GDC to help meet bill to reinstate the buried headstones

FINAL RESTING PLACE: Historic headstones retrieved from a trench in Makaraka Cemetery may soon be restored to their original plot sites with Gisborne District Council offering financial support to Friends of Makaraka Cemetery. File picture

The campaign to relocate 87 headstones to their original plot locations in Gisborne’s historic Makaraka Cemetery has been boosted by Gisborne District Council’s offer of financial support.

Councillors on the community development and services committee decided to fund one-third of any relocation funding application, with three quotes ranging in price from $35,000 to $67,000, and to provide technical assistance and support to Friends of Makaraka Cemetery,

They accepted the council had a responsibility to resolve a decades-old controversy.

The headstones were removed by Cook County Council in the early 1970s and buried for preservation purposes in a trench in 1982.

Dorothy McCulloch, of Friends of Makaraka Cemetery, was pleased to hear of the committee’s decision.

“We are thrilled that the council is helping with the funding — if we manage to get grants.

“We are actively looking into the funding options.’’

Councillor Karen Fenn told her colleagues the council had caused the problem.

Burying the headstones in a trench in 1982 was ridiculous and disrespectful.

There was no allocated budget in the long-term plan, but the council had to “see the project” through’’ for the benefit of the descendants.

Mrs Fenn originally supported option 2 before the committee, which was to provide staff support and technical advice only, but changed her mind to support option 3, which includes one-third funding support.

Committee chairman Andy Cranston said the retrieved headstones were in better condition than envisaged.

Most needed some form of renovation but the standard required would be determined by descendants.

He and Mrs Fenn wanted the council to support relocation of the headstones.

Descendants were happy to ‘‘clean the headstones up’’.

Josh Warehinga wanted council “to go further” than option 2.

The council had previously offered funding of $20,000 but that funding was not in the current long-term plan.

That funding level was close to the maximum one-third of the provided quotes.

Gisborne District Council had inherited the problem and needed to support Friends of Makaraka Cemetery in their lead role, he said.

The $20,000 funding previously provided for a memorial wall had since “lapsed’’, the committee’s agenda said.

Mr Cranston said it was unfair to say the funding provision had lapsed.

The council needed to take some responsibility.

Shannon Dowsing indicated his support for option 3.

There should be one-third funding following the previous $20,000 funding provision, he said.

Any reluctance to partially fund the relocation should be compared to a project “turning up on our door’’ last year and receiving funding of $40,000 without provision of any financial details or submitting to proper process.

Mr Dowsing did not name the project but would have been referring to the Tairawhiti Voyaging Trust, the organisation behind the waka hourua Tairawhiti.

Council should pay costs ‘to make this wrong right’

Mr Dowsing said recent alterations to the design of the parapet on the Gladstone Road Bridge shared pathway resulted in further non-budgeted funding of up to $200,000 when the council could have sought external funding.

Mr Dowsing described option 3 as a minimum involvement to resolve an issue that had existed for decades.

Keita Kohere, director of transformation and relationships, suggested the committee allow staff to examine council budgets for any possible funding ‘‘trade-off’’ to fund option 3.

Mr Dowsing said he did not support the proposal because the council had the opportunity to honour the previous funding provision, which was within one-third of the provided quotes.

Amber Dunn backed option 3.

The 87 buried headstones were a council error and the council should fix it, she said.

She believed the council should pay all of the costs ‘‘to finally make this wrong right”.

But she would join councillors in supporting option 3.

Mrs McCulloch said the original funding of $20,000 was to put the names of those whose headstones were still missing on a memorial wall.

“We classed that as stage 3.

“Stage 1 was to recover the buried headstones and stage 2 was to place them on the grave sites.”

There were more than 500 missing headstones, she said.

Makaraka Cemetery served as Gisborne’s cemetery from 1860 to 1916.

Considered to be the most notable grave is that of cabinet minister Sir James Carroll, who served as acting Prime Minister in 1909 and 1911, and his wife Lady Heni Materoa, also known as Te Huinga.

The campaign to relocate 87 headstones to their original plot locations in Gisborne’s historic Makaraka Cemetery has been boosted by Gisborne District Council’s offer of financial support.

Councillors on the community development and services committee decided to fund one-third of any relocation funding application, with three quotes ranging in price from $35,000 to $67,000, and to provide technical assistance and support to Friends of Makaraka Cemetery,

They accepted the council had a responsibility to resolve a decades-old controversy.

The headstones were removed by Cook County Council in the early 1970s and buried for preservation purposes in a trench in 1982.

Dorothy McCulloch, of Friends of Makaraka Cemetery, was pleased to hear of the committee’s decision.

“We are thrilled that the council is helping with the funding — if we manage to get grants.

“We are actively looking into the funding options.’’

Councillor Karen Fenn told her colleagues the council had caused the problem.

Burying the headstones in a trench in 1982 was ridiculous and disrespectful.

There was no allocated budget in the long-term plan, but the council had to “see the project” through’’ for the benefit of the descendants.

Mrs Fenn originally supported option 2 before the committee, which was to provide staff support and technical advice only, but changed her mind to support option 3, which includes one-third funding support.

Committee chairman Andy Cranston said the retrieved headstones were in better condition than envisaged.

Most needed some form of renovation but the standard required would be determined by descendants.

He and Mrs Fenn wanted the council to support relocation of the headstones.

Descendants were happy to ‘‘clean the headstones up’’.

Josh Warehinga wanted council “to go further” than option 2.

The council had previously offered funding of $20,000 but that funding was not in the current long-term plan.

That funding level was close to the maximum one-third of the provided quotes.

Gisborne District Council had inherited the problem and needed to support Friends of Makaraka Cemetery in their lead role, he said.

The $20,000 funding previously provided for a memorial wall had since “lapsed’’, the committee’s agenda said.

Mr Cranston said it was unfair to say the funding provision had lapsed.

The council needed to take some responsibility.

Shannon Dowsing indicated his support for option 3.

There should be one-third funding following the previous $20,000 funding provision, he said.

Any reluctance to partially fund the relocation should be compared to a project “turning up on our door’’ last year and receiving funding of $40,000 without provision of any financial details or submitting to proper process.

Mr Dowsing did not name the project but would have been referring to the Tairawhiti Voyaging Trust, the organisation behind the waka hourua Tairawhiti.

Council should pay costs ‘to make this wrong right’

Mr Dowsing said recent alterations to the design of the parapet on the Gladstone Road Bridge shared pathway resulted in further non-budgeted funding of up to $200,000 when the council could have sought external funding.

Mr Dowsing described option 3 as a minimum involvement to resolve an issue that had existed for decades.

Keita Kohere, director of transformation and relationships, suggested the committee allow staff to examine council budgets for any possible funding ‘‘trade-off’’ to fund option 3.

Mr Dowsing said he did not support the proposal because the council had the opportunity to honour the previous funding provision, which was within one-third of the provided quotes.

Amber Dunn backed option 3.

The 87 buried headstones were a council error and the council should fix it, she said.

She believed the council should pay all of the costs ‘‘to finally make this wrong right”.

But she would join councillors in supporting option 3.

Mrs McCulloch said the original funding of $20,000 was to put the names of those whose headstones were still missing on a memorial wall.

“We classed that as stage 3.

“Stage 1 was to recover the buried headstones and stage 2 was to place them on the grave sites.”

There were more than 500 missing headstones, she said.

Makaraka Cemetery served as Gisborne’s cemetery from 1860 to 1916.

Considered to be the most notable grave is that of cabinet minister Sir James Carroll, who served as acting Prime Minister in 1909 and 1911, and his wife Lady Heni Materoa, also known as Te Huinga.

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