Friday, October 17, 2008

St Ninians Cemetery -- the forgotten third historical cemetery on the Auckland City isthmus

Auckland City Council have a web page about their cemeteries here.

Since June this year, via emails and phone calls, I've been trying to convince Auckland City Council to add the St Ninians Cemetery to their list of historical (that is, no longer open for use) cemeteries. To the date of this post, I've had no luck. Now, there have been Council staff who have tried to help along the way. They don't see any reason why the cemetery beside the old 1860 church building, on St Georges Road here in Avondale, shouldn't be on the list. But others simply haven't contacted me to tell me why they still have not amended their web page.

Is it historical?
Yes -- the earliest burial was in July 1873, for Rev. David Hamilton who died from exposure and drowning in the Waitakere Ranges on his way to Presbyterian services in Huia and Whatipu. The latest burial was in 1974, according to the Society of Genealogists. It is Avondale's second cemetery after that at Rosebank (first burial there in 1862, and that one is still operational as the George Maxwell Memorial Cemetery, administered by the St Jude's Church Vestry.)

Is it owned by Auckland City Council?
Yes -- since the late 1980s, when the Council took over St Ninians Church, it also took over the churchyard and cemetery. Apart from some nasty prickly stuff swamping one of the graves in a far corner, it's kept very neat and tidy by Council maintenance staff. The lawns are mowed regularly.

So why isn't it on the website?
I haven't the foggiest idea. Maybe someone just thought it was parkland, not a cemetery, or maybe it just didn't have a high profile. But considering some of the names buried there:

Jessie Eva Hort Huxham MacKenzie, the famed "Danish Princess" of considerable fame, including a bit of the television programme Epitaph, and her husband Rev. Alexander MacKenzie, who created the legend,
Members of the Heron family, connected with workers at the Glenburn brickyard,
Members of the Ingram family, who donated the Ingram Memorial windows to St Ninians (at the moment, safe at the Nafanua Church on Rosebank Road),
Re. David Hamilton, as mentioned,
and John Neale Bethell, of Bethells Beach/Te Henga ...

I don't think it's too much to ask to have this formerly country cemetery, now looked after by Auckland City, to be included on their website.

Hopefully, some time soon, I'll be able to advise success and declare this post out of date.

Update: Success!

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