Quite simply, no. I don’t feel it’s my right to interfere with the gravestones. I will push back any long grass or cut away a bramble or two but I never touch the gravestones themselves. Not everyone likes a gleaming gravestone, some prefer to see them aged and covered in history. If you plan to clean one of your family’s headstones, please take note of the cleaning dos and don’ts I have provided on the blog.
Never. They’ve been put there for a reason and it’s not my place to move them. Instead I will take photographs from several angles if the ornaments or flowers are blocking the view of the inscription.
If the piece is small enough for me to lift with no effort (bearing in mind I had spine surgery two years ago) I will try to turn it to find an inscription. In most cases the broken elements are far too heavy, or dangerous, to intefere with. I have to hope that the cemetery caretakers see fit to turn them.
Not yet. There are a couple of cemeteries I have recorded that I wish to investigate further, but I have not yet spoken to the council’s that operate the cemeteries to gain permission.
If an inscription is very worn and illegible I can refer to the New Zealand Births, Deaths and Marriages website and try to find a death record based on what information survives in the inscription. I can also double check against existing transcriptions. Another place that is handy to find burial and funeral information is Papers Past, a collection of digitised historic New Zealand newspapers. By searching dates and keywords such as surname and cemetery name announcements in the local paper may be found.
A basic digital camera that cost NZ$100 plus several large memory cards!
Yes and no! An individual record doesn’t take too long but the poor old mouse-hand gets very tired after inputting an entire cemetery. Plus, I do this in my spare time so it has to fit around the work that pays the bills.
No, I rely on donations from those seeking to get copies of the images to pay my petrol and the rest goes on donations to earthquake-hit local historic places such as St John’s Church in Hororata.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words and, in this case, it’s true. While much of the information on a gravestone is found in the transcription there is also much to learn from the design and symbols. Furthermore, we are prone to devastating earthquakes here in New Zealand, events that can decimate a cemetery in seconds. With no photographic images of the gravestones no-one would ever know what they once looked like.
It costs nothing to run the blog – my expenses are limited to travelling and massage for the RSI! The rest of the investment is my time.
Please leave any questions you may have in the comments section at the bottom of this post. I will update the FAQs regularly.