Call for recognition of missing graves

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Two locals are appealing to the council to establish recognition for lost graves in Oamaru.

Geoff Pye and conservation historian Helen Stead made submissions about missing graves to the council last Wednesday.

They say 800-to-1000 graves at the Oamaru Cemetery have been missing since 1953 when the headstones were removed and more people were buried on top of them, with new headstones put in place.

The missing graves encompass plots 101-117.

Geoff Pye has relatives who died at a young age and were buried in the area.

“I’d love to see something done because I had some family buried here, but I wouldn’t know they were there anymore. I want to see something done about the missing graves.”

While both Mrs Stead and Mr Pye said they knew it could be a tough ask getting something done about the missing graves, they felt it was worth trying.

“We hope they took our submissions into account and noticed that all we are after is some way of letting people know the names of the ones who were buried here and a chance for family members to come back and visit them,” Mr Pye said.

He said many people, not only from Oamaru but all around the country, could have loved ones buried in the plot of land where the new graves sat, which they hoped would still be remembered in some way, Mr Pye said.

Mrs Stead does not feel a plaque would be the right form of acknowledgement, and like Mr Pye, would love to see a map produced and the people’s names written on the shed on Test St.

“We would love to see the people recognised by a map being painted on or inside the shed and we’d love to see their name, age, year they died and how they died so families can see if they had any relations here.”

By BRAYDEN LINDSAY