Lawrence-Tuapeka Community Board

No two days are the same in this job, as we talk about improvements to our town and the public spaces that we are so proud of, that draw many visitors.

Recently we have been talking about our cemetery which is, of course, a very special type of public space in our community, and one that celebrates those who came before us and the impact they made to the many families that still call this place home. No matter your religious views, cemeteries bring thoughts of something bigger than we as humans and individuals are, and attract many of our visitors who are interested in tracing their ancestry.

Many of you will know that our present cemetery was established around 1866, at the time Lawrence was proclaimed a municipality. The old cemetery on the hill on Ardrossan St behind the Commercial Hotel was closed in 1867 and the consent of relatives of persons interred there was obtained to allow the remains to be moved here. From early on Lawrence Cemetery was sectioned into religious denominations, with a separate section for Chinese people. For many years, few remnants of the Chinese section of the Lawrence Cemetery remained as headstones and records disappeared, until the Lawrence 125th anniversary in 1986, when schoolchildren cleared the overgrowth. In 2002, members of the public undertook further restorative work and the Chinese section has been kept tidy since.

Over the years, our cemetery had a terrific ‘‘Friends of the Lawrence Cemetery’’ group that ran open days and did much to improve the cemetery and its location signboards.

We’re looking to get this up and running again, and are asking people who have an interest to join the group and bring their ideas to help further improve our cemetery.

This might be helping identify where gravestones have become overgrown, or writing has been obscured or obliterated.

It might also be to further improve signboards and plantings such as trees or flowers, or even water features, as many other cemeteries have done around the country, enhancing them as a place of reflection and preservation.

In a few weeks, we’ll have a walk around up at the cemetery with those interested, and get things moving again.

There’s lots of other things moving along in the town and great to see all of you getting behind these projects.

Don’t forget the community board has a modest fund to help great ideas, and we’d love to help. Put together a proposal, and come along to one of our meetings. If you need help, just ask any of your community board members, who will be happy to lend a hand.

Lawrence-Tuapeka Community Board member Suzanne Stephenson