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More than 380 roses in Dunedin’s Northern Cemetery, some of which are more than 130 years old, have been sprayed with some kind of herbicide.
Heritage Roses Otago convener Fran Rawling told the Otago Daily Times yesterday she was shocked and angered by the action, particularly by the damage to 40 memorial roses planted by families of some of those buried at the cemetery in the 1870s.
"Hundreds of hours of work have gone in to looking after these roses.
"We worked the hardest to save the memorial roses."
It was not officially known who sprayed the roses. She had suspicions, but did not want to lay blame or take the matter further, she said.
Dunedin City Council parks operations manager Hamish Black said the council was working to identify the source of the chemical damage.
The cemetery has about 1000 roses, and 384 are showing signs of damage.
"Initial test results show the presence of a chemical that is not used by the contractor in cemeteries," Mr Black said.
"The DCC expects to have further results next week."
To help the affected roses recover, extensive pruning would be done next week by Dunedin Botanic Garden staff and Heritage Roses Otago, he said.