Weeds and long grass have sprouted around the graves of returned service men and women in Whangarei's largest cemetery.

Patricia Doar and husband Derrick visited the RSA section as well as the oldest part of the Maunu cemetery last Sunday to visit their parents' graves and say the grounds were "noticeably bad".

Rain and warm weather has led to a burst of plant growth in recent weeks.

The Whangarei District Council looks after Maunu Cemetery and said considerable work had taken place this week.


Council cemetery manager Stephen Jenkins said his staff took great pride in their work, and it was upsetting to hear complaints from the public.

"We are currently having some issues with our lawn mowers, and as a result have proposed funding for a replacement mower in the 2016-2017 Annual Plan which is about to go out for consultation," he said.

Overgrown weeds and long grass were visible when the Northern Advocate visited the cemetery on Thursday.

The Doars said in four decades of visiting the cemetery, Sunday was the first time they had seen it so untidy.

"The grass was mowed without a catcher and the edges were overgrown. Also a gazebo with large pots had several centimetres of weeds and long grass growing in the entrance.

"I was quite saddened really because any cemetery, not just the RSA ones, is an emotional place where people go to and it should be well-maintained," she said.

Mrs Doar said she had visited cemeteries in Gallipoli, Florence and River Kwai in Thailand where they were lovingly tended and proudly presented by locals.

Such care, she said, showed how our fallen soldiers are cared for in countries so far from home.

At one cemetery, she and her husband had seen locals on their knees, trimming grass with scissors.

"I am not saying we have to do that here ... surely we can make a better effort here to respect those who fought for the freedom we enjoy today," Mrs Doar said.

Chris Harold, president of the Whangarei RSA, was not aware of the overgrown grass and weedsbut planned to visit the cemetery late yesterday.

"Generally it's been well-maintained."

The council has allocated $157,000 next year for the upkeep of cemeteries it manages across the district.