2006-01-01

New Zealand Cemetery Records

I mentioned in my previous post that the Porirua Library genealogy section has the New Zealand cemetery records on microfiche.

This collection of information contains a variety of information about cemeteries within New Zealand. Some of it provided by the cemteries and councils and some of it by volunteers. For a particular cemetery it can contain maps of the cemetery, historical information, burial records, cremation records and even transcripts of headstones (the latter usually provided by volunteers).

The headstone transcriptions can sometimes contain useful information about partners, children, birth and death dates, etc. Most of the entries include a location of the grave within the cemetery so you can find it easily should you visit.

To start a search through the records it’s easiest if you have the death certificate information. This often lists the cemetery where the person was buried or cremated. This is useful for areas that have a large number of cemeteries. If you don’t have the name of the cemetery it becomes a matter of looking through each cemetery within the area. Which can be quite a job if it’s a large area!

As an example, I had the death certificate of Charles Double, died 4 Aug 1921. From that it showed he was buried at Waikumete cemetery. There is a booklet at the library that lists all the cemeteries in alphabetical order and the microfiche the information is on. This is very useful as with just a cemetery name it can be difficult to find sometimes.

I looked up the microfiche for Waikumete and it contained a map and historical information followed by various indexes of names for the people buried there depending on what section they were in. I looked up ‘Double’ and it gives an index number. Later on in the fiche I found the entry for that number giving the entry:

“In loving memory of Charles Double died 4 Aug 1921 aged 74 years and his beloved wife Ellen Elizabeth died 21 Oct 1927 aged 81 years.”

It also gave the location of the grave. I’ll be heading up there sometime to take a photo.

Some entries don’t have transcriptions, they just have the burial record. This was the case for another entry I was looking for. I knew the person was buried in Whakatane but not what cemetry. I looked through each cemetery looking for the name and found them in the index for Hillcrest cemetry. They only had burial records so no transcription but it did give the date of death, age at death and the plot number with a map.

Some cemetery records are available online but it requires going to each individual cemetery or council site and using their own search protocol, or reading through PDF documents. I’ve not done this yet but will with some of my other records and see how easy it is to use.

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