Then & Now

Third in our “then and now” series and I’ll stop for a bit! Although with this one, I’m not sure I have the correct tree. It’s main trunk looks taller in 1983! But close enough?

Original photo:

Photo courtesy of WCC Archives
Copyright Attribution
Wellington City Council
Copyright License
Wellington City Council Archives, 00557-39-12

Sexton’s House

The previous Sexton’s house was such a charming building. And check out the dandies in the road!

Photo courtesy of Wellington City Recollect:

“The entrance to Karori Cemetery with the Sexton’s Cottage on the right. Date c. 1900 Reference 50010-90”

This image has been downloaded from and may be subject to copyright restrictions. Please verify the copyright status before any reuse of this image.

1895 Watercolour

Now isn’t this something special. An 1895 watercolour of our wee Shelter at the Cemetery. Painted by Mary Catherine (Taylor) Medley, from the Alexander Turnbull Library.

Biography from The National Library website:

Taylor, Mary Catherine, 1835-1922. Daughter of Rev Richard Taylor and Mary Caroline Taylor. Born at Coveney Rectory, Ely, Cambridgeshire, England and came with her parents to New Zealand in 1839. An amateur artist. In 1863 she married Lieutenant Spencer Mansel Medley, RN, who served as an aide-de-camp to Governor Grey. In 1865, the couple returned to England, but came back to New Zealand later. They had one daughter, Adela. Around 1870 the couple was stationed at Porchester, near Portsmouth. See The Missionary’s Daughter (1993), the edited journals of her sister Laura Harper for further information. In her later years, Mary Medley was involved in the suffragette and temperance movements, as well as in the interests of Maori women. Mary Medley is buried with her husband and daughter in Karori Cemetery, Wellington.

Reference: Medley, Mary Catherine (Taylor), b. 1835 :Karori Cemetery. Jany 21st [18]95.. Medley, Mary Catherine, 1835-1922 :Sketchbook of Mary C. Medley nee Taylor…1895. No. 14.. Ref: E-379-010. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/23147192

Karori Cemetery, 1895 by Mary Catherine Medley

SS Penguin

Another interesting image related to the S.S. Penguin tragedy. Elegant funeral transport of the day.


Taken from the supplement to the Auckland Weekly News 25 FEBRUARY 1909 p016

Read more about the SS Penguin here

SS Penguin Funeral of Mrs Brittain and G. Troadec

James Doxy Burtinshaw

Accidentally killed February 1904.

Erected by his shipmates.

This charming headstone caught our eye. Who can walk past “accidentally killed” and not wonder?

According to newspaper reports, James (aged 19) was an assistant pantryman on the SS Rotoiti. While crossing the Corinthic with a bag of linen to return to his own ship, he fell down one of the holds – a distance of about 40ft. He died in hospital a few hours later.

A native of Cheshire, James Burtinshaw was the son of Henry & Emily. His father had various occupations as a gas fitter, commercial traveller and property agent over the years. The family moved between the Isle of Wight, London and Stockport during James’ childhood.

NZ Times 6 February 1904
Steamship Corinthic in Wellington Harbour. Dickie, John, 1869-1942 :Collection of postcards, prints and negatives. Ref: 1/1-002010-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/23176430
From Auckland Museum:
Image of a large dark coloured steam ship on calm waters with a number of people aboard. Stencilled ROTOITI | DUNEDIN on the prow. Smoke rises from a large chimney in the centre of the image. To the left is a wooden wharf, with a crowd gathered to watch the ship in the distance.
Place Dunedin Other Number PH-1995-15-13

Sir Francis Dillon Bell

It’s Movember and we’re celebrating with some of the famous mustaches resident at Karori Cemetery. Sir Francis Dillon Bell (1822-1898) not only sports some fine facial accoutrements but was also the father of our first New Zealand-born Prime Minister: Francis Henry Dillon Bell (1851-1936). Both are buried at Karori. The Bell family plot has recently had some upgrades and planting undertaken by the family.

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

Sir Francis Dillon Bell
Bell Plot

Louis Wager

Our next biography in celebration of Movember is about Louis Wager 1888-1965. Biography from Te Papa’s website:

“Private Louis Wager, service number 77744Louis Wager was born in Heybridge, Essex in 1888, to Martha and Frederick Wager. The Wagers emigrated to New Zealand shortly before the First World War.Louis was 28 years old when he attested for service in March 1917. He had attested at an earlier date and been rejected due to chest trouble and flat feet. At the time of enlistment Louis was working as a ‘Grocer’s Traveller’ for Sibun Ltd in Petone. He listed his mother, Martha Elizabeth Wager, as his next of kin, living at 278 Cuba Street.It appears that his prior medical state coupled with contracting influenza and pneumonia in 1918 further hindered Louis’ ability to serve and he was discharged in 1919 following proceedings with the Medical Board.In 1949, Lois married Jane Elizabeth Wickenden. For most of his life, he worked as a travelling salesman for Silbun Limited, a grocery supplies firm, situated in Petone. Louis died in 1965 in Wellington at the age of 76. He is buried in Karori Cemetery.”

Photo credit: Portrait of Louis Wager, circa 1918, Wellington, by Berry & Co. Purchased 1998 with New Zealand Lottery Grants Board funds. Te Papa (B.046271)

Louis Wager

John Guthrie Wood

Running with our Movember theme, next up is John Guthrie Wood Aitken. He contributed so much to Wellington, it’s hard to summarise all he did in a few lines here. The Encyclopedia of New Zealand probably says it best:

“Over six feet tall and heavily built, Aitken had such large feet that his shoes were made specially for him. Every Sunday he attended St John’s Church, where he was an elder, attired in his frock coat and striped trousers. John Aitken never married. He died in Wellington on 17 August 1921, having rendered many years of service in commerce, politics, education, welfare and the church.”

Read his full biography:…/3a8/aitken-john-guthrie-

John Guthrie Wood
John Guthrie Wood