessible, and on the 18th and 25th November 2018 there will be guided tours of each area, as well as in the Services and Jewish sections.
Wellington's Mayor, Justin Lester, will open proceedings on 18 November at 11.00am, and Hon Grant Robertson will also speak. There will also be a public talk by Professor Geoffrey Rice about the influenza epidemic in New Zealand.
The project website contains all the information about the project, and about the commemoration days:
Follow and like the project on Facebook as well
Karori Cemetery Tour is taking a break during the 2018 winter months, and will resume service from
1 December 2018.
If possible there will be one-off tours from time to time, so keep an eye on Facebook for announcements.
An anonymous rectangle of low concrete wall is all that marks the family grave of nine members of the KIRK family. The women of the family were all lively contributors to the advancement of the rights of women and signed the NZ Women’s Suffrage Petition in 1893. Their family plot at Karori has no headstone, and there is no acknowledgement that interred beneath are some influential members of NZ society in the late 1800's and into the 20th century.
Thomas Kirk, who became well-known in New Zealand as a botanist, and his wife Sarah Jane had four children before emigrating to NZ from England in 1863, and another five in NZ between 1864 and 1870, two of whom (twins) died as infants, and another daughter died aged 5 years old.
The surviving children grew up in a strongly moral, fiercely temperance Baptist household which was, however, genial and full of fun. Given to good works, the Kirks supported the socially progressive ideas of their time.
The youngest daughter, Cybele Edith, and her slightly older sister Lilly May fully embraced robust and militant Christianity, and with their mother and older sister Amy taught English to Chinese immigrants and reading skills to factory girls. The girls were well-educated – Lilly for example spoke French and German fluently, although she never left the colony, and read widely. Both Lilly and Cybele joined the NZ Women’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) from its inception in 1885 and supported total abstinence. Lilly is recorded as stating that the 'slight pleasure that indulgence brings to the respectable modest drinker is as a feather's weight against the load of woe that drink lays upon numbers of our fellow creatures'. Her involvement in the temperance movement went hand in hand with advocacy of women's suffrage.
As a member of the legal and parliamentary department of the WCTU Lilly was frequently in the gallery of the House of Representatives, and her 'intimate acquaintance with parliamentary usage' was invaluable to the union. She gave briefs on all bills which affected women, children or trade in alcohol, maintaining that women must take an intelligent interest in politics before advocating vigorous action.
She had a firm belief in the ability of women to effect change, and held that in the home, the nursery and the social circle the influence of women was supreme. During the WCTU campaign for women's suffrage, Lily Kirk addressed audiences throughout Wellington province. Lilly, who had married Arthur Richmond ATKINSON in 1900, by whom she had a son (who died aged 3 days old in 1900) and a daughter, died in 1921
Cybele, who never married, was protected and outshone by her brilliant family, and it took the death of her mother (1916) and sister Lily (1921) to help her find her individual strength, devoting her adult life to social work with the New Zealand Society for the Protection of Women and Children. She was also active in the National Council of Women of New Zealand and the WCTU. In 1935 she was awarded the King George V Silver Jubilee Medal for her outstanding community service.
Their older brothers Thomas William, and Harry Borrer, had distinguished careers, both working in the field of botany. The latter became the first Professor of Biology at Victoria University of Wellington, where one of the major buildings on the campus at Kelburn is named after him.
The family plot was purchased by Sarah Kirk when her husband Thomas died in 1898, even though it is said the family finances were precarious. Two years later, Lilly’s infant son Tom was buried, aged only 3 days. Sarah followed her husband and grandson into the plot in 1916, and sadly, Lilly, when aged 55, joined them in 1921. Her husband Arthur was buried with them in 1935, then Amy in 1945, Cybele in 1957, and finally two daughters of their brother Harry were interred in 1957 and 1973.
With thanks to and acknowledgement of The NZ Dictionary of Biography, which includes full biographies of Thomas Kirk, two of his sons – Thomas William and Harry Borrer - and of Lilly (ATKINSON) and Cybele.
What a cracking summer we're having, and it seems there's many more days of sunshine and warmth to come. Perfect conditions for a leisurely walk around the oldest and most historic part of Karori Cemetery, learning about it's history and heritage, and learning about some of the people - famous, infamous, or just interesting - amongst the 85,000 interments.Easy walking for one and a half hours, accompanied by good dogs on leads if they want to come along too. Check out the summer Tours Schedule 2018 for times of the three themed tours, and work out which one suits or interests you. And if you would prefer another time of the day, or a different tour, just let me now and we'll sort something out. Bookings are essential, but easy to arrange:
021 065 3778 or www.karoricemeterytour.com
In November and December 1918 more than 600 people who had died of influenza in Wellington during the world wide epidemic were buried in Karori Cemetery. This was more than three times the usual monthly burial rate. Most of these people were buried in three distinct areas of the cemetery. More than 100 men who were in training for war service at Trentham Camp were amongst those who succumbed and they were buried in the newly developed Soldiers Section.
The 1918 Influenza Project is a volunteer based community initiative supported by the Wellington City Council. Volunteers are cleaning and tidying many of the graves of those who died, and researching their life stories. Their work, and general project information, is available on a dedicated website
As part of Wellington City Heritage Week, Karori Cemetery Tour is offering a FREE tour of three of the sites in the cemetery, starting at 1.30pm on
Monday 23 October (Labour Day).
Come along and learn more about the project, and hear the stories behind the headstones. The tour will take 1.5 - 2 hours, and you don’t need to book, though an email to indicate your interest would be appreciated (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Meet at the Lychgate, Services section, on the main road through the cemetery. The tour will proceed unless there is pouring rain and a howling wind from either the north or the south!
There will also be a FREE public talk about the epidemic on Sunday 29 October in the Community Room of the Karori Recreation Centre (behind the Library), at 2.00pm.
"The Great Death in Paradise: the 1918 Influenza pandemic in Fiji, Tonga, and the Samoas.”
presented by Dr Ryan McLane
There will be a cuppa and biscuits after a Q&A session following Dr McLane's presentation.
Wednesday 27 September, 10-30 am-12.30pm. Meet at the Main Chapel, Rosehaugh Avenue. Come along and learn more about the cemetery and some of it's heritage features. Suitable for all ages. Good dogs on leads welcome. The tour is across hilly terrain and sometimes on uneven surfaces and is not suitable for people with limited mobility.
No need to book, just turn up on the day.
This tour is offered as one of the events in the Wellington City Council Spring Festival which runs from Saturday 23 September until Sunday 1 October. Full details of the Spring Festival 2017 https://wellington.govt.nz/events/annual-events/spring-festival/schedule-of-events
While in London last year I went on a guided tour of West Kensal Cemetery. Amongst the small but enthusiastic group who had gathered was an Aussie, Loraine Punch, who was visiting even more cemeteries during her travels than I had managed to fit in. She is one of the guides of Friends of Rookwood Cemetery, Sydney. We chummed up and have kept in touch via Facebook posts and messages ever since. On Sunday 11 June Loraine took me on an extensive tour of Rookwood, showing me all aspects of this vast necropolis and her favourite headstones and stonemasonry. At 314 hectares (776 acres) Rookwood is the largest cemetery in the Southern Hemisphere, and dwarfs Karori Cemetery, which is a mere 40.5 hectares (100 acres). We spent two hours in the morning wandering on foot, then the afternoon hopping in and out of the car as we toured the vast expanse of this working cemetery.
As the largest Victorian era cemetery still in operation in the world, Rookwood is of significant national and historical importance. It has operated continuously since 1867, making it one of the oldest working cemeteries in Australia. It also offers 15 different burial types to meet the different needs of the 90+ religious and cultural denominations that use Rookwood Cemetery. The cemetery is run by two organisations – the Rookwood General Cemeteries Reserve Trust, and the Catholic Metropolitan Cemeteries Trust.
From 1869 to 1950 the cemetery was serviced by a railway from Central Sydney station, where there was a Mortuary Station in one corner of the yards. Special trains for coffins (and their occupants) and mourners ran twice daily, arriving at Mortuary Station No. 1 from a dedicated spur line at Lidcombe railway station. The line within the cemetery was extended and eventually there were four stations to drop off coffins at locations convenient for their final carriage to the burial site. The receiving station at Rookwood was removed in 1957 and re-erected stone-by-stone in Canberra where it has been serving as a church ever since.
The Mortuary Station in central Sydney is open to the public several times a year and is well worth visiting.
“The Necropolis (as Rookwood was initially called) featured sinuous paths, ornamental shrubberies, specimen trees, summerhouses, chapels, water features, and an elaborate network of deep, brick-lined serpentine drains.” ("Sydney Cemeteries" A Field Guide", Lisa Murray, p. 109, pub 2016)
There are of course hundreds and hundreds of interesting headstones, much ornate stonemasonry, glorious statuary, and stories galore of the nearly one million permanent occupants. As a working cemetery, with constant burials, cremations, chapel services, and construction and renovation programmes, the cemetery is a hive of activity, and there are enough people passing through and visiting to sustain an onsite café and a couple of flower shops.
Loraine and the other volunteer guides from the Friends of Rookwood conduct a series of 2.5 hour themed guided tours on the first Sunday of the month, from March to November. It’s worth keeping an eye on their Facebook page to keep up with their programme.
The Chapel of St Michael the Archangel was designed in the mid-1880's in the Gothic Revival style. The statue on the belltower has been replaced twice since then, both times after catching fire when struck by lightning. A crypt area under the apse was used for storage of coffins arriving by train and awaiting prayers and masses before burial.
There's been a couple of interesting articles recently about the increased interest in what is sometimes now called "tombstone tourism" - visits to the graveyards of the rich and famous.
BBC News Online starts an item:
Visiting a graveyard for enjoyment is not everyone's cup of tea. But tombstone tourists - or "taphophiles" - are increasingly to be found wandering through cemeteries, examining headstones, and generally enjoying the sombre atmosphere. What is the appeal?
They then tell us all about it, and list four world-famous cemeteries - Pere LaChaise (Paris), Cemitério de São João Batista (Rio de Janeiro), Cementerio de la Recoleta (Buenos Aires) and Zentralfriedhof (Vienna). Oddly, they omitted Karori Cemetery (Wellington).
Read all about it here: http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-39480595?SThisFB
A shorter item features on the Lonely Planet website: http://www.lonelyplanet.com/news/2017/05/24/dead-interesting-tombstone-tourism-graveyards-history/