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Remembering . . . Pukerau Cemetery Support Group Trust member Karen Pullar gathered information about Agnes and John Turner who were buried in an unmarked grave in the cemetery and then approached family members to ask permission for a plaque to be placed on the grave.

Good progress continues to be made in the makeover of the Pukerau Cemetery.

The work is being overseen by the Pukerau Cemetery Support Group Trust.

Trust member Margaret Pullar said trees had been removed, a new shelter built and a new fence had been erected around the Catholic section of the cemetery.

“People are commenting they have never seen the cemetery looking so good,” Mrs Pullar said.

“It’s very rewarding.”

It was thanks to the generosity of businesses and the community the work could be completed, she said.

“The vast majority of the materials and labour has been donated.”

Descendants of people buried in the cemetery have been making contact and some have become involved in the project.

Two such people are Robin and Jill Grealish, of Dunedin, who are related to James Grealish, the first person to be buried in the cemetery.

The late 2-year-old’s grave was found outside the Catholic cemetery fence and so the fence was shifted.

Two pieces of marble from the Catholic Church in Mataura will be made into plaques commemorating James’s interment and the other at the entrance marking the opening of the cemetery in 1880.

Trust member Karen Pullar, who is based in Wellington, has been researching to find information about the people buried in unmarked graves at the cemetery.

There are 41 people buried in 20 unmarked graves.

Ms Pullar said once she found out information about who was buried in the unmarked graves she then tried to contact descendants to get permission for a plaque to be placed on the grave.

“We’ve managed to do that in 80% of the cases,” Ms Pullar said.

It had taken her about two years to find the information using a variety of online resources.

“I’ve scoured Papers Past to verify details.”

Finding information about the deceased and then tracking down descendants was a little like putting the pieces of a jigsaw together.

“Some of the people got in touch following the article in The Ensign.”

Inside the shelter would be display boards listing the 200 people who had served in the Boer War, World Wars 1 and 2 and other conflicts up to the Vietnam War, as well as a map of the cemetery and a history of the area.

Ms Pullar’s next project was to gather information about those residents in the area who served their country in wartime.

It is hoped to have a function celebrating the improvements in April next year.