Support for cemetery project

The Drybread Cemetery. Photo: University of Otago
The Drybread Cemetery. Photo: University of Otago
A proposal to locate and exhume graves in the historic Drybread Cemetery and analyse their remains seems to have the support of those in the surrounding district.

However, a four-week consultation period has been scheduled to allow residents to provide feedback on the proposal before it gets the final go-ahead.

About 15 people attended a public meeting in Omakau last week about the proposed University of Otago project, which has the unanimous support of the Drybread Cemetery trustees.

It was broadly supported by those at the meeting.

Trustee Karen Glassford said it was hoped the project would show the location of unmarked graves in the cemetery.

Trustees had made various unsuccessful attempts to do this, including by commissioning ground-penetrating radar, and were pinning their hopes on the university project, Mrs Glassford said.

The university has already done similar research projects in cemeteries in Milton and Lawrence, where unidentified graves have been located and some remains forensically analysed.

All remains have been, or will be, reinterred.

Mrs Glassford said ''all care and respect'' would be taken during the Drybread project.

Prof Hallie Buckley, of the university's Department of Anatomy, told those at the Omakau meeting the research provided valuable information and a chance to find out more about the lives of Central Otago's early settlers.

Anglican vicar Penny Sinnamon said the project was a ''wonderful opportunity'', as there were ''unidentified graves all over the place'' at Drybread's cemetery.

Drybread Cemetery records date back to 1870 but it is believed burials took place before then.

For more information or to provide feedback can contact Mrs Glassford on (03)447-3955. Feedback can be made until August 12.

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