Cemetery Trust records lost

Hyde Cemetery Trust treasurer Martin Cameron holds a copy of a letter from Audit New Zealand...
Hyde Cemetery Trust treasurer Martin Cameron holds a copy of a letter from Audit New Zealand which takes responsibility for the loss of the trust's records, some of which date back to the 1880s. Photos: Gregor Richardson
Historical records which date back more than a century covering the history of a small Otago town have been lost by the national auditor.

Burial certificates, plot records and a minute book containing details of meetings dating back to 1880s are just some of the documents missing after the Hyde Cemetery Trust's annual audit by Audit New Zealand.

The entrance to Hyde Cemetery.
The entrance to Hyde Cemetery.
Trust secretary Martin Cameron said the records, which were kept inside a cardboard box, were sent to Audit New Zealand's Christchurch office last year.

While the trust received the auditor's report, the records have never been returned, despite an exhaustive search by Audit New Zealand.

For the past 40 years the trust had hand-delivered the records to Audit New Zealand's office in Dunedin but this year was the first time they had been processed in Christchurch, Mr Cameron said.

Details contained in the records provided an insight into life of residents living in the small town which were not recorded anywhere else, he said.

"There was a lot of interesting information in those books, just from the plot records you could learn who someone was, what job they had, how old they were when they died.

"It's irreplaceable."

Making matters worse, copies of the documents were destroyed in a house fire last year.

"In hindsight we should have thought about putting them on a stick, which we did talk about, but last thing in the world we were worried about was Audit New Zealand losing them."

Hope may lie in the Central Otago District Council archives in Ranfurly, which hold some records on the cemetery which were transferred from the Maniototo County Council when it was abolished in 1989.

Audit New Zealand has taken responsibility for the loss of the records and apologised for any inconvenience caused.

An Audit NZ spokesman said following the incident the organisation had amended its processes for returning items and now contacted cemetery trusts a week after returning items to ensure they were received.

Copies of all the information held in Audit New Zealand's files had been provided to the trust which included records, minutes, plot and burial registers which dated back several years, the spokesman said.

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