Cemetery name change takes forward step

CHANGE: Friends of Avonhead Cemetery chairman Clive Paris is campaigning to add the word 'memorial' to the cemetery's name. PHOTO: MARTIN HUNTER

A cemetery which remembers the victims of the February 22, 2011, earthquake could get a name change.

Fendalton-Waimairi-Harewood Community Board voted on Monday to ask the city council to consider adding the word ‘memorial’ to Avonhead Park Cemetery’s name.

Friends of Avonhead Cemetery chairman Clive Paris was pleased with the community board decision.

The cemetery is home to an interment site opened on the first anniversary of the disaster.

Fifty-eight victims are memorialsed at Avonhead Park Cemetery, the city council said.

The group has been campaigning to change its name to reflect the interment site’s significance for 18 months.

“It’s a step forward, sanity prevails and it’s also wishes of families of the deceased who are buried there from the [February 22], 2011, earthquake,” he said.

“We’ve got a $300,000 [interment] there, and referred to as a memorial by former Mayor Bob Parker,” Mr Paris said.

Friends of Avonhead Cemetery will continue to urge city councillors to change the name.

“I think they [city councillors] should listen to the people rather than some ideology steeped in history that the name should be retained.”

Community board chairman Sam MacDonald said the board was against the city council staff’s recommendations, which was to keep the existing name.

“Community boards are there to represent the community. This council is commonly criticised for not being prepared to listen to the community,” Mr MacDonald said.

He expects the city council to consider the board recommendation in February next year.

If that recommendation is accepted, the city council will begin open a public consultation to change the name.

Board member Aaron Campbell said Friends of Avonhead Cemetery disagreed with the group on the “sensitive” subject of changing the name.

Mr Campbell was the only board member to vote against changing the name.

“Particularly around the Avonhead Park cemetery, any changes that have been made have been extremely contentious,” he said.

Mr Campbell also questioned why Friends of Avonhead Cemetery didn’t submit about the name change in the Cemeteries Bylaw review earlier this year.

But Mr Paris said his group did not need to submit in the bylaw review because the community board has been aware of this issue for 18 months.