Families of infants buried at the Waikumete Cemetery say decorations were bulldozed and then thrown out
By Michael Morrah
The Auckland Council has apologised after contractors damaged the graves of stillborn babies at the country's largest cemetery.
Families of infants buried at the Waikumete Cemetery say decorations were bulldozed and then thrown out.
Grieving families wanted answers from staff at Waikumete Cemetery.
Lynette Lewis' daughter was buried at the cemetery. On Saturday, the site was bulldozed.
“They've just demolished it all,” says Ms Lewis. “There's no heart in that. This is where you come to grieve and put your memories down and it's all gone.”
Council staff say they were doing planned maintenance work, but Karen O'Sullivan says decorations at her granddaughter’s grave were swept up and thrown out. She even took pictures of the contents of a skip bin.
“I burst into tears – couldn't believe it,” says Ms O’Sullivan. “It was beyond my comprehension.”
“There's a difference between maintenance and what we saw when we came down here yesterday,” says plot owner Roger Sims.
The council says it was clearing areas where decorations should not have been. But it admits the work was done recklessly.
It issued a statement saying, “We should be treating people as we would expect to be treated in this case. We sincerely apologise to people that are hurt in this situation.”
Council staff did put up signs warning about the maintenance work in September. But some of the signs fell down and the families say they should have been contacted personally before the work started.
The council says it will work with families to rectify the situation and build new areas. But that may not wash with those who feel their sites have been desecrated.
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