Historic graves’ facelift going well

by Helen Martin
The restoration of early Kaukapakapa settlers’ graves in the cemetery on the corner of Peak Road and Kaipara Coast Highway is progressing well with more graves repaired, thanks to the work of the Cemetery Committee and expert Waitoki concrete contractor Philip Wiseman.
Until recently the grave of George Murray and his wife and daughter, for example, was in total disrepair. Today it has a repaired headstone and a new concrete pad displaying black and white tiles remaining from the original build, replaced in order to maintain some of the grave’s original look.
Long-time cemetery sexton Isla Wills, who has a deep knowledge of the histories of

Sexton Isla Willis at a repaired grave

Sexton Isla Willis at a repaired grave

many those buried here, hopes that in seeing the graves preserved people will take an interest in the history they represent and come to learn something of the contribution these early settlers made to their community.
George Murray, for example, made a considerable contribution to education, Isla says, not just locally as the Headmaster of Kaukapakapa School but also further a field as a member of several education boards in Auckland.

The repaired Drinnan grave

The repaired Drinnan grave

The grave of Robert James Drinnan and his wife Edith Annie is another that has had a thorough makeover. Isla explains that when she was a child “every farm both sides of the road was owned by a Drinnan” and there are many fascinating stories about the family

An example of Philip Wiseman's headstone restoration

An example of Philip Wiseman's headstone restoration

members. For example Janet Drinnan, whose husband went to seek his fortune in the Otago goldfields and never came home, built a boarding house and a store and was able to buy all the land from the big stone to the Waitoki School.
In addition to fixing the graves the cemetery committee has worked hard tidying the grounds. Repairing every grave is a very long term project requiring money and energy but, as Isla sees it, every grave repaired is a move towards its completion.

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