Doing right by surveyor

Helping to improve the damaged grave of early Dunedin surveyor Charles Kettle are (from left) cemeteries heritage advocate Stewart Harvey, Otago University Surveying Students Association president Rob Mears, and Emeritus Prof Martin Ferguson. Photo by Linda Robertson.
Helping to improve the damaged grave of early Dunedin surveyor Charles Kettle are (from left) cemeteries heritage advocate Stewart Harvey, Otago University Surveying Students Association president Rob Mears, and Emeritus Prof Martin Ferguson. Photo by Linda Robertson.

University of Otago surveying students and Dunedin surveyors have joined forces to help repair a grave left in a ''totally shameful'' condition, in the city's Southern Cemetery.

The grave is that of Charles Kettle, who was Dunedin's first main surveyor.

He contributed much to the city, laying out its distinctive pattern of streets, including its central Octagon.

In April, Otago University Emeritus Prof Martin Ferguson, who had been studying Kettle's life, contacted the Otago Daily Times and raised concerns about the grave, which had been badly damaged through years of neglect and vandalism.

The situation was highlighted in an ODT story, in which Historic Cemeteries Conservation Trust of New Zealand chairman Stewart Harvey lamented the grave's ''shameful'' state.

Otago University Surveying Students Association president Rob Mears said association members had responded by raising about $1500 for grave repairs, through a recent annual quiz night and associated fundraising auction.

The coastal Otago branch of the New Zealand Institute of Surveyors backed the auction, and branch member donations lifted the total to $1900.

''It's great to see it happen. It's appropriate for Dunedin,'' Prof Ferguson said about the fundraising. Dr Mick Strack, an Otago University surveying academic and Otago branch executive member, was ''extremely proud'' of the student response.

Mr Harvey, the chairman of the Historic Cemeteries Conservation Trust of New Zealand, was ''ecstatic'' about the support by students, surveyors and the wider community.

A further $3000 had been pledged by community sources, and the grave would be restored later this year, he said.

john.gibb@odt.co.nz

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