South Canterbury's Cemeteries 

Fairlie Cemetery - old section at the front. Newer section towards the back. Photo taken March 2002.  "Make sure you close the gate -- people are dying to get in."
On a cemetery tour - start with the gates. Fairlie Cemetery.

Adopt a cemetery in South Canterbury and take a photo of its entrance!  

Salisbury Park Crematorium is located approximately ten minutes drive from the south-west boundary of Timaru city, on Beaconsfield Road.  You go down Beconsfield Road (first road on the right past the Salt Water Creek Bridge) and just keep driving till you get there. Salisbury Park Crematorium, 385 Beaconsfield Road, Adair, Timaru, serving South Canterbury since 1967, now in March 2019 has an online database. Work began about 10 years ago when registration books were photocopied, indexed and typed, then cleaning, pruning and taking photos of plaques. Later, index cards were checked against the registration books, and discrepancies were isolated, evaluated and corrected, checking against newspaper records and original cremation records.
    The gardens remain open at all times and are not large and easily walked around. It would be classed as a small to medium crematorium by New Zealand standards. Founded in 1967 by Leslie William Betts who was the first owner of Betts Funeral Services (1983) Ltd. The crematorium is still privately owned and operated by a group of company directors and serves the South Canterbury district.  The cremation records are held at the crematorium. The phone number is (NZ country code 64) 3 6843251. The Custodian works between 8am & 5pm and then all bookings and enquiries are switched to a answering service.  The Crematorium is completely independent of the local Timaru cemetery.  The South Canterbury Museum, Perth St., Timaru also holds the crematorium records up to 1990 in their free collection. The Timaru District Council does not hold any records for the Salisbury Park Crematorium. 
Website offsite with photos of headstones. New Zealand's cremation rate is slightly higher than Australia's (69%), with a cremation rate in 2018 of 75% of all deaths.

Active local & district cemeteries: Timaru City, Pleasant Point, Temuka, Geraldine, Albury, Arowhenua, Otaio, Esk Valley, Fairlie, Burkes Pass, Twizel, Waimate, Otipua, Omarama, Hakataramea, Kurow.

Cemeteries further a field:

Christchurch Cemeteries Online 
Email Beverley for photos of headstones in the ChCh area and North Canterbury
Barbadoes Street Cemetery
Ashburton District
Crematorium Linwood, ChCh
NZ Cemeteries Online
NZ Cemetery Records   1800-2007 - ancestry
NZ War Graves

NZ Cemeteries

Finding death notices quickly

Timaru Herald online. Not everybody takes advantage of this service. Only 29% of the death notices that appear in the Timaru Herald are online in 2017. The service is optional.
Obituaries in the
New Zealand Herald

Aoraki Funeral Services - history email The firm welcomes requests via email. Records indexed by year then surname. There is no charge for obtaining past records. The funeral home has records going back as far as 1938 and these have been scanned and digitised. Their scanned handwritten records begin at January 1938. Previous records if there were any were not found here on site, the museum in Timaru doesn't have any previous historic records relating to the company and it is unknown what happened to them if there were any. Scanned documents contain the hand written records of the funeral director of the time. Mostly the scanned documents are the hand written arrangement a sheet, sometimes the newspaper notice is present or handwritten, sometimes there is the funeral account; the past records are certainly not consistent at all. The records are indexed by groups of years, then surname. Hall and Moore was established in 1904. Their principle clientele were mostly, but not exclusively, the Catholic population of Timaru. Hall and Moore was renamed Aoraki Funeral Home in Dec. 2004. In the past newspaper notices were not regularly cut out of the newspaper and put with any client records. Our current practise does not incorporate this either but it is definitely something the current owners want to do when time and resources allow. Sept. 2016.

Betts wayback recent. Timaru
Galbraith Funeral Services, Temuka
Christchurch Press
Last Post no longer online. Listings began June 2000. local entries Since 1937, the RSA Review has regularly published a listing of notified recent deaths of New Zealand ex-servicemen and women. Summer 2012 pdf. Last Post is published to honour those New Zealanders who have served their country and to allow readers to learn of the passing of comrades with whom they served.
Lamb & Hayward Funeral Directors CHCH Funeral Notices online
Harewood & Woodlawn
Funeral Directors in Canterbury
Funeral link directory

Press 2000 - 2007  2008  2009  2010 Death notice index. The CHCH libraries will do a lookup from the microfilm. Fill out contact form with details from the Press or email.
Tips for the Death Notice indexes
1) Names may not be as they appear; e.g. Jim may appear as James
2) There may be several different Death Notices for the same person.
3) More than one person may have the same name.
4) Not everyone who has died will have had a death notice.

Lookup volunteers Denise & Gary  [email protected] for death notices from the Christchurch Press from 6th January 2006 to current.  Includes Funeral Notices, Acknowledgements, In Memoriam Notices from the same date and page each day that has the Birth Notices and this can also include, Engagements, Wedding Anniversaries, Birthday greetings.

The NZ Society of Genealogists branches haves transcribed most of the cemeteries and the New Zealand Burial Locator CD (contains over 3 million names) or fiche is available at most libraries up and down the country and the South Canterbury monumental inscriptions are available for lookup via email. You can buy the South Canterbury tombstone transcripts. [Christchurch, 1982], 25 microfiche of South Canterbury monumental inscriptions for $42.50 from the NZSG.  Years covered on the fiche are listed below:

Geraldine Cemeteries  

Geraldine 1864- active [is forecast to have at least another 30 to 50 years from 2005] the old section
offsite [is expected to have another 100 years of use, from 2005] Arundel does not have concrete berms.
Kakahu 1910-1952  - St Aidans, Kakahu Cemetery on the Winchester / Hanging Rock Road. This cemetery is possibly owned by the Anglican Diocese in Christchurch and overseen by the Morrison family.
St Stephen's Peel Forest
Mesopotamia - Dr Sinclair
Timaru Herald, 23 August 1899, Page 2 Mr J. J. McCaskey is appointed a trustee of the Geraldine cemetery in place of Mr J. Mundell, who has resigned

Mackenzie County

Albury Cemetery 1903-1976
Burke's Pass Cemetery 1873-1982
Fairlie Cemetery 1885-1982
Mount Cook Station - Burnett family 1864-1957
St David's Anglican Church Raincliff 1861-1975
Twizel An access way into the rear of the Twizel cemetery was been created in 2013.
2006: A site along the Lilybank Road has been set aside for the new Tekapo Cemetery.

21st Dec. 2012 Timaru Herald Cemetery for Tekapo
The project began nearly nine years ago, with locals working under the banner of the Six Feet Under Group, and raised nearly $140,000. The initial construction was funded by club members, but has since been handed over to the Mackenzie District Council for administration and maintenance. Mackenzie district community facilities manager said the site, at the Lochinvar Subdivision, was 3863sqm. "It's probably the most spectacular place to be buried in South Canterbury."

Marlborough Express, 12 November 1896, Page 3
An unknown and unregistered grave was lately found in a cemetery near Albury. The caretaker knew nothing of the grave, and the police dug it up, and found a coffin containing the remains of a child. It is believed that a secret interment took place.

Albury Cemetery
Albury Cemetery

Claremont Novitiate 1890-1978

The New Zealand Gazette. Principal Edition, 31 August 2000. Closure of the Claremont Burial Ground, Timaru
I, Annette King, Minister of Health, make the following directions under the Burial and Cremation Act 1964 ("the Act"):
1. Under section 41 (1) of the Act, the denominational burial ground known as the Claremont Burial Ground, Timaru, being the land described in the Schedule to this notice ("the ground"), shall be closed, and burials there shall be discontinued from and including 2 March 2001.

29 May 2000
Ten Marist brothers buried in the cemetery alongside the former St Josephs novitiate house at Claremont house were disinterred and taken to the Catholic section of the Temuka cemetery. Most of the 10 brothers were buried at Claremont over a 40-year period from the 1930s.  It was decided to move them when the land was sold privately. The move allows relatives access to their resting place.

13 January 2001 Timaru Herald
For probably the best part of half a century a life-size concrete statue of the Marists' founder, Marcellin Champagnat, stayed put on its concrete and stone base at the former St Josephs novitiate at Claremont. Yesterday that came to an end. Kanga hammers and cranes were the order of the day as the now Saint Champagnat was surrounded in strops and hoisted on to the back of a truck for stage one of the journey to his new home. He's off to Invercargill, to the grounds of the town's Catholic high school Verdon College. Marist brother Brother Osmund MacNamara still teaches at the school and when the school's board of trustees learned the former novitiate had been sold 18 months ago, they were keen to obtain the statue of their founder. Born in 1789 the priest founded the Marist Brothers in 1817, with the aim of providing education to the children of the poor.
    The teaching brothers arrived in New Zealand in 1838. Their link with the old Claremont homestead goes back to 1932 when the house became a training centre for the brothers. It remained that until 1978. The concrete statue was one of two which remained in the grounds. The other, of Joseph, will not be moved as it was made of porcelain and would break if moved. Brothers previously buried in a cemetery on the property were reinterred at the Temuka cemetery last year. The statue's trip yesterday was relatively short - to Timaru where monumental masons McBrides will waterblast it, and give it a new paint job before crating it up for the journey south. And it seems travel is not new to the concrete likeness. Jim Anderson, spokesman for The Claremont Trust, the property's former owner, believes it was not new when it was installed at the novitiate probably in the 1950s. Although unsure of its history, Brother Osmund can remember the statue being at Claremont when he trained there in the mid 1950s. He was also involved in the building of the chapel which has been restored by Claremont's owner John West. A second statue of Saint Champagnat, thought to be identical to the Claremont one, was moved from the grounds of a Marist Brothers property at Tuakau when it was sold about 10 years ago. It is now in the grounds of St Johns College in Hamilton. Brother Osmund said the school's trustees felt it was appropriate for it to be moved as it would have greater significance to the school community than if it remained at Claremont. Assuming the restoration work to the statue is completed in time, Brother Osmund said it will be blessed and unveiled in March at the same time as the new Marist clubrooms at the school are opened. 

Farewell from Timaru 2007 doc.

St Marys Boys Orphanage Cemetery, Ngawhatu, Stoke Nelson.
There was another small burial ground for the Brothers and Priests behind the Orphanage. The two Brothers who were buried there were exhumed and reinterred in the Marist Brothers Cemetery at Claremont, Timaru in January 1965. They were Brother Celestine McPhelamey (died 1890) and Brother Liguori Donnelly (died 1897).

Waimate Cemeteries  
The 2ha cemetery, which dates back to 1869. The early trustees followed the policy of other cemeteries of the times and demarcated burial areas into religious denominations.

Waimate Maori Cemetery - 1861-1981
Waimate - Lawn 1949-1981, Old 1867-1981  
Waitangi / Te Akatarawa Station 1863-1974
Esk Valley St Mary's 1880-1981
Glenavy Cemetery 1914-1964
Hakataramea Cemetery - Old 1880s, public 1887-1982
St Michael's Churchyard, Waihao Downs 1918-1969
Morven Cemetery 1903-1957
Morven Maori burial ground  1895-1927
Otaio Cemetery 1896-1978
Pareora West 1870-1956
[is closed but allows second interments only]

The Timaru Herald | Wednesday, 19 March 2008
Waimate property information and cemetery details are now online.
The Waimate District Council's website has added a new mapping section. "People interested in purchasing property in Waimate or perhaps searching family history now have easy assess to on-line databases and maps," "To find `mapping on-line' simply log on to the council's website and click through from the navigation bar on the left side of the home page." The mapping page was designed by council officer Andrew Hare and it offers viewers several on-line services and download options, such as viewing maps of the Waimate district, and cemetery maps and data. An emergency management map shows sector post locations and areas, and the topographic map of the South Island allow viewers to zoom into any area with several special features such as distance measuring. The property section can be sourced searching by valuation number or physical address and people can find current valuation and rating information as well as historical data for the last 10 years.

Observer 14 September 1889 Page 17
" Show Me a Liar and I'll Show You a Thief."
A Timaru man will shortly be put on his trial for stealing a tombstone.

We've read of many crimes,
Which made us weep, at times
The thief who stole the stone
Of course engraved thereon
A lying epitaph !

Visiting Local Cemeteries
Fairlie Cemetery
Fairlie Cemetery
Berms are laid to ensure a consistency of straightness, tidiness and ease of plot identification.

Death Notices from The Press and The Timaru Herald are online e.g.
COTTLE, Mary Frances Private WAAC (UK) WW2 - On December 9, 2012 peacefully at Moreh Home, Fairlie, aged 95 years. Loved wife of the late Richard Grinham and the late William Cottle, precious mother and mother-in-law of Jennifer and Martin Cordes (Fairlie), loved Nan of Bede and Emma (Lincoln), and a proud great-grandmother of Benjamin. Loved youngest daughter of the late Charles and Mary Powell, of Bulphan, Essex, England. Many thanks to Alison Neill and her staff at ''Moreh'' and to Dr Lewis Arundel for their love and care for Mary. A Service for Mary will be held on Friday, December 14, at St Stephens Anglican Church, Kirk Street, Fairlie at 2.00 p.m., followed by private cremation. Donations to Moreh Home, would be appreciated and may be left at the service.  Betts Funeral Services Timaru ph 03 688 4033

Transcribing Cemeteries

More than likely a change of style brought about by cost.
The early settlers to New Zealand found it important to have their birthplace, Ship of arrival in New Zealand and sometimes occupation on the headstones and no mention of the children's names. Often there is a long religious verse or poem. Later generations seem to list children and particularly family lost in war deaths. The birthplace no longer seems important nor are the poems or religious verses used as much but sometimes a verse from a popular song can be found. Recent plaques which are much smaller, not as tall and seem to mention family only. You can also see the trend in the death notices and memorials published in newspapers. A few of the more recent headstones were different shapes: for example one was a guitar, another was a heart, and there was even a surfboard one. Older headstones  at Timaru Cemetery have included marble carved anchors, ship's wheel and angels. Put it down to changing times, and changing attitudes to death and ways of grieving. It may also have something to do with the cost of letters on plaques and headstones. In a Crematorium Park one was restricted as to how many letters could be put on the plaques and the ever rising costs involved.

Mount Peel Station Cemetery
Mount Peel Station Cemetery

Historic Cemeteries Conservation Trust of NZ photo of St. Anne's and Mt Peel.
Its not recommended to put the street address in a death notice. 

Michael Vance 4 August 2007 The Press (Christchurch)

`Rough Mike's real name was Michael Carriman -- at least that's near enough for the present purpose, and as you may imagine from the sound of it, he had a bit of the Irishman in him." The Press was attempting to explain the almost alien race reaching New Zealand in growing numbers -- Irish Catholics -- and it was doing so by way of a sentimental tale. That applied to the Mackenzie Country, where the Irish missed out on land leases -- the Scots and English got those -- but bore the brunt of the hard labouring. That day The Press reported a big snow in the Mackenzie and a "very wretched, untimely end" -- death from exposure. Robert Russell, a cook at Grey's Hill Station (now Greys Hills), having received a letter from his wife stating "that some of the children was (sic) seriously ill", started to walk home, presumably to what was then known as Fairlie Creek. "At the time, from 18 to 20 inches of snow was on the ground. He managed to get as far as Whales Creek, about 17 miles, and eight miles from Burkes Pass, where he was subsequently found dead. "From the position of the body it is evident he must have been having a drink of water from the creek, as he was lying in that position when found." The Mackenzie Country was comparatively recently settled. Its residents were still learning its demanding ways, including the need to get the merinos into sheltered pasture for the winter. The big snows of the early years killed huge numbers of sheep. "The Clayton station owners, Messrs Hamilton Bros, will suffer considerably, and it is said they are negotiating with a few farmers near Timaru to grass the whole of their sheep -- about 95,000. "Not a blade of grass nor a tussock is to be seen on the whole of their extensive area of land."

Two hunters in the Tasman Valley were caught in the storm.
Messrs Parker and Welsh had begun their journey home to Fairlie Creek in sunshine and a mere foot of snow. "However, the two gentlemen, the latter of whom was riding on horseback, had not gone more than about three miles when what is now termed the great snowstorm commenced. "So thick was the fall that it was impossible to see more than 20 yards ahead of them. Mr Parker quickly lost sight of Mr Welsh and so he was left to himself." The men were lucky to survive. One spent the night in the deepening snow, warmed only by two wet horse blankets and "and a whiff of his pipe during the night". The other man, Welsh, fought his way to Balmoral homestead through eight-foot drifts. The corpse was brought to Fairlie Creek and an inquest held on the Tuesday morning. The verdict was death from exposure. The burial took place the same day. Deceased leaves a widow and four children totally unprovided for." --Robert Russell is laid to rest. The Press, August 4, 1888

WOMAN OF DETERMINATION  9 July 2003 Timaru Herald
Pauline O'Leary's remarkable life journey came to an end on May 11, 2003. She was aged 77. A respected positive person, Mrs O'Leary will be remembered for her vision and determination in establishing South Canterbury Hospice. Her outstanding service to South Canterbury Hospice was publicly acknowledged when she was made the first life member and elected patron of the organisation. "Pauline will be remembered for her compassion, gentleness, sense of humour, her sincere and kindly interest in people and her strength of purpose to follow her dream for a hospice service in South Canterbury," president of South Canterbury Hospice Alan Munro said. Mrs O'Leary (nee Whyte) was born at Ashwick Flat near Fairlie on December 8, 1925. Born the third child and first daughter to Leslie and Mary Whyte, Mrs O'Leary had an early rural upbringing which consisted of completing farm chores every morning before school. As well as hand-milking cows, it was Mrs O'Leary's responsibility to cook breakfast (chops, eggs and fried potatoes) for her family. Her journey to Ashwick Flat School school consisted of a 5-mile horse and gig ride on a grassed road. In her early high school years she was sent to Timaru to care for her grandmother. While living in Timaru she attended the Convent School - a place that was not among her happiest memories. After completing her schooling at Fairlie High School, Mrs O'Leary was interviewed and accepted for Teachers' Training College. Unfortunately her dreams of being a teacher were shelved when the Second World War broke out. Under the manpower enforcement scheme, Mrs O'Leary was placed at the Fairlie Flax Factory. Despite the hard work, Mrs O'Leary had lots of fun at the factory and made some life-long friends. After her father died, Mrs O'Leary and her family shifted to Timaru where they ran a boarding house. Every Saturday Mrs O'Leary would do the boarders' washing in the copper.
With her mother's help she successfully dodged the manpower and went on to find work in the Rehabilitation and Income Tax Department. It was at a dance at the St Pats Hall in Timaru where Mrs O'Leary met her husband Bernie. The young couple lived in a cottage in Victoria Street before they took a position on a Levels farm. As well as providing meals and morning tea for eight shearers, Mrs O'Leary had a new baby to care for. In 1956 Mr and Mrs O'Leary bought a farm at Kakahu called Ranui.
Sixteen years and seven children later they built a new home on their section. Organisations such as the Women's Division Federated Farmers and Country Women's Institute (CWI) played an integral part of Mrs O'Leary's life. It was through a CWI class that she discovered one of her greatest joys - painting. A love of travel took Mrs O'Leary on a pilgrimage to Israel, Lourdes and Oberammergau. Mrs O'Leary completed a three-year national course on religious studies and set up a prayer group. A keen gardener and nature lover, Mrs O'Leary's vision for a hospice for South Canterbury first came about in 1987 while she was recovering from a life-saving cancer operation. She was quoted in Notable South Canterbury Women as saying: "I was getting better and thought there must be a reason for that - there's something quite important I should be doing." Mrs O'Leary shared her dream with her prayer group and with their help started a letter-writing campaign to try and drum up support. In 1989 a public meeting was held in Pleasant Point and a bank account opened. Mrs O'Leary became chairman of the steering committee and set about establishing South Canterbury Hospice. For some years she was a member of the management committee, serving as the first president. Mrs O'Leary showed great empathy to patients and their family and had a good rapport with hospice staff. Not only did she talk to many community groups about hospice but she also allowed her paintings to be reproduced on note cards which not only raised many dollars but brought great pleasure to those who received them. The affection and respect the community had for Mrs O'Leary was evident from the large number of people who attended her funeral service. One of Mrs O'Leary favourite quotes summed up her life nicely - "Whatever you can do or dream you can do - begin it; magic and power lie in boldness."

aetat 87
aet., aetat.,  aetatis (Latin: Aged).  (at the age of)

Cemetery district costs 2014 -15 Single Plot / Interment 2015 -16 Single Plot / Interment Plot for ashes 2014 -15 / 2015 -16 2017-18 Adult Plot / Weekday interment fee
Timaru $900 / $1000 $950 / 1050 $210 /$220 $1000/ S1100 plus $310 for concrete beam
Waimate $725 $810 / $790 $175 / $200 $790/ $1030
Mackenzie plot fees $594 / interment fee $1177 plot fees $605/ interment fee $1200 $502 / $512 $530/ interment fee $1240.

11 Nov. 2019. There was strong wind early in the morning Friday 8 Nov. 2019. A tree came down damaging a few headstones in the Geraldine Cemetery. Geraldine Cemetery is one of six cemeteries maintained by the Timaru District Council alongside those at Timaru, Temuka, Pleasant Point, Woodbury, and Arundel. An extension of Timaru Cemetery is at the early planning stage because the site is expected to reach capacity within eight to 10 years. Council expects Geraldine to reach capacity in 75 years, Temuka and Pleasant Point in 100, and Woodbury and Arundel in 50.

 Every single funeral is different. Funerals often become family reunions, with far-flung family members often only seeing each other once someone dies.

Timaru Herald, 6 June 1882, Page 3
Reading the inscriptions on the head-stones in the newspaper I came on one the reverse of the rest. Noting down the inscription and following verse :
Pass on, don't waste your time
O'er bad biography and bitter rhyme,
For what I am this crumbling dust ensures,
And what I was is no affair of yours.

Instead of passing on, the above verse only incited my curiosity. I found out that the deceased had been a confirmed Atheist, and his last words on his deathbed were to bury his remains with the feet towards the west, to that the sun, when setting, might shine on his face.
Oh! health is wealth, and life is long,
And earth is fairer, too;
When man is fit and well
The skies are always blue.
So guard your health; your joy increase
Your life from ills secure
From pain and trouble.

South Canterbury NZGenWeb Project