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Makaraka Cemetery, Gisborne, New Zealand

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Makaraka Cemetery was Gisborne’s cemetery from 1860 to 1916.

500 headstones considered to be in poor condition were removed between 1971 and 1973 and made into rubble used to fill in Houhoupiko Stream or dumped into a pit on site. The kerbings and railings of other grave sites were removed, leaving many remaining headstones unstable and unsightly.

In 1982, about 90 headstones and pieces of headstones from the Makaraka Cemetery were buried in a trench to preserve them from further loss or damage by vandals. This was by request of the regional committee of the Historic Places Trust.

On Monday 30 April 2018, working over 3 days our cemetery staff together with the Friends of Makaraka Cemetery Trust and contractors, uplifted the 90 buried headstones and pieces from the trench. The Friends of Makaraka Cemetery Trust campaigned to have the headstones dug up and restored.

There is a monument and gravesite from “the Matawhero incident” of 1868, graves of local government officials and prominent settlers, and a monument to the 13 who died when SS Tasmania ran aground at Mahia in 1897.

Prominent Gisborne names in Makaraka Cemetery include Lynsar, Chrisp, Tarr, Muir, Barker, Sievwright and Barry.

The cemetery contains the official war graves of 3 men who served in the New Zealand forces during the First World War: Private Isaac Chadwick Taylor, Private William George Gray and Private John Christie.

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