Waikumete cemetery. File photo / NZ Herald
Bystanders rushed to help a man who dropped dead while
cleaning his parents' graves on Mother's Day today.
The 68-year-old was in the historic Wesleyan area of
Auckland's Waikumete Cemetery when he collapsed around
Bystanders, including a nurse, rushed to help him and he was
given CPR at 12.14pm, police said.
Emergency services were called to the cemetery, which was
packed with mourners, however the man died in front of
onlookers. A fire appliance carrying lifesaving medical
equipment arrived two minutes later.
Senior Sergeant Michael Rickards of Waitemata Police said the
man collapsed "about 12pm today while tending to his parents'
gravestone. Members of the public tried to revive him but he
"He was paying his respects, cleaning their headstone, and he
collapsed and he died. We're not sure how.
"There were no suspicious circumstances.
"Under circumstances where there is a sudden death and the
circumstances can't be explained, it becomes a coroner's
Four hours later, Auckland Council, which manages the
cemetery, still hadn't been notified somebody had died on
Council property, despite the cemetery being so busy that
even at 4pm, traffic was backed up to the Great North Road
Cemetery Manager Roscoe Webb said today's excellent weather
conditions were the reason the cemetery was packed.
"The more people that come into the cemetery, the more the
likelihood of this [a death occurring]."
"I guess it's not unusual in a public open space," Mr Webb
While Mr Webb said the site was patrolled regularly by
security guards and "is pretty much on lockdown during normal
operating hours," he had still not been informed of the death
four hours after it occurred.
After being alerted by APNZ News, Mr Webb said he would have
to attend the Henderson Police Station himself tonight to get
more information from police.
The man's death has been referred to the coroner. Police have
yet to notify the man's next of kin.
- Michael Botur of APNZ