Name change push for resting place of earthquake victims

NAME CHANGE: Friends of Avonhead Cemetery chairman Clive Paris would like to see the 'memorial' added to the name.

A name change is again being looked at for the final resting place of many earthquake victims.

The Fendalton-Waimairi-Harewood Community Board last week asked city council staff to consider adding “memorial” to the Avonhead Park Cemetery name and upgrading the cemetery’s entrance.

A city council staff report is expected in about two and a half months.

The report will also indicate if consultation with local residents will go ahead.

Board chairman Sam MacDonald said he would like to see the name changed.

“Staff are going to come up with the options on whether we can do it or not, initial discussions say we can, we just have to go out for further consultations,” Mr MacDonald said.

“It does kind of reflect some of the interments that are in the cemetery.”

The cemetery features a large circular memorial with a stone dedication in the centre.

The central feature of the memorial includes six plaques with text in English, Filipino, Maori, Russian, Spanish and Braille.

The voluntary group that helps look after the cemetery, Friends of Avonhead Cemetery, supported the latest effort to get the name changed.

It tried to change the name last year. However, the effort was halted by the city council due to not meeting the criteria for a name change.

City council staff said in November that adding “memorial” could confuse the public as there were other cemeteries with the same word in their names.

Staff also said the official memorial was in the central
city.

Said FOAC chairman Clive Paris: “I know we’ve got the [earthquake] memorial in town but this is the final resting place for a lot of the people [killed in the earthquake].”

Mr Paris did not believe additional public consultation was necessary as the Avonhead Community Group, which FOAC is a part of, supported the change.

Mr Paris said a “big” upgrade to the entrance was not necessary.

“I don’t know if we need to spend a lot of money on it, we have to be mindful of cost these days.”

World Peace Bell member David Bolam-Smith is optimistic about the latest effort for a name change.

“I feel quite strongly that it should be recognised for what it is. I know that the Japanese parents [of the earthquake victims] would like to see it changed to memorial cemetery
as well,” Mr Bolam-Smith
said.

He also supported modernising the entrance to the cemetery.

“The entrance signifies the importance of the location and what is actually located there,” Mr Bolam-Smith said.

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