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Ask Phoebe: Old headstones need a bit of work

By Phoebe Falconer

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Never drive through a flooded road without knowing what the potential hazards may be. Photo / Paul Taylor
Never drive through a flooded road without knowing what the potential hazards may be. Photo / Paul Taylor

Would you please try to find out:

(a) Which member of the new council staff is responsible for the Symonds St cemetery?
(b) What requirements and restrictions are there on the repair of old graves and headstones which are more than 100 years old?

Many of the headstones have been pushed over and damaged by idiots and many of the graves have deteriorated badly.

- Ian Sexton, Pukekohe.

Mark Bowater, the ever-helpful manager of local and sports parks for Auckland Council, says the Symonds St Cemetery is cared for by the West City Parks maintenance crew, under a contract held by City Parks Services. The contract allows for the cemetery to be mown fortnightly and loose litter gathered three times a week. Other tasks done as required, and classed as unscheduled maintenance tasks. Unfortunately this area is highly susceptible to vandalism. The maintenance contract does not include damage to headstones.

Gravestone repairs are classed as projects. Repairs to gravestones are carried out with no distinction between recent ones and gravestones that are more than 100 years old. If repair and restoration is necessary, it will be done as the budget allows.

From 1999 to 2002, the council spent $200,000 on headstone restoration and committed $40,000 a year for the next 10 years, starting in 2009-2010 when 28 headstones and fragments were identified, catalogued and stored or reinstated.

All restoration work is carried out by a specialist stonemason under the supervision of a qualified conservator and done in accordance with the 1996 Symonds St Cemetery Conservation Plan.

There is now a condition assessment database of all 1200 graves which enables work to be prioritised according to condition and historical significance.

What is the correct way to drive through a flooded road? We used to drive slowly through these but now everyone seems to drive as if they are in a speedboat, especially the four-wheel-drives, and they make a big wave that makes the flooding worse at the sides if there are houses there and for the cars behind them. I mean if it's too deep don't go, but driving at a reasonable speed will get you through without flooding your engine, or are modern cars better protected under the engine?

- Peter Rosby, Auckland.

Jack Biddle, motoring advice manager for the AA, has this to say:

For starters you should never drive through a flooded road without first knowing what the potential hazards may be (those you can't see) and the water depth.

Never assume that your vehicle will be fine based on watching other vehicles driving through. As a guide, the water level should be no more than halfway up your vehicle's wheel height.

The engine air intake track must never draw in water. If it does and water enters the internal combustion chamber, the engine will flood and stall.

As far as speed goes, our recommendation is to travel at a brisk walking pace and to keep momentum up once you have entered the flooded area.

Equally important is the need to dry the brakes immediately after clearing the flooded area. Three light brake pedal taps during driving should be sufficient.

- NZ Herald

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