Topic: History of Te Puke Cemetery

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History of Te Puke Cemetery by D M Mutton with acknowledgement to Papers Past, National Library of New Zealand (July 2017).

On 13th October 1882 the NZ Herald reported from a meeting of the Crown Lands Board that the Te Puke Cemetery site recommended by the Chief Surveyor had been approved.

Two years later on the 6th of November 1884 the Bay of Plenty Times reported that the Tauranga County Council would “not object to be appointed as trustees to the Te Puke Cemetery, but only until local trustees are appointed.”

The Bay of Plenty Times of 27 February 1889 reports a thriving settlement in Te Puke with the prospect of becoming a large produce-exporting district.  There is no church or police station and “the probable reason was that the settlers are too good to require them”.  Religious services were held in the hall [No 2 Road] every Sunday.  Police were stationed at Maketu and Tauranga.

Although there was a reserve set apart for a public cemetery it was significant that the settlement “cannot run it owing to the healthiness of the district deaths being so few and far between that when one occurs it is quite an event” Since the settlement started there have not been more than half a dozen deaths and of these half were not settlers and of the few settlers who have died, one of these few was by accident.  The total population is somewhere about 300 so the death rate is “proof positive” of how healthy the whole settlement is. 

By 4th October the same year the Bay of Plenty Times report a good many enquiries for land and visitors could see the enormous strides which Te Puke had made in 10 years of settlement and could not fail to see what might be done with available lands along the coast.  A population of 200 was expected when the Bank of NZ sold their 7000 acres of the Rangiuru Estate.  They remark that Te Puke folk have not after 10 years put their cemetery reserve to its intended use. Until this time Te Puke people were buried in the New Cemetery in Tauranga. One can be traced.

However the first recorded burial in Te Puke followed 9 months later in July 1890 when William Archibald McGhie died aged 24 years. He arrived in Te Puke with his parents  on the Lady Jocelyn in January 1881 from Balyalton, County Down, Ireland.  His father farmed 104 acres on No. 2 Road.

In following years there are deaths of many babies, children, young adults and older people, some as a result of accidents and drowning.  Also recorded on family headstones are the overseas deaths of victims of WWI, WW II and other wars.

Continuing the history of the cemetery, on 2 Sep 1891 the BPT reports that the Cemetery Trustees decided at a meeting that Mr Boucher should take a subscription list around the block to see what money they could collect to enable them to call tenders for clearing, ploughing, sowing grass and fencing the cemetery. “Mr Boucher at last agreed to take the unpleasant billet of dunning the settlers”.  [to dun – persistantly ask for payment]

Extensive rules for the management of the Te Puke Cemetery were drawn up in April 1892 and published in the Bay of Plenty Times.  Adult internment in ordinary grave or vault 15s.0d; Child under 10 years, 10s.0d; Child under 5 years, 7s.6d.  For the exclusive right of burial in perpetuity the payment of 10s.0d per 9 foot by 4 foot plot over and above the burial charges.

On 3 August 1910 a meeting recorded in the BPT of the Cemetery Board instructed the secretary to write to the lessee of a portion of the cemetery, requesting immediate payment of half a year’s rent.

The Chairman moved that the secretary write to those persons who have erected tombstones without  having taken out perpetual rights requesting them to comply with regulations without delay.

Cemetery Board Members in August 1910  were Mr M Ryburn – chairman, J A McGhie, H Douglas (sen), C Barrow, S Douglas and secretary. [R S Mutton not stated]


Cemetery Trustees were members of the Road Board – BPTimes 5 January 1910. [This was usual practice in some districts.]

Members of the Road Board BPT 28 Sep 1910: M Ryburn-chairman, H Douglas snr, S Douglas, J A McGhie, C Barrow, RS Mutton-secretary.

Other members of the Road Board noted from various early years were:  Phillip Bennett, Samuel Crawford, John Gain, George Dowell, T C Freeth, William Bird, Alfred Washer, William Brady, J C Galbraith, W P Harris.

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