I'll cut cemetery grass, says disgusted relative

By Anna Ferrick

Graeme and Irene Downey say the lawns at the Hastings Cemetery are currently the worst they have ever seen them. Photo / Duncan Brown
Graeme and Irene Downey say the lawns at the Hastings Cemetery are currently the worst they have ever seen them. Photo / Duncan Brown

One local man is vowing to mow the lawns of the Hastings Cemetery himself if nothing is done about the "disgusting" state they are in.

Graeme Downey and his wife Irene paid a visit to the cemetery on Sunday afternoon where Mr Downey's mother, father, sister and aunt were buried.

Mr Downey said it appeared the lawns in some parts of the cemetery had not been tended to for more than a month.

"I've never seen it so bad. I mow the odd lawn so I know they haven't been done in quite a while.

"You can't even read some of the headstones because there's grass in the way.

"I'd like to know how they can say weeds this size have grown in a week."

Mr Downey had been visiting the cemetery for 27 years and said only once before had he been tempted to mow the lawns himself.

"I came down here and did the whole strip, actually I did the strip behind it, too.

" But it wasn't as bad as this, this is disgusting."

He said he overhead another group of visitors complaining about the state of the lawns on Sunday and called everyone in the area over for an impromptu meeting.

"They all said the same thing, that it's just shocking. So I said 'I'll take charge, I'll make sure it gets done'."

Mr Downey said there were several visitors from out of town amongst the group and he would like to know why his rates weren't going towards keeping the cemetery tidy.

"There were probably 20, 25 people all with the same problem.

"You would have thought they'd keep it tidy for Labour Weekend when there's bound to be people visiting.

"It's just not nice to come and see your loved ones when it's like this.

"It's degrading."

If the lawns had not been mown by the end of the week, he would do them himself, he said.

Hastings District Council group manager for community facilities and programmes Alice Heather said staff had checked the height of the grass in the block concerned yesterday afternoon and were satisfied the current mowing regime was keeping the growth under control.

She said the block was due for its next mow before the weekend.

"The lawns at the Hastings Cemetery are mown on a 10-day cycle. This cycle is followed as closely as possible taking into account a number of variables, including the workload of the staff and weather conditions. When a new mowing cycle begins, the staff member works from the back of the cemetery to the front."

She said extra effort was always made ahead of holidays and special events such as Mother's Day and Anzac Day, however she did not comment on why the grass had not been mown before Labour Weekend.

Ms Heather said variable weather conditions could cause some small delays in the maintenance programme.

She said the council employed four staff to look after the Hastings, Puketapu, Havelock North and Mangaroa cemeteries, and the crematorium.

Their duties included assisting with burials, cremations and ashes interment.

They also mow lawns, pick up litter, look after the gardens and hedges, and take care of administration.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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