Public opening at old cemetery

Project spokesman Fergus Sutherland inspects one of two new interpretation panels at the Chaslands Heathfield Cemetery, which will be reopened on Saturday. Photo: Richard Davison
Project spokesman Fergus Sutherland inspects one of two new interpretation panels at the Chaslands Heathfield Cemetery, which will be reopened on Saturday. Photo: Richard Davison
History and nature rub shoulders at an old cemetery in the Catlins.

It was identified in 2016 for a tidy-up by Catlins Historical Society member Mike McPhee during his and wife Anabel's research for their book The Catlins and the Great War 1914-1918 and community members have since united to renew access to the Chaslands Heathfield Cemetery, near Papatowai.

Last year project overseers Catlins Promotions received grant funding of $4000 to remove ''rampant'' broom, and develop a track and car park for the remote cemetery, which opened in 1898.

Spokesman Fergus Sutherland said although the project had taken longer than expected to complete, he and the many contributing volunteers were delighted it would be formally reopened on Saturday, at 2pm.

''Finishing touches have just been put in place, and we have two interpretation panels, allowing visitors to find out more about the area's fascinating history, and unusual natural history.''

He said the cemetery was graced by mature stands of the rare South Island tree Olearia lineata (twiggy tree daisy), making it stand out from the surrounding landscape.

The final burial recorded at the cemetery was in 1941 and it closed officially in 1969.

Mr Sutherland said descendants from across New Zealand were expected at the reopening, which is a public event.

richard.davison@odt.co.nz

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