Babies' graves trashed

By Alison King -
Vandals left a trail of destruction in the Sala St Cemetery over the weekend. Photo / Andrew Warner
Vandals left a trail of destruction in the Sala St Cemetery over the weekend. Photo / Andrew Warner

Rotorua parents are horrified and upset that vandals could tear apart the gravesites of stillborn babies and other children at the Sala St Cemetery.

Crosses have been pulled out of the ground or knocked over, ornaments smashed and toys strewn across the grass in the children's burial area, where more than 50 children have been buried.

Jennifer Anastasi, who volunteers for stillbirth and neonatal death charity Sands Rotorua, yesterday rang around parents who had lost children to let them know about the vandalism.

"It's the most heartless, cruellest thing I have ever seen," she said.

"It's absolutely horrible. Families who have lost babies have not had a long period of time with them to make memories and they spend a considerable amount of time after a child has died to create those. The cemetery is an incredibly special place to them, it's a part of their parenting and it's sad that someone should take that away.

"We've just finished Baby Loss Awareness Week and this time of year is hard enough already."

Mrs Anastasi said she cried when she saw the damage.

The vandalism was discovered by a Rotorua man visiting his father's grave yesterday and he contacted the Rotorua Daily Post.

He said he would be "rope-able" if it had been his child's grave that had been attacked.

"I was looking for other family graves when I saw it," said the man who did not want to be named. "It was horrible. I couldn't believe what they had done. It shows no respect. It's quite significant damage.

"The cemetery is a place of peace, where you go when you want time out. It's a sacred place."

He said a pot plant bought by his mum and place on his grandparents' grave had also been smashed.

Rotorua District Council parks and reserves manager Garry Page said he would ensure the damage was cleaned up.

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