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:https://teara.govt.nz/…/3a8/aitken-john-guthrie-

John Guthrie Wood
John Guthrie Wood

November Working Bee

We had a crack team of twenty volunteers join the Committee on 15 November 2020 for a working been in Gum Gully. We cleared three long paths of debris in advance of the Influenza Memorial tours we have scheduled for next Sunday. A big thanks to all those who helped and to David and cake bakers for the tea.


FROM DISTANT SHORES – Some of those who died of influenza in 1918 and were buried in Karori Cemetery came from far away – Arthur Howell, Captain, SS Alma, from Pembroke, Wales; Malo Gaurio, Capitaine of Colonel de Villebois-Mareuil, from Binic in Brittany, and four men from the Indian sub-continent are amongst them.

Arthur Howell
Malo Gaurio


In 1918 influenza killed men and women in their productive years, aged 20-50. In many cases their deaths left orphans to be cared for by wider family, or the state. William Weaver and his second wife Mabel, both aged 31, died 4 days apart in November 1918, leaving William’s son Victor an orphan. Victor’s mother, also called Mabel, had died when he was only three weeks old in 1914.

William Weaver


Mary KEEGAN lived with her husband and children (she had 12) on a coal hulk in Wellington Harbour. During the 1918 influenza epidemic several of the children became sick as did Mary – she died, they survived. Cecilia MCPARTLAND worked as a charwoman at the Public Trust to help provide for her large family – she died at work from flu. Dan HASSELBERG was a police constable. He too died of flu. They are amongst the many who were buried in Karori Cemetery in Nov/Dec 1918. Read more at www.1918influenzakarori.weebly.com

Coal Hulk

World Television Day

Originally published 21 November 2020

Who better to highlight on this day than one of NZ’s biggest – in every sense of the word – media stars for 30 years – from the 1960’s onwards. Selwyn Featherston TOOGOOD became a household name via radio in the quiz show It’s In The Bag, and was able to successfully transfer the format to TV, and then went on to host other shows, including for many years an afternoon show Beauty and the Beast. His booming voice filled the airwaves, and the genial giant then filled out TV screens. When he died in February 2001 he was cremated at Karori and shortly after his ashes were interred in an ashes plot, where his wife joined him 8 years later. They lie under a brass plaque, not far from the crematorium, small and discreet in the afterlife.