Auckland Heritage Tours Focus on Purewa’s History

Dec 2, 2019

More than 75 people attended Purewa Cemetery’s first Auckland Heritage Festival tours last month..

The tours were part of the festival which is organised by the Auckland Council annually across the city celebrating various aspects of heritage. The theme for this year’s event was Journeys – the stories of how our people travelled to Tamaki Makaurau by sea, air or land, to create a shared future together.

The mostly local visitors had four historic tours to choose from – Business/Entrepreneurs, Education/Arts, Church/Medical/Military and politics/Sport – each led by an historian.

Some well-known names buried or interred in the historic part of the cemetery include Sir Robert Kerridge (Kerridge Odeon theatres), Maurice Paykel (Fisher and Paykel), Sir Henry Horton (NZ Herald), Marianne Caughey (Smith and Caughey), Sir Denis Blundell (Governor General), Sir William Fox (early Premier of New Zealand) and Charles Goldie (artist).

Historians leading the tours included John Priestley, the Chairman of the Purewa Cemetery Trust Board, Janet Crawford a former lecturer at the St John’s Theological College, and Alister Watts who has been involved in identifying and researching some of the early Auckland identities at Purewa.

Research undertaken by Massey University senior history students has revealed about 260 ‘notable’ names and the Friends of Purewa volunteers are continuing to research and compile additional names.

In addition to the tours, Purewa produced a 13-minute video about its history and some of the well-known people buried there. This was played during the afternoon which included afternoon tea in the St John’s Lounge.

A small booklet containing short biographies of the 40 ‘notables’ included in the tours was printed and complimentary copies were given to visitors. Interest was also strong in some of the early register books dating back to 1894, which contain details of burials and which were on public display.

Purewa General Manager, Alastair Crombie, says the event was well received by locals some of whom are regular visitors to Purewa.

“This year Purewa celebrates 130 years since it was established in 1889 and the Council’s Auckland Heritage Festival was an appropriate way to mark this piece of Auckland heritage. We were very pleased with the whole afternoon and the interest shown by those who attended. At this stage, we will most likely take part in the festival again next year but probably with an expanded range of tours,” he said.

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