Careful conservation helps preserve Taupo cemetery

We worked with Taupo District Council on a strategy to repair and conserve individual graves and other aspects of the Taupo Cemetery.

Cemeteries are a special place in communities and deserve careful conservation – we worked with Taupo District Council to provide just that.

WSP Opus was commissioned by Taupo District Council to develop a conservation plan to provide strategies, guidelines and recommendations for the repair and conservation of individual graves and associated elements within the Taupo Cemetery.

The establishment of a cemetery was a vital public amenity in the nineteenth century, not only for religious reasons but also as a matter of public health. Today cemeteries are part of the urban fabric of our society, but often become neglected wastelands.

In 1911, the Old Military and Early Settlers Cemetery was zoned as a plantation site. Today it provides a ‘green space’ serving the immediate neighbourhood, the main shopping precinct. The Early Settlers Graves and Riverbank Block was originally surveyed in 1883 and is now part of the much larger Taupo Cemetery, parts of which are in current use.

Our heritage team carried out an extensive photographic and non-invasive survey of both cemeteries, recording inscriptions on all headstones where possible. This was supported by research into the historical background associated with early settlers to the region. A number of notable graves were located and included Surgeon Walker (New Zealand Cross), A.G. Morgan (M.B.E.) and Catherine Armstrong (QSO).

Information gathered was used to prepare a conservation plan where recommendations included vandalism control, retention of original cemetery design and layout, conservation guidelines for headstones and surrounds, maintenance of vegetation, provision of interpretation panels and the development of an archive for cemetery records.