Around 80 people gathered at the old cemetery on the corner of Guyton St and Heads Rd yesterday to remember one of Whanganui's most significant citizens.

November 20 was the birth date of Henry Sarjeant and his recently restored grave was re-dedicated with a karakia delivered by kaumatua John Maihi, followed by a blessing from Archdeacon Stuart Goodin.

Henry Sarjeant, who was a patron of the arts in Whanganui, died in 1912, leaving a bequest of £30,000 for the establishment of an art gallery.

The gallery was named after him, and was opened in September 1919.


Mayor Hamish McDouall, Councillor Josh Chandulal-Mackay and Whanganui MP Chester Borrows attended the ceremony and placed flowers at the graveside.

Twins Sienna and Danielle Taylor-Moore 9, said they knew a bit about Mr Sarjeant and the work he did for the arts in Whanganui.

"Today was his birthday," said Sienna.

"He looks like a movie star in his photo," said Danielle.

Restoration work on Mr Sarjeant's grave was recently undertaken by Marco Buerger of Heritage Conservation Ltd.

The ceremony was followed by morning tea at Sarjeant on the Quay and there was an afternoon lecture at the Whanganui War Memorial Centre.

The inaugural Henry Sarjeant Memorial Lecture was given by historian Jock Phillips.
The lecture focused on Mr Sarjeant's gift to the city, and the place of benefactors, philanthropy and gifting in New Zealand cultural life.