Grave issues at cemetery cause family to complain

Disappointed ... Robyn and Richard Hattrill are angry with the conditions of Robyn's parents' grave site. PHOTO: BEN ANDREWS

‘‘Fix it.’’

Those are the two words Robyn Hattrill has to say to the Gore District Council.

Mrs Hattrill’s parents are buried at the Charlton Park cemetery, but since December, their graves have become a ‘‘waterlogged’’ mess.

Mrs Hattrill said she was angered by the conditions around her parents’ grave.

‘‘We want to be able to walk up here. Pay our respects and give them some flowers,’’ Mrs Hattrill said.

She and her family had been unable to get near the front of the headstone due to the ground condition, she said.

‘‘We’re really angry. It doesn’t matter if they were 100 years old. It’s just not good enough.’’

Mrs Hattrill and her sister had tried to contact the council on multiple occasions.

She first contacted the council about the condition of the site last year, she said.

‘‘They assured things would be looked into and fixed.’’

Months after that, the ground is now in the same condition.

‘‘We’re just disappointed that we have contacted them so many times and it hasn’t been addressed.’’

Mrs Hattrill’s husband, Richard, said he was disappointed by the condition of the grave.

‘‘It actually got smelly there for a while,’’ Mr Hattrill said.

He had little luck getting a response from the council half of the time, he said.

Gore District parks manager Keith McRobie said he completely understood the family’s feelings and concerns about the ponding around the grave site.

‘‘Unfortunately, there was no simple solution to the issue.

‘‘A lot of time and effort has gone into trying to sort out the draining issues.

‘‘These include fixing a leaking water pipe, drilling holes and backfilling them with stone and clearing the main drains,’’ Mr McRobie said.

The ongoing drainage issues at the cemetery were mainly caused by heavy soils, which naturally held water and did not drain easily, he said.

Staff installed new drains and backfilled them to the surface with drainage chip to ensure surface water was moved away.

An open drain was dug out behind the main hedge to redirect any run-off from land behind the cemetery.

Staff would look at other solutions once the ground dried out, as there was only so much that could be done while it was so wet, he said.