An official ceremony is being held to acknowledge the reopening of Queenstown Tāhuna Cemetery/Urupā next Thursday (21 December) on upper Brecon Street. It will be open to the wider community.
Queenstown Lakes District Council is hosting the ceremony in partnership with Kāi Tahu Mana Whenua and with the support of Skyline.
Part of the cemetery’s grounds were closed following a severe weather event in September. Significant work has since taken place to restore the cemetery including the careful and considered removal of over 700 tons of silt and debris.
Mayor Glyn Lewers says he’s pleased that work has been completed in time for the area to be reopened to the community for the Christmas break.
“This has been hard on people with loved ones interred in the affected area and we thank them for their patience and understanding while restoration work was taking place.
“In celebrating the cemetery’s reopening, Thursday’s poroporoāki ceremony will acknowledge and address the significant impact on our communities, past and present.”
The affected part of the cemetery will need to be temporarily reclosed in mid-January to allow for grass to be sown and to ensure safety while forestry clearing work recommences further uphill.
As well as the extensive work to restore the cemetery, a large-scale operation to remove forestry debris from the front face of Bob’s Peak is underway. This is anticipated to take several months.
Work is also taking place to install a debris fence above Reavers Lane, where excavated fill had travelled down the catchment and into a stormwater culvert. The debris fence is a proactive step Council authorised under emergency powers to reduce risk of further damage or flooding during significant rainfall events. Methodology options to address the material that remains in the catchment are currently being evaluated.
These restoration and hazard management work programmes have been managed as part of the recovery efforts after the 21 September severe weather event.
Since the 22 September State of Emergency was terminated in late September, Council has operated under a Civil Defence transition period which will expire on Saturday 16 December. Local transition periods assist with recovery by providing councils powers to manage, co-ordinate, or direct recovery activities. The recovery work programme has been supported by Skyline and a range of geotechnical specialists.
Mayor Lewers acknowledges the efforts that have been invested during this recovery period.
“The recovery phase after a major event is just as critical as the emergency response. As we exit out of the transition period, I’d like to express thanks to everyone who has contributed to the recovery efforts and who continue to support the ongoing work programme.”
Independent from the safety and restoration works, the Council’s Monitoring and Enforcement office is undertaking investigative work under the relevant legislation.