For a long time, the Friends of the Bolton Street Cemetery have been advocating for a garden to contain the pieces of memorials which were removed from their original location during the construction of the motorway in the 1960s and which then became unidentifiable in the relocation process. We were also concerned about the minimalist design of the mass grave behind the chapel, where 3700 people were reinterred during the same upheaval, because the grass lawn gave the impression of a play area rather than a burial ground. Our solution to both these problems has been a sculpture garden constructed precisely over the grave site and containing these ‘unknown’ headstones, bases and other fixtures such as pieces of railings – all relating to people buried in the mass grave below the Memorial Lawn.
To our delight this project was carried out just before Christmas with funding from the Wellington City Council’s budget. A clear border for the mass grave has been made from raised bricks, and about thirty unidentified pieces have been moved to the site. This was no easy undertaking given the size and weight of some marble items. They include headstone bases which have been sitting at the far reaches of the Karori Cemetery for many decades, plus other pieces moved from under the trees on Glenbervie Ridge. These pieces reflect the type of memorials to be found generally throughout this Victorian cemetery which is full of Christian references, in contrast to today’s more secular society. Some railings are soon to be included to show the different styles and materials used in the cemetery and to give greater definition to the grave area. Explanatory signage will be the final step.