What does the Waimate Cemetery have in common with London’s Hyde Park?
They have both been awarded the Green Flag Award – an international standard which recognises and rewards parks and green spaces that provide high-quality and innovative recreational experiences.
The award was the culmination of an extensive application process and inspection of the site by Green Flag judges.
Criteria included how well the park was managed, planned for, and presented.
The judges commented that it was evident the site is managed by a passionate and committed team who go the extra mile and take pride in the place they are responsible for.
“Changing attitudes are seeing cemeteries being used for recreational activities instead of being places that people avoid,” the judges’ report said.
“Most commonly, people visit cemeteries to walk and enjoy the peaceful environment. Increasing interest in genealogy and the history in the cemeteries is another drawcard.
“The Waimate Cemetery is full of history and has become a destination for those looking for family members or those interested in history. Stories told by the headstones trace the early settlement of Waimate, the scourge of tuberculosis, influenza and scarlet fever are reflected on inscriptions.”
Council Parks and Reserves Manager Alison Banks said the Green Flag Award is testament to the hard work, commitment and dedication of Council’s Sexton and Gardener, Myles Knightly and the Parks and Reserves team.
“This is such a good benchmark for our team to work towards to ensure we retain our quality mark,” she said.
“The cemetery is a place of reflection, remembrance, and tranquillity, that is full in history and the Waimate District Council is committed to ensuring that it remains a place of beauty and serenity for generations to come.”
It was also important to acknowledge the local Scout group and its leaders who support the preparation for ANZAC Day and working bees to pick up the litter blown into the hedge line, Alison said.
Waimate is one of the smallest councils and very few cemeteries have been awarded a Green Flag.
The Old Cemetery was established in 1871 and is the resting place of New Zealand’s first woman Doctor Margaret Cruikshank. The Lawn Cemetery is where New Zealand’s 29th Prime Minister, Norman Kirk, is buried and where the Waimate Services Cemetery is located.