Working Bee Treasures

Two of the treasures revealed in the 14th February working bee – the plot with the checkerboard ledger has two other Masonic symbols, one being the compass and set square. It was completely obscured by long grass and other greenery which had formed a thick mat. The Blaxall family plot commemorates a 20-year old son killed on 12 October 1917 in the Battle of Passchendaele – unseen under many layers of dirt and grime for many years.


This month is the 119th birthday of our Cable Car. The Cable Car’s engineer, James Fulton, is buried at Karori Cemetery. He was born in Outram, Otago in 1854 and received his training as a cadet in the Public Works Department. After working on several sections of railway line, in 1897 he entered private practice and undertook the Cable Car, the first Kelburn viaduct and Balance Bridge in the Manawatu Gorge amongst other bridges. He died in 1928 and was survived by a wife and daughter. Happy Birthday Cable Car.

Cemetery Management Plan

Here’s an action shot of our Friends’ Chairperson, Richard Bentley, making a presentation on our behalf today to the Wellington City Council Strategy and Policy Committee on the draft Cemeteries’ Management Plan (that was a mouthful). We’ve attached a copy of his presentation. Let us know your thoughts below, we’d love to hear them.

You can watch the full meeting on Youtube here:

Remembering the Buckley siblings

Lena Marion Buckley (known as Marion) and her brother Stanley were born in Greenwich, Kent, England. They left London on the Athenic on 4 March 1910 along with their mother Mary and sisters Nelly and Florence. Their father Harry, a stonemason, travelled to New Zealand separately.

On 21 February 1914 (107 years ago) Marion Buckley had travelled from her home in Ngaio to Tawa Flat for a Sunday School picnic. The boys in their party had been swimming, so Marion and her three friends borrowed swimming costumes from the boys and went for a swim. All the other girls except for Marion could swim. It appears that the girls all entered the water together and when they got to deeper water Marion’s friends warned her about trying to cross the stream but the current grabbed Marion and washed her into a deep hole. Her friends tried in vain to rescue her but sadly they were unsuccessful. Marion was 14 years old.

Following Marion’s death Harry and Mary continued to live in Ngaio but in 1922 their lives were struck by tragedy again.

On 16 August 1922, 18 year old Stanley Buckley left his home in Ngaio on his way to work at James Smith Department Store. In Lambton Quay he jumped onto the wrong side of the running board of the Lyall Bay tram. He stepped off the tram again and was hit by the tram. He initially survived his injuries but passed away on 24th August 1922.In their later years Harry and Mary lived in Ponsonby Road, Karori. Harry died in 1953 aged 83 and Mary died in 1956 aged 85.


“Graven with an iron pen and lead in the rock for ever” (Job 19:24)

Our third photo from the Berry & Co collection features the grave of John David McLean (1850-1904). John David McLean was born in Pictou, Nova Scotia and arrived in New Zealand sometime before 1882. He married in Hawera in 1882 but his marriage ended in 1887 after his wife confessed to being involved with another man. Following this confession John was arrested after he threatened to kill the other man. A dramatic court case followed resulting in the charges against John being dropped.

After his divorce John lived in Napier, Whanganui and Wellington. John worked as a builder/carpenter and at the time of his death he was working as a builder at the Meat Export Company in Ngauranga Gorge. Sadly an accident at the Meat Export Company led to his sudden death in 1904. John was buried in Public 2 (Gum Gully).

In his will John left all his possessions to his brothers and sisters but frustratingly none of them are identified by name. His headstone states that his family were in Canada and the United States. Was the photo taken by Berry and Co sent to his family in Canada and United States?


Died 1901 aged 66 years and buried in Public Section. He has a very handsome gothic style headstone. His brother, Rober McGiffert Cleland is buried at Bolton Street.

From NZETC: Mr. Joseph McGiffert Cleland, who represented Thorndon Ward on the City Council from February. 1875, to September, 1877, was born near Belfast, County Down, Ireland, in 1835. His father, a North of Ireland farmer, sent him to the National Schools near Belfast, where he was educated. The subject of this notice was then apprenticed for four years to the grocery and provision trade in Birmingham, England, and was employed in general business till 1858, when he embarked for Wellington per ship “Robert Small.” Among his fellow passengers were Mr. (afterwards Mr. Justice) Johnston and other notable colonists. On arrival on the 13th of October of the same year, Mr. Cleland joined his brother at the Hutt, whom he assisted for some time in his business. For about a year subsequently he acted as manager of the late Mr. David Anderson’s store in Wellington, and for a like period he was employed as chief clerk to the late Hon. J. Martin. Mr. Cleland entered into business in Wellington as a storekeeper in 1862, which he conducted successfully till 1874, when he retired. In 1871 he was married to Miss Annie, daughter of the late Mr. George Dixon. His family numbers four, one daughter and three sons, of whom two are farming at the Hutt.

Headstone of James McGiffert Cleland


This is the information we can piece together on Rose: she was born Rosina Hazelwood in 1868 in Islington, London. She came to New Zealand with her family on the ship “Otago” in 1874.

Rose was aged 16 when she was married to Uriah James Williams, aged 42 in 1884. Uriah and Rosina’s daughter, Mabel Hannah, was born on 20th July 1884 at Lyttelton. It can’t have been an easy life for Rose, she was only 20 when her husband was sentenced to two years’ hard labor for indecent assault. It wasn’t the first time he’d been in trouble with the law.

Rose died aged 24 in 1892 and as the Cemetery opened in 1891, she is one of the early burials at Karori.

On the 1896 Electoral Roll, Uriah is recorded as living in the Benevolent Home, a laborer. He died aged 59 in 1901 and is buried in a separate plot.

Mabel married Hart Samuel Bennett in 1909 and died in 1910.Some of this information has been taken from the following website:

Headstone of Rose J Williams