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Lost children’s graves to receive welcome makeover

The unfinished memorial gazebo honouring Featherston’s lost children. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

GIANINA SCHWANECKE
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Some lie under unmarked graves, some under faded wooden crosses but they will be forgotten no more.

This Saturday volunteers plan to tidy up the area around the Lost Children’s graves at the Featherston Cemetery in preparation for the opening of a memorial gazebo.

Featherston Community Board member Mark Shepherd said it was the “respectful” thing to do.

For him it was a way of honouring the 420 or so children who were buried there between the 1800s and early 1900s – with one grave recording 1840 as the year of death.

“There are a lot of graves underneath the trees, some of them unmarked and some just crosses. For some the families are no longer here in Wairarapa.”

He said volunteers would help clear cut tree branches, do some general weeding and clear the scraggly bits up.

“We don’t want to go in and upset any families,” he said.

Though the children’s names were recorded many were without headstones and nearby trees had uprooted many graves as they grew.

The construction of the gazebo is being overseen and organised by the Featherston Lionesses.

Featherston Lionesses member Barbara Priest said the gazebo project was started two years ago after the club archived those buried at the cemetery.

She said the response from the community had been “absolutely incredible”.

The memorial gazebo is expected to be opened some time on February 22 to honour the lost children.

The working bee is expected to start at 9.30am with volunteers asked to bring their own gloves, rakes and wheelbarrows if possible.

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