Pic: BTG110121Allwood2 Caption: Erica Allwood's grave after the planting.
Pic: BTG110121Johnson1 Caption: The grave of Lillah Annie Johnson was being backed into by cars.
Pic: BTG110121Johnson2 Caption: Now the grave of Lillah Annie Johnson has been restored. Tony Lozell, a local builder, donated and installed the new side boards. A group made a new wooden plaque.
Pic: BTG110121Hercock1 Caption: Before the Friends have cleaned the Hercock headstone.
Pic: BTG110121Hercock2 Caption: After the Friends have cleaned the Hercock headstone.
By Steve Carle
Friends of Mangatainoka-Pahiatua Cemetery has been in operation for three-and-a-half years now and has concentrated on cleaning the headstones in the older part of the cemetery.
"There was a grey look to the cemetery when we started," said leader of the group, Anne Nelson. "It was really morbid and unpleasant. People would come through and say how depressing it was and how they didn't like coming here.
"Now you can see the beautiful marble work which was hidden before - it's amazing craftmanship. More importantly, you can read the names of the people who are here.
"Often the lead lettering had dropped out of the marble gravestones. Where we have found that lettering, we have put it back in.
"Just taking off all the lichen and all the black mould has meant that they're readable. Names such as Wakeman, Sedcole and Checkley can be found.
"To me, its an open-air history museum. You can walk around now and find the stories of all these early Pahiatua families.
"For the past 18 months we've been trying to brighten it up with flowers. People in the community have donated tough groundcovers, we're always happy to get them. There will be some trees going in too.
"We've had plants from local people including Glynis de Castro. A few people have done bits and pieces of chainsawing. Mulch was donated recently by local arborist Kevin Nicholson. Regular helpers have been Janie Wiffen, Rox Orange, Sue Adams and Camille Brandon Keedwell.
"Volunteers have painted cast iron railings. What I'm really looking for is a bit of help with some of these jobs. If somebody is retired or unemployed, wanting to help, could sit on a stool and do some painting, that would be a great help.
"Things that are broken and need fixing, such as where a top or a plaque has come off, need mending. People into gardening are welcome to come and do weeding. Please contact me on 022 088 6061."