Saturday, December 31, 2011

Preserving a message in a cemetery

This is the result of a small SLIPs (small local improvement project) application to have an interpretive sign placed beside the earliest grave at St Ninian's Cemetery in Avondale, that of Rev David Hamilton from 1873.

The Whau Local Board approved the project, which involved the inclusion of the words that are carved on the stone faces of the obelisk on the sign. Time and weather are eroding the stone, rendering most of the wording unreadable. The Avondale-Waterview Historical Society, at the suggestion of member Peter Blaiklock waited for the right opportunity to ask for such a sign for around three years. When St Ninians was opened up again, and the cemetery cleared of most of the overgrowth, I put in the application on behalf of the Society. The sign was installed in late November this year. (The photo on the sign is mine.)

“Rev. David Hamilton B.A., Clergyman of the parish, who after a pastorate of 15 months, died from exposure in the Manukau Forest, in the month of July 1873, a. 29. ‘To me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.’ The above words, which aptly describe his career, are those from which he last preached the gospel to his people. He left his home on 9th July for Huia, to conduct Divine service, and proceeded on the 10th for Manukau Heads, but missed his way in the darkness. His body was found on the 20th and interred here on 23 July 1873.

“Erected by his parishioners and friends, in affectionate remembrance of his goodness as a man and his devotedness as a Christian minister.”

My thanks to the Auckland Council SLIPs team, and the Whau Local Board for seeing this to fruition. Now, future generations have a chance to see what those who held Rev Hamilton in such high regard had to say from so long ago.