Mathew & Elsie Holmes

By Julia Kennedy

A sundial is placed on the upper slope of the right-hand side of the original Soldiers’ section. It was a gift of Mrs Holmes (Elsie), in memory of her husband Lieutenant-Colonel Holmes N.Z.M.C (Mathew).

Holmes was invalided back to New Zealand but succumbed to influenza in the 1918 pandemic.

Underground History have a wonderful post that covers his biography in detail:…/dr-mathew…

Mathew married Elsie Rawson in 1909 and they had two daughters. Elsie was an active member of the Women’s National Reserve and was president of their Soldiers’ Graves Committee, who made deputations to parliament pressing for the Soliders’ section at Karori to be realised. In 1919 she was elected president of the Soldiers Wives’ Club.

Elsie took her children to spend time in Scotland and England for the early part of the 1920s before returning to Wellington in 1924 where her “fresh ideas” were used to renew efforts to plant out the Soldiers’ section. In 1926 she was voted president of the Wellington Women’s National Reserve, during the absence of Mrs Tripp to England.

Elsie returned to live in England and in 1940 was credited with instigating the “Pigs For Victory” project from her house in Chelsea. “The idea was first started by Mrs Matthew Holmes, slim, smart, silver-haired New Zealand woman. She told me she put up a notice asking people round her to bring their scraps to her front garden”. Sufficient scraps were collected to feed 20 pigs.

“Having tackled this problem successfully Mrs Holmes turner her attention to another job. She heard that scrap metal was needed, so asked people to drop old razor blades, keys, locks, badges and brass buttons through her letterbox. Neighbours in their enthusiasm began bringing iron bedsteads. When the letterbox proved inadequate Mrs Holmes borrowed an empty house. She acquired her efficiency in the last war when she was president of the Women’s National Reserve”.

Elsie died in Wellington in 1969 aged 86, and her ashes are interred with her husband Mathew at Karori Cemetery.

Plot Public 2/I/273

Mathew Holmes memorial sundial, Services Section, Karori Cemetery
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Sundial-1024x683.jpgMathew Holmes memorial sundial, Services Section, Karori Cemetery