Unfortunately we can not give you an accurate number of grave monuments and plots damaged recently as there are around 17,000 grave plots and no one would fund us for a general damage audit before the earthquakes which would have given us a base line to work from. We also lost our photographic records in 2009 and had only just started to build them back up.
4th September 2010
There was little visible damage in September. Some pads had cracked and some monuments were at a slight lean. The City Council went around the cemetery and did a sterling job in marking grave monuments with tape that they thought unsafe. It was a very small percentage. As we didn’t think there would be another earthquake, we just kept an eye on the damage following the aftershocks.
22 February 2011
The damage that occurred on 4th February is far more visible.
New paths and the tar-sealed roads have cracked.
Plumbing moved; pipes rising from the earth.
Some of the more noticeable graves especially those that were obelisks, fell. On a social note, these are usually those of more ‘notable’ people from the history of Christchurch society.
There doesn’t appear to be one area affected more than another. From the ground, damage looks almost random. It may be that in the future an arial photograph shows a clearer pattern. There were only about three areas of liquifaction and 2 of those were relatively small.
What is most sad and surprising about the damage to monuments is that
- many monuments have smashed and pieces were thrown quite a distance,
- even headstones recently re-pinned were thrown off their pins,
- sections of some very large monuments have the appearance of having ’spun’ apart,
- already fragile and disappearing iron work has been smashed.
We have now experienced well over 1,000 quakes in Christchurch and although they are now few and far between, they will probably be a part of our life for many years to come. We continue to inspect for any new damage but it is very time consuming with the technology available to us and time is short for us as volunteers with the other activities we are engaged in; Trust and non-Trust.
What needs to be done?
- pieces need to be returned to the correct grave plot,
- stones need to be made legible (in most cases turned over),
- vulnerable pieces need to be ‘hidden’ on the relevant grave plot,
- the general appearance needs to be tidy and cared for, despite the damage,
- damage needs to be photographed,
- restoration and maintenance standards need to be reviewed and new recommendations applied as a matter of urgency.
Who will do it?
We don’t know yet. We continue to wait to see what the City Council comes up with. In the meantime, we are looking for volunteer ‘muscle’ trained in safe lifting and lifting equipment so we can start on the manageable ones. We are also photographing individual plots when we can. Where we know about ancestors connected to a grave we are informing them. Please be patient with us if you have already asked for an earthquake check, we will get back to you as soon as we can. You can hear a CCC statement on cemetery damage here.
© The Friends of Linwood Cemetery Charitable Trust
Updated 25th June 2012 by Alexandra Gilbert