Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. Do you clean gravestones that you can’t read?

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.

2. Do you move items on the burial plot, such as flowers and ornaments, to get a better photograph?

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.

3. Have you lifted gravestones that have toppled face-down to read the inscriptions?

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.

4. Have you tried to find ‘lost’ gravestones in a cemetery by using probing or ground radar?

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.

6. Where do you find the burial or funeral information?

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.

7. What sort of camera do you use?

My mobile phone – doesn’t everyone?!

8. Does it take a long time to get the images on to the blog?

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.

9. Do you charge for photographs of gravestones?

No, but donations are welcome.

10. Why bother photographing gravestones when the inscriptions have already been recorded?

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.

11. Does it cost much to run the blog?

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.

Thank you.


3 thoughts on “Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  1. Heard your talk this morning at the NZSG and then looked at your site. We have relatives buried at Courtenay Cemetery and noticed some missing plus one incorrectly recorded. DAVIS – there are at least 2 more burials there – Lionel & Arnold and their graves are quite close to the church. GIOBATTA Paul, this should read Paul Giobatta SERRA and his wife Joan Dorreen SERRA is also in the same plot. The plaque has their names side by side. (these 2 people are my In-laws). Can you check your photos and see if the DAVIS ones have been missed and also correct the SERRA listing. (Not up with how to Blog so maybe you could email us instead). Thank you. Lindsay & Sandra Serra

    Posted by Sandra Serra | September 20, 2012, 5:37 am
  2. hi,i am really interested in gravesites,the older the better.have recently read about a site behind the burwood hospital in christchurch that was opened up 1900’s for a outbreak of i think scarllet fever,,(not to sure but it was a infectious illness),apparently it has been lost in growth,marehau road used to be called cemetery road??any idea on this or advice how i can trace it???

    Posted by emma hurst | March 31, 2013, 2:34 am
  3. If you very find yourself in the Los Agles, CA or San Diego,CA areas in the future and have time to go graving give me shout. I belong to a group called the Traveling Taphophiles and we meet once a month to tour cemeterys all over CA. We recently returned for a week long trip to New Orleans, LA were we graves for 4 full days. Anyway there is a lot to see in the LA area and we’d love to show your around.

    Posted by Glenn Joiner | December 18, 2014, 9:53 pm

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